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Research Report 46: Space, Markets and Employment in Agricultural Development: Zimbabwe Country Report

by Chrispen Sukume , Blasio Mavedzenge, Felix Murimbarima , Ian Scoones in 2015
RR46-SMEAD-Zimbabwe

Since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has undergone several phases of land redistribution, generally to communal and working people.However, land reform on its own is not a cure for all rural economic development challenges. Land redistribution addresses the problem of land access – a key resource in generating farm-based employment and income – but, in addition, there is the need to create non-farm employment within the new rural spaces. This is an issue of central importance for agricultural development policy: not only because there are many people in rural areas who are landless or not involved in agricultural production, and who, therefore, do not benefit directly from land reform provisions, but also because large-scale agricultural investment projects, and increases in the productivity and efficiency of agriculture, may lead to people being displaced from land.

Internationally, the existence of a large and growing population of landless and unemployed people, no longer involved in agriculture but unable to find a foothold in the non-farm economy, seriously compromises poverty reduction, food security, well-being and stability. Yet, the impact of agricultural development decisions on non-farm employment is often disregarded by policy-makers, who assume that those not finding employment in agriculture can be absorbed into the economy in other ways.While widely recognised, the linkages between agricultural development and non- farm employment are poorly understood. In particular, not enough is known about the vital role of spatial economic relations, social, institutional and political relationships and linkages that can either support positive integration into markets or lead to the adverse incorporation or exclusion of citizens. An understanding of these factors will help us to answer the following questions: 'How significant have emerging structures of agricultural production been for income and employment in newly resettled areas? How can the economic potential unleashed from small-scale agriculture be amplified through off-farm linkage effects in the local rural economy? Can a territorial approach to local economic development help capture the benefits of land reform?