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Musoma, Richwell Tryson, 2016. Understanding poverty-environment interactions : the political ecology of smallholder tobacco production in Marondera District, Eastern Zimbabwe. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Poverty and environmental degradation are among the severest challenges faced in the developing countries. Since the rise of the sustainable development paradigm, poverty came to be identified as one of the major causes of environmental degradation. However, there are many kinds of processes that can interact in varied ways between humans and the environment, making the poverty-environment interaction complex. In this context, the present study sought to examine if there was empirical evidence to support the poverty-environment hypothesis in smallholder tobacco production in Marondera district, Eastern Zimbabwe. The hypothesis premises that poverty encourages over-exploitation of the physical environment and this further impoverishes the environment (Scherr, 2000). The study was a qualitative case study which used household interviews, key informants and focus group discussions and secondary data. Using a sustainable livelihoods framework and drawing on political ecology, the study found that there was no significant connection between poverty and environmental degradation. Although tobacco is associated with environmentally damaging practices especially pollution through extensive agrochemicals use and land degradation through deforestation (cutting wood to cure tobacco leaves), these practices were found to be a function of household decisions and how the farmer perceives the tobacco management benefits (short-term benefits than long-term outcomes) rather than wealth. Although smallholder farmers were found to be the proximate agents/causes of the environmental degradation linked to tobacco, a chain of link analysis has shown a number of local and extra-local factors influencing this. The political ecology lens established that the environmental degradation in tobacco is more linked to political and economic factors. Policies that necessitated the growth of the tobacco industry among them the ‘growth with equity’ and ESAP in the 90s supported export-oriented agricultural production. Furthermore, the government of Zimbabwe’s heavy dependence on tobacco (for almost 23% of its total exports and almost 10% of the national GDP) seems to have blocked serious considerations of environment concerns linked to tobacco production. The ultimate cause of the environmental degradation is therefore the international market for tobacco which creates demand at the local level rather than the poor farmers.

Main title:Understanding poverty-environment interactions
Subtitle:the political ecology of smallholder tobacco production in Marondera District, Eastern Zimbabwe
Authors:Musoma, Richwell Tryson
Supervisor:Oskarsson, Patrik
Examiner:Sandström, Emil
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2016
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM009 Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:poverty-environment interactions, environmental degradation, tobacco, political ecology, sustainable livelihoods
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural research
Agricultural structures
Food science and technology
Landscape architecture
Deposited On:16 Jan 2017 12:05
Metadata Last Modified:16 Jan 2017 12:05

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