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In the early 1990s Costa Rica’s production model shifted to export-led growth and non-traditional agrarian exports (NTAEs) promotion. The overall economic strategy was based on trade liberalisation and foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction. In the agriculture sector, policies became subordinated to the overall economic model; productive conversion programmes and rural development strongly supported NTAEs and agroindustrial growth. Costa Rica was particularly successful at diversifying the export structure (reducing the country’s long-standing dependency on traditional export agriculture), attracting FDI in secondary and tertiary activities and creating significant opportunities in RNFA. This paper discusses to what extent new production patterns, land use and ownership created opportunities for small farmers. The paper also presents specific opportunities and problems created for this group of producers.


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