There is an increasing awareness that diversification plays a strategic role in rural livelihood systems. The principal question to be addressed in this paper pertains to the conditions and the ways in which rural households diversify their livelihood activities and strategies. To answer this question empirical evidence will be reviewed. Specific attention will be paid to perspectives that may shed new light on the issue of rural livelihood diversification: a gender perspective, a temporal perspective, and the ‘HIV/AIDS lens’. In the paper, the livelihood system is seen as an open system, interfacing with other systems and using various resources and assets to produce livelihood, with the household as the locus of livelihood generation. Diversification is defined as the process by which households construct increasingly diverse livelihood portfolios, making use of increasingly diverse combinations of resources and assets.
Growing global attention has been directed toward labeling the ingredients, processing methods, and health claims of food. Accompanying this attention is an interest in how consumers process or understand the information on such labels. This article examines how the length of a front-label claim influences the nutritional beliefs and evaluation of a product when used in combination with complete back-label information. The results indicate that the presence of a shorter health claim on the front of the package (in combination with a more complete claim on the back) leads a person to generate more attribute-specific thoughts about the product and fewer general evaluative thoughts compared to longer health claims. These shorter health claims also led to more favorable beliefs about the product and to a more positive image of the product. This article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings for policy makers, consumers and researchers.
A bio-economic model has been calibrated to the socio-economic and biophysical characteristics of a less-favoured area in the Ethiopian highlands. Land degradation, population growth, stagnant technology, and drought necessitates development of non-farm employment opportunities in the area. The model has been used to assess the impact of improved access to non-farm income on household welfare, agricultural production, conservation investments and land degradation in form of soil erosion. The model simulations indicate that access to low-wage off-farm income is restricted by lack of employment opportunities since households otherwise would have engaged in more off-farm wage employment than observed. The simulations show that better (unconstrained) access to low-wage non-farm income has a substantial positive effect on household income. Total agricultural production (crop and livestock production) and farm inputs used are reduced when access to non-farm employment is improved and thus increases the need to import food to the area. Access to non-farm income reduces farm households’ incentives to invest in conservation and this leads to more overall soil erosion and more rapid land degradation even though intensity of production is reduced. Special policies are therefore needed to ensure land conservation and to sustain local food production.
This paper estimates technical efficiency among small holder farmers in the slash and burn agriculture zone of Cameroon and identifies sources of inefficiency using detailed survey data obtained from 450 farmers over 15 villages throughout 2001/2002 growing season. We find that the mean levels of technical efficiency are 77%, 73% and 75%, respectively, for groundnut monocrop, maize monocrop and maize–groundnut farming systems suggesting existence of substantial gains in output and/or decreases in cost with available technology and resources. The efficiency differences are explained significantly by credit, soil fertility, social capital, distance of the plot from the access road and extension services. Policy recommendations are drawn from these findings.
Wide diversity among farmers and fields is a prime characteristic of livelihoods and production systems in less-favoured areas. One-size-fits-all policies can therefore not provide adequate solutions to poverty and degradation problems. Sustainable rural development strategies in these areas need to focus on the potential for resource use intensification, based on a careful combination of local and regional measures. Various pathways for development can be identified for enabling rural households to exploit available comparative advantages. This article discusses the key components for the design and implementation of appropriate policies for enhancing sustainable development in less-favoured areas. Attention is focussed on the possibilities for simultaneously addressing poverty alleviation and sustainable natural resource management. An important strategy for improving targeting efficiency in situations of strong rural heterogeneity can be found in the promulgation of democratic decentralization and community-driven development programs. We provide a critical summary of the factors that determine the development potential and shape development pathways in less-favoured areas.
The inclusion of genetically modified maize in food aid shipments to Southern Africa during the 2002 food crisis rekindled debates over agricultural biotechnology. As the region edged ever closer to famine – putting the lives to some 14 million Africans at risk – corporate pundits, government officials and biotech’s critics debated the health and environmental dangers posed by the new technology. By situating the decision to send genetically modified maize to Southern Africa in the context of US–European debates over agricultural biotechnology, it becomes clear that the promotion of biotechnology has nothing to do with ending hunger in the region. Indeed, American food aid shipments to Southern Africa have little to do with the famine at all. Instead, I argue that US food aid policy following the 2002 crisis was intended to promote the adoption of biotech crops in Southern Africa, expanding the market access and control of transnational corporations and undermining local smallholder production thereby fostering greater food insecurity on the Continent.
