Rural Diversity and heterogeneity in less-favoured areas: the quest for policy targeting

R. Ruben, J. Pender

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


Wide diversity among farmers and fields is a prime characteristic of livelihoods and production systems in less-favoured areas. One-size-fits-all policies can therefore not provide adequate solutions to poverty and degradation problems. Sustainable rural development strategies in these areas need to focus on the potential for resource use intensification, based on a careful combination of local and regional measures. Various pathways for development can be identified for enabling rural households to exploit available comparative advantages. This article discusses the key components for the design and implementation of appropriate policies for enhancing sustainable development in less-favoured areas. Attention is focussed on the possibilities for simultaneously addressing poverty alleviation and sustainable natural resource management. An important strategy for improving targeting efficiency in situations of strong rural heterogeneity can be found in the promulgation of democratic decentralization and community-driven development programs. We provide a critical summary of the factors that determine the development potential and shape development pathways in less-favoured areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-320
JournalFood Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • developing-countries
  • crop production
  • strategies
  • management
  • degradation
  • growth
  • dynamics
  • property
  • rights
  • africa


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