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Typological characterisation of farms in a smallholder food-cash crop production system in Zimbabwe – opportunities for livelihood sustainability
The diversity of smallholder farms in space, resource endowment, production and consumption decisions are often a hindrance to the design, targeting, implementation and scaling out of agricultural development projects. Understanding farm heterogeneity is crucial in targeting interventions that can potentially contribute to improved crop productivity, food security and livelihood sustainability. The study sought to define and understand farm typology in a resettlement smallholder food-cash crop production area in Zimbabwe. Data was collected from five focus group discussions (FGDs), and 102 household interviews. Principal component analysis (PCA), multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) and cluster analysis were used to analyse quantitative and qualitative data variables and aggregate farms into clusters according to production means, socio-economics and demographics. The three identified farm types were (i) resource-endowed, commercial oriented farms, (ii) medium resourced and (iii) resource constrained farms practising subsistence and income oriented production. Labour was cited as a major challenge, with high labour cost relevant for type I farms, while household size has more bearing for type II and III farms. Ownership of tillage implements and operations varied from mechanised on resource endowed farms, to animal drawn on some medium and resource constrained farms. The farms exhibited variable livelihood strategies and all clusters exhibited market participation, albeit to varying extents. Thus strengthening of market links is imperative. Use of multivariate methods allowed for identification of the most discriminating variables for farm delineation and subsequent clustering of farms forms the basis for further exploring variability across farm types for the targeting of management interventions for livelihood sustainability.