[If you wish to leave comments on this article please add them to the blog post. This paper is part of the Zimbabwe Land Series]
By Dale Doré
This paper recounts how the blossoming of smallholder agriculture in the mid-1980s began to fade when unsustainable costs began to mount. It tries to show that no amount of donor funds to support state-driven agricultural development will reduce poverty while households are entrapped in the current system of agriculture. At the system’s core lie the limited rights to land. Without the right to buy, sell, rent or otherwise transfer land, and when land and other natural resources are free for all, the system becomes beset by market failure, perverse incentives, waste and environmental degradation. The paper explains how, under the pressure of population growth, people’s livelihoods and the environment have been systematically decimated. A subsequent paper will show how modifications to the system can, over time, commercialise smallholder agriculture and emancipate rural Zimbabweans from a life of grinding poverty.