Most rural development policies in third world countries have been strongly focussed on areas with a high agricultural potential, based on the conventional belief that highest returns to investments could here be reached. This paper argues that a greater impact on poverty alleviation and sustainable natural resource management can be expected through targeting investments in less-favoured areas. Agricultural intensification in less-favoured areas is mainly constrained by insecure property rights, low levels of community organisation and participation, and limited access to markets and appropriate technologies. We provide a systematic overview of the institutional conditions and economic incentives that are required for enhancing a process of sustainable agricultural intensification in the highland and dryland areas of the developing world, where almost 40 percent of the rural poor are living. Our findings indicate that a suitable framework of local incentives enables win-win scenarios for simultaneously improving welfare and sustainable resource management by rural households.
Institutions, technologies and policies for poverty alleviation and sustainable resource use, presented at Staying Poor: Chronic Poverty and Development Policy, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, 7-9 April 2003. Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, 20 pp.