Large-scale agricultural investments and smallholder welfare: A comparison of wage labor and outgrower channels in Tanzania
This article in the World Development Journal evaluates household welfare effects of large-scale agricultural investments in Tanzania, one of the main recipients of such investments in Africa. Specifically, the article compares households participating in sugar and rice investments through outgrower schemes or as agro-industry workers with non-participants in terms of household income and income poverty. Building on primary household data, it is one of the first studies to empirically analyze ex-post impacts of large-scale agricultural investments in Africa. The analysis draws on cross-section survey data of 516 households collected in Kilombero District, a priority cluster for the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). The results show overall positive household welfare differences between participants of the investments and the respective counterfactual. However, there are large differences between arrangements and subsectors. Estimated effects for outgrowers are largest, yet for land-rich outgrowers more so than for land-poor. Effects for agro-industry workers in the sugar investment are significantly larger than for those in the rice investment, though in both investments land-poor workers seem to benefit. Hence, the study results suggest potential benefits of outgrower schemes and potentials of agro-industry wage employment for the land-poor to escape extreme poverty. Yet, it also stresses particularly the need to address the constraints of land-poor outgrowers. Qualitative interviews, for example, pointed to growing risks for land-poor outgrowers in the context of rising elite capture by larger outgrowers.