The efficacy of small holder tobacco farmers on rural development in Zimbabwe
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The aim of this thesis is to assess the efficacy of smallholder tobacco farming as a tool for socio-economic transformation in rural Zimbabwe. The study was carried out in the Marondera District of Mashonaland East Province. This thesis was prompted by the need to establish the extent to which smallholder tobacco farming contributes to poverty reduction. The research was based on a comparative analysis of earlier resettlement areas that were set up between the 1980s and early 1990s, the recently established fast track resettlement areas that were established after 2000, and the communal areas. The novelty of this study partly lies in the analysis of the socio-economic contribution of tobacco farming using a dual theoretical framework combining the Sustainable Livelihood Framework and Entitlement Approach in a dynamic macroeconomic environment. The thesis assesses how the macroeconomic environment that has prevailed in Zimbabwe since 2000 has influenced production of tobacco as a livelihood option. Based on a mixed method research design encompassing observations, key informant interviews and focus group discussions, as well as a questionnaire survey, and qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analysed thematically in a manner that provides basis for co-validation. The quantitative data were analysed in SPSS V16.0 and MS Excel 2013 environments, where correlation and regression analyses were undertaken. Correlation analysis was used to determine the variables which were related to tobacco output in the three farming areas. The results from the study showed the different sources of tobacco funding and how the prevailing economic conditions affected investment into tobacco farming. Furthermore deforestation, erosion and pollution were identified as the major problems resulting from tobacco farming. The study concludes that tobacco farming has an enormous potential to reduce rural poverty. This is reflected in the increase of asset ownership and income among tobacco growing households in all farming areas. However, these improvements have taken place at the expense of the natural environment, whose capacity to provide key natural resources has been degraded. The study recommends an increase in provision of government funded extension services, capitalization, as well as energy supply and infrastructural development programmes in order to enhance sustainability.
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