Non-farm rural livelihoods

Non-farm rural livelihoods

Factors which encourage and affect non-farm based employment

Paper suggests that poor rural people seek livelihoods in the non-farm sector: (a) to complement seasonal agricultural incomes; (b) to supplement inadequate (or absent) agricultural incomes; and (c) to take advantage of opportunities arising in the non-farm sector. For the poorest, (a) and (b) are the most important.

Diversification helps reduce vulnerability by smoothing income and spreading income risk. Household-based activities in the non-farm sector are particularly important for the rural poor, including women. Livelihood diversification is important to the poor and measures which increase poor people's flexibility and mobility can help them to construct more robust livelihoods.

Concludes that depth of poverty focus is a critical issue with implications for data collection, and subsequent intervention and partnership. Targeting the 'poorest of the poor' need not preclude interventions with other groups where this can increase employment opportunities for the poor. This issue is particularly important in the rural non-farm sector because it depends on surplus labour.

Strengthening the rural non-farm sector will involve, at least in part, boosting employment opportunities in private enterprise. In addition to an enabling policy environment, new and innovative institutional structures or mechanisms will be important in achieving a sustained impact on poverty. This will require partnerships between donors and governments, and between the public sector and the private sector. These synergies will be critical to sustained growth in rural economies [adapted from author]

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