Space, markets and employment in agricultural development: Malawi country report
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There is a growing literature on the links between farm and non-farm employment activities in rural societies and the important roles played by rural non-farm employment in poverty reduction (Lanjouw, 2001; Davis et al., 2002; Deichmann et al., 2009; Haggblade et al., 2010). The links between agricultural growth and non-farm employment are not clearly understood. It has long been assumed that agricultural growth benefits non-farm employment by increasing local demand from farmers and farm workers for goods and services, but history shows that this is not always the case. The employment benefits of agricultural growth depend on many factors – including, crucially, the spatial organisation of production, processing and marketing, and the nature of the value chains that link farmers to local and distant markets, as consumers and as producers. If these forms of organisation bypass local markets, agricultural development can lead to links with distant markets being strengthened, while not contributing to the local economy. In the context of growing pressure on agricultural land, these questions are becoming increasingly important in many parts of the world. This is particularly so in Southern Africa where rural development is affected by a host of pressures, including competition for agricultural land, the political saliency of land reform and small farmer development, and the increasing power of supermarkets. A better understanding is needed of the spatial and institutional factors that support employment-intensive rural development.