The Experience of Resettled Farmers in Zimbabwe

by Sophia Chiremba and William Masters


This study assesses the relative productivity of smallholder farmers in zimbabwe’s land reform and resettlement programme.  We use a panel of survey data collected in 1992, 1993, 1996, and 1997 from up to 400 resettled households, who in 1981-84 had been moved onto previously large-scale commercial farms in three distinct agro-ecological regions.  A sub-sample of 166 households were surveyed in all four years, and for 1997 we have data from a comparable survey of 147 farmers in communal areas (CAS).  Using these data, we ask whether and how the resettled farmers’ productive efficiency might have converged to their area’s efficiency frontier over time, and whether particular farmer characteristics or institutional interventions might have helped them to improve faster.  Applying Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) methods to measure productive efficiency, we find that although individual farmers often moved towards higher efficiency levels, there was no trend towards the frontier, and farmers’ improvements were not consistently correlated with receiving formal credit or extension services, having more experience or education, or using more farm equipment.  In sum, despite the relatively large and uniform land area available to each farmer, they had widely varying productivity levels, not overcome by conventional farm services.

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Sophia Chiremba is a doctoral student at Purdue University, and a graduate of Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

William Masters is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, who worked at the University of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement during 1988-90.