Can smallholder avocado production reduce poverty and improve food security through internal markets? The case of Giheta, Burundi
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The role of agriculture in rural development is widely documented in literature. Many analysts regard agriculture, specifically smallscale agriculture, as an effective instrument for poverty reduction and food security, particularly in rural communities of developing countries where large numbers of poor people are concentrated. However whether the focus of such production should be on export crops or for domestic food security remains an issue for debate. Using the avocado industry in Giheta-Burundi, this paper argues that some emerging tree crops such as avocados present enormous opportunities to income generation and food security for small-scale farmers. This paper suggests that small-scale avocado farming presents the economic, market and health potentiality to contribute to a viable and sustainable rural economy through internal markets thereby reducing levels of poverty and malnutrition in this area. From a policy perspective, the paper suggests that the avocado sector needs to be supported by both the private and public sectors, irrespective of whether the crop is consumed, traded domestically or exported. Increasing the capacity of avocado production and trade will then enable small-scale farmers and vendors to gain greater income from this sector.