The Rural Non-Farm Economy and Poverty Alleviation in Armenia, Georgia and Romania: A Synthesis of Findings
59 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2005
Date Written: April 2004
The literature on transition economies devotes relatively little attention to agriculture and the rural non-farm economy, despite the importance of the sector and its relevance to the livelihoods of the majority of the world's poor. This paper is part of a growing volume of empirical work on agriculture in transition countries and especially on the topic of the rural non-farm economy and livelihood diversification among the poor. The empirical work presented in this report is primarily based on large (nation-wide) rural household surveys and other field-related research activities using a broad range of methodologies.
In recent years there has been growing recognition of the role of the non-farm sector for employment, income smoothing and income generation in rural areas in the developing, developed and transition countries. However, there has been limited focus on the factors that determine people's capacity to take advantage of or to generate these opportunities. It is hypothesised that two processes are apparent: demand-pull, where rural people respond to new opportunities; and distress-push, where the poorest are driven to seek non-farm employment as a survival strategy. Sometimes these processes work together. The non-farm sector is thus vital for rural employment and incomes in situations of both stagnant and buoyant agriculture and rural economy as a whole. It is vital for Armenia and Georgia's economic growth, as the development of remunerative and sustainable non-farm employment opportunities will have important effects in terms of poverty reduction. It is also important for Romania's EU accession, currently foreseen in 2007, as the development of remunerative and sustainable non-farm employment opportunities will have important effects in terms of the use of future structural funds, regional assistance and the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy.
This research identifies the key socio-economic factors, resources, activities and constraints to rural households and enterprises in the non-farm rural economy. These data were collected at the micro-level and analysed in the context of the sustainable livelihoods framework, farm systems theory and contemporary econometric methodologies. The aim was to derive policy conclusions conducive to the development of sustainable rural livelihoods.
Keywords: rural non-farm economy, livelihood diversification, rural development, off-farm income, poverty
JEL Classification: C33, O13, O18, O57, P20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation