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BREAKOUT SESSION 9: FARM SIZE, URBANIZATION AND THE LINKS FROM AGRICULTURE TO NUTRITION AND HEALTH

BREAKOUT SESSION 9: FARM SIZE, URBANIZATION AND THE LINKS FROM AGRICULTURE TO NUTRITION AND HEALTH

BACKGROUND AND SCOPE

This breakout session addresses findings of the CGIAR ISPC Foresight Study on Farm Size and Urbanization in Asia and Africa, based on five background papers and a workshop at Tufts University in January 2013. That report addresses how pathways from agricultural research to nutrition and health are mediated by demographic and geographic factors including gender roles, production systems, climate change and other sources of diversity as well as common trends across Africa and Asia.

Our main finding is that urbanization and economic development have made global agriculture increasingly differentiated. In more dynamic, commercialized zones with low transport costs to cities, links from agriculture to nutrition are mediated by specialized agribusinesses and food companies that have scale economies for farm inputs and outputs. In contrast, relatively isolated "hinterland" zones with less market access have closer links from farm production to household consumption.

Within these zones farm sizes vary widely, reflecting differences in demographic conditions, land quality, production systems and household wealth, but agriculture remains dominated by family farms. For exceptions such as specialized livestock, sugar, tea, oil palm, fruits or vegetables, scale economies can outweigh the cost of labor supervision, leading to investor-owned farms that use hired managers. But for most crops, farm sizes are constrained by family members' resources, and overall average farm size is dictated by the available farm land divided by the number of farm households.