Transforming rural livelihoods in Zimbabwe: experiences of Fast Track Land Reform, 2000-2012
James, Gareth David
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This thesis examines the livelihood outcomes of Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP). It asks, what has happened to rural livelihoods following land redistribution; how did land occupations and redistribution unfold; who gained land in the A1 resettlement areas; what new patterns of production can be identified and how do these compare between different settlement types and across time; how have smallholders responded to new opportunities and challenges on and off the farm; and what are the experiences of women and former farm workers? The thesis adopts a multi-methods, comparative approach, drawing on survey data from over 500 rural households and in-depth interviews with 132 “new” farmers. The thesis is a comparative assessment of livelihood outcomes in the new resettlement areas vis-à-vis the old resettlement and communal areas. The results of a series of statistical analyses and interviews show that the “new” A1 farmers are mostly poor and landless people from neighbouring communal areas. These resettlement farmers also produce more maize, cotton and tobacco than their counterparts in other rural areas. The main constraint to smallholder development in these areas has been the general lack of inputs (especially fertilisers), credit and markets. Resettlement farmers, old and new, have responded to these challenges by engaging in contract farming and/or a wider range of non-farm income generating activities, earning higher incomes than those in the communal areas. The data also shows that income from farm and non-farm activities is then reinvested in productive assets and agricultural production. The final chapter presents smallholders’ perceptions about their own tenure security. While many feel secure on their new land, land rights for women and former farm workers continue to be mediated through men and settlers, respectively. Their livelihoods thus rest precariously on their abilities to manage these relationships. Thus, in addition to offering a detailed, empirical analysis of the livelihood outcomes of Zimbabwe land reform, the thesis also contributes to wider theoretical debates, challenging narratives of deagrarianisation and emphasising the importance of multi-methods approaches to understanding complex livelihood changes in the context of land reform.