The use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture is currently the focus of intense public and political debate. Press articles provide evidence that US consumer concerns toward biotechnology are increasing. In this paper, we analyze whether consumers prefer mandatory or voluntary labeling schemes through contingent valuation. Additionally, we calculate the premium that consumers are willing to pay in order to subsidize their favorite labeling alternative. We find that the premium associated with mandatory labeling is lower than expected costs. This indicates that in spite of the concerns surrounding biotechnology, consumers remain fairly confident with the current Food and Drug Administration policy, which does not require mandatory labeling.
This paper reviews hypotheses and evidence about the development pathways (common patterns of change in livelihood strategies) occurring in hillside and highland areas and their implications for sustainable land management and poverty reduction, based upon community level survey results from Honduras, Uganda and Ethiopia. Several common development pathways were found in these three countries, all of which include cereal production as the primary or secondary activity. These include expanding or intensifying cereal crop production, mixed cereals/livestock, cereals/perennials, cereals/perishable annuals, cereals/non-farm employment, and in Honduras, cereals/forestry activities. These pathways were largely determined by four types of factors affecting local comparative advantages: agricultural potential, access to markets and roads, population density, and presence of programs and organizations. Adoption of improved land management was higher and productivity, resource and welfare outcomes were better in the pathways associated with higher value crop production or non-farm employment. In less-favored environments where such pathways have less potential, other development pathways should be facilitated and improved. Opportunities for socially profitable investments have been shown to exist even in less-favored environments, but these need to be tailored to the different comparative advantages of these areas.
The American consumer is obtaining more-and-more of his or her food at a restaurant, and that worries some people concerned with the Nation’s dietary health. To date, much of this concern seems to be directed at the fast food segment of the restaurant industry. This paper asks whether targeting one segment of the industry, such as fast food restaurants, is justified, or whether a more balanced view of eating away from home is required. To answer this question, we look to the future and ask whether Americans can be expected to purchase increasingly more fast food or more-and-more of the foods typically associated with full-service dining. One view is that sales at full-service restaurants will now grow relatively faster than sales of fast food. The argument supporting this position rests on rising incomes, the aging of the population, smaller household sizes, and other changes taking place in the population. Using a new full-information maximum likelihood procedure for estimating a system of censored expenditure equations, we find evidence to support this argument.
The European Union’s (EU’s) ‘quality’ policy for agriculture offers producers a scheme for the certification of regional speciality food. Certification conveys a wide range of signals to both consumers and producers. For producers in particular, certification may be viewed either as a protection or as a promotion mechanism, or both. Evidence shows that, despite the active support offered to the policy, producers have not been convinced that certification is an important quality indicator bearing marketing advantages. Furthermore, producers valuing certification as an important quality indicator form a clear segment in the population of producers. Policy should attempt to raise awareness of the promotion advantages of quality certification among producers, and employ a mechanism that will reduce the free-riders issue by involving the producers in the certification acquisition process.
A large proportion of world’s population lives in marginal (or less-favored) areas. These areas are of home to the poorest segment of the population, particularly in rural areas. In the past, government has targeted their resources mostly to the high-potential or irrigated areas. These investments have generated rapid growth in agricultural production (for example, the so-called green revolution in South and Southeast Asia in the 1970s and 1980s), which in turn has helped to alleviate rural and urban poverty. However, as investments continue to increase in these favored areas, their marginal returns have begun to decline, and environmental problems are emerging. Evidence shows that it is in the marginal areas (or less-favored areas) where many investments may have higher returns today. These investments may have even larger impacts on poverty reduction and environmental protection, as poor people are increasingly concentrated in the marginal areas, where natural resources have already been severely degraded. This study synthesizes some recent studies from India and China on the relative returns to investments in favored and less-favored areas, and presents some preliminary evidence from Uganda, and offers some policy implications for Africa on how governments and international donors can reprioritize their investment portfolio in order to achieve multiple goals of growth, poverty reduction, and environmental protection.