IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The future of small farms for poverty reduction and growth:


  • Hazell, P.B.R.
  • Poulton, Colin
  • Wiggins, Steve
  • Dorward, Andrew


"The people operating small farms in developing countries have to cope with the risks of these small businesses and have long faced heavy challenges. Today, these challenges are particularly severe, and the aspirations of young people on small farms have changed. Globalization and the integration of international markets are stimulating intense competition, offering some opportunities but also new risks. In light of these pressures and others, many of the world's millions of small farmers are simply not making it. Indeed, half of the world's undernourished people, three-quarters of Africa's malnourished children, and the majority of people living in absolute poverty live on small farms. The transformation of the small-farm economy is one of the biggest economic challenges of our time. For some, it entails growth into specialized, market-oriented farms; for others, part-time farming combined with off-farm rural jobs; and for others, a move out of agriculture. The pathways of transformation differ by region and location and will take decades. Policy must take a long-run view to support and guide this process efficiently, effectively, and in social fairness. The role of women farmers and their livelihoods requires particular attention. In this paper, Peter Hazell, Colin Poulton, Steve Wiggins, and Andrew Dorward address several crucial questions. Do small farms in fact have a future? In what situations can small farms succeed? What strategies are most appropriate for helping to raise small-farm productivity? The authors review both sides of the debate over the future of small farms before coming to their conclusions. Coming down firmly on the side of policy support for small farms, they point to small farms' significant potential for reducing poverty and inequity. They also clarify the differing roles of and needs for small farms in different country contexts and spell out a policy agenda for promoting small-farm development. This discussion paper is based on a literature review and the deliberations of an international workshop, “The Future of Small Farms,” organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 2020 Vision Initiative, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and Imperial College London in Wye, England, from June 26 to 29, 2005. (A proceedings volume for this workshop is available from IFPRI, We hope that this discussion paper will help stimulate renewed attention among many stakeholders— including policymakers, researchers, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations—to small-scale agricultural development. Healthy and productive small farms could serve as a crucial mechanism for achieving the poverty and hunger Millennium Development Goals. " From Foreword by Joachim von Braun

Suggested Citation

  • Hazell, P.B.R. & Poulton, Colin & Wiggins, Steve & Dorward, Andrew, 2007. "The future of small farms for poverty reduction and growth:," 2020 vision discussion papers 42, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:2020dp:42

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1996. "How Important to India's Poor Is the Sectoral Composition of Economic Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-25, January.
    2. Raynolds, Laura T., 2004. "The Globalization of Organic Agro-Food Networks," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 725-743, May.
    3. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 2002. "Why has economic growth been more pro-poor in some states of India than others?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 381-400, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Buchenrieder, Gertrud & Hanf, Jon Henrich & Pieniadz, Agata, 2009. "20 years of transition in the agri-food sector," German Journal of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Department for Agricultural Economics, vol. 58(07), pages 1-9, October.
    2. repec:eee:ecolec:v:154:y:2018:i:c:p:31-41 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:ags:gewipr:260143 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jana Brandt & Jonas Possmann, 2017. "Großflächige Agrarinvestitionen in Entwicklungsländern: Ausmaß, Akteure und Land Governance," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201714, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    5. BΘnΘ, C. & Chijere Asafu, D.G. & Allison, E.H. & Snyder, K., 2012. "Design and implementation of fishery modules in integrated household surveys in developing countries," Working Papers, The WorldFish Center, number 39853, June.
    6. Sauer, J. & Davidova, S. & Latruffe, L., 2010. "Leaving Land Fallow – The Case of Subsistence Farming in the Western Balkans," Proceedings “Schriften der Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaues e.V.”, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA), vol. 45, March.
    7. Amrita Chhachhi & Barbara Harriss-White, 2014. "Labour and Petty Production," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 45(5), pages 981-1000, September.
    8. Béné, Christophe & Obirih-Opareh, Nelson, 2009. "Social and economic impacts of agricultural productivity intensification: The case of brush park fisheries in Lake Volta," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 102(1-3), pages 1-10, October.
    9. Suttie, D. & Vargas-Lundius, R., 2016. "IFAD RESEARCH SERIES 2 - Migration and transformative pathways: a rural perspective," IFAD Research Series 280036, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
    10. Zegar, Józef S., 2012. "Gospodarstwa Rodzinne Wobec Wyzwań Wyżywienia I Ochrony Środowiska – Ujęcie Globalne," Village and Agriculture (Wieś i Rolnictwo), Polish Academy of Sciences (IRWiR PAN), Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development, vol. 4(157).
    11. Jabbar, Mohammad A., 2008. "Feed and fodder markets in South Asia and East Africa :A synthesis of four PRA case studies:," Research Reports 181847, International Livestock Research Institute.
    12. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:84:y:2019:i:c:p:153-164 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Jamie Anderson & Wajiha Ahmed, 2015. "Early Insights from Financial Diaries of Smallholder Households," World Bank Other Operational Studies 23498, The World Bank.
    14. Mellor, John W. & Malik, Sohail J., 2017. "The Impact of Growth in Small Commercial Farm Productivity on Rural Poverty Reduction," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 1-10.
    15. Thapa, Ganesh & Gaiha, Raghav Gaiha, 2012. "Food Security in Asia and the Pacific: The Role of Smallholders," Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), vol. 9(1), pages 1-37, June.
    16. Fritzsch, Jana & Wegener, Stefan & Buchenrieder, Gertrud & Curtiss, Jarmila & Gomez y Paloma, Sergio, 2009. "Semi-subsistence Farm Households in Central and South-eastern Europe: Current State and Future Perspectives," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51444, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    17. Sauer, Johannes & Davidova, Sophia & Latruffe, Laure, 2009. "Determinants of the Fallowing Decision in Kosovo," 83rd Annual Conference, March 30 - April 1, 2009, Dublin, Ireland 51072, Agricultural Economics Society.
    18. Elisa Botella-Rodríguez, 2015. "Best practices for small farmers in Cuba and Costa Rica in the Global Era (1990-2008)," Historia Agraria. Revista de Agricultura e Historia Rural, Sociedad Española de Historia Agraria, issue 67, pages 179-215, december.
    19. Soleri, Daniela & Cleveland, David A. & Glasgow, Garrett & Sweeney, Stuart H. & Cuevas, Flavio Aragón & Fuentes, Mario R. & Ríos L., Humberto, 2008. "Testing assumptions underlying economic research on transgenic food crops for Third World farmers: Evidence from Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 667-682, November.
    20. repec:spr:ssefpa:v:10:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s12571-018-0797-0 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fpr:2020dp:42. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.