This paper briefly identifies some underlying premises of the 'small farmer' model that inform much rural development policy designed to address poverty. The paper then reviews recent work on processes governing the use of, and access to, natural resources. It argues that the small farmer model does not correspond to many of the processes of change that are observed in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Differentiating between two scenarios, those of 'boom' and 'stagnant' rural economies, the paper explores the relationship these may have with concepts of 'remoteness' in rural areas and traces the different dynamics of agricultural production strategies and of evolving access to land in the two scenarios. It emphasises the operation of markets in influencing competition for land, and the importance of farmers' investment in productivity-enhancing technology in building their claims to land. The paper then considers the implications of these patterns of land use and access for policy seeking to improve conditions for the chronic poor.
Woodhouse, P. Natural Resource Managementand Chronic Poverty in Sub-Saharan, CPRC Working Paper No. 14Africa: an overview paper. (2002) 24 pp. ISBN 1-904049-13-3