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This paper provides a micro-level foundation for discussions of income and asset allocation within the smallholder sector in Eastern and Southern Africa, and explores the implications of these findings for rural growth and poverty alleviation strategies in the region. Results are drawn from nationally-representative household surveys in five countries between 1990 and 2000: Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Mozambique, and Zambia. The paper shows that farm sizes in most of Africa are declining over time; that farm sizes are declining at a faster rate for households at the low end of the land size distribution; that Gini coefficient measures indicate that farm sizes within the small-farm sectors are generally more inequitably distributed than in Asia and Latin America at the time of their green revolutions, not even considering the serious additional disparities in land allocation that would result if large-scale farming sectors were to be included in the several case countries having bi-modal land distribution patterns; and that the largest part of the variation in per capita farm sizes within the small-farm sectors is, in every country, predominantly within-village rather than between villages. Realistic discussions of poverty alleviation strategies in Africa need to be grounded in the context of these land distribution patterns and trends. The paper concludes by identifying the implications for poverty alleviation strategies.


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