The Impact of Contract Farming on Smallholder Tobacco Farmers’ Household Incomes: A Case Study of Makoni District, Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe

Lighton Dube, Kudakwashe Emmanuel Mugwagwa

Abstract: This purpose of this paper was to assess the impact of contract farming on household income. The study used primary data collected using a structured questionnaire from a random sample of 98 smallholder tobacco farmers in Makoni district of Zimbabwe. The study found that despite contract farmers selling on average 1.6 times the number of bales sold by non-contract farmers, they only realised an average income that was 1.4 times higher than that realised by non-contract farmers. The study also found that tobacco farming is the major source of livelihood for farmers in Makoni district contributing on average 73% of the households’ annual income. Using a Tobit regression model, the study found that being a contract farmer does not have a significant effect on the share of tobacco income to total household income. The factors that significantly and positively influence the share of tobacco income to total household income are gender of the farmer, access to extension on tobacco production and marketing, being a full-time farmer, total cropping area, farmer having attained at least secondary education and individual land tenure. The study recommends that government and tobacco contracting merchants must further strengthen extension support to tobacco growing farmers especially women farmers to increase household incomes and sustain rural livelihoods. Further, there is need to review and upgrade the current master farmer training programme curriculum to include specialised tobacco good farming practices for farmers located in tobacco producing regions.

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