Policies for Sustainable Development: The Commercialization of Smallholder Agriculture

  • Manfred ZellerEmail author
  • Susanne Ufer
  • Dinh Thi Tuyet Van
  • Thea Nielsen
  • Pepijn Schreinemachers
  • Prasnee Tipraqsa
  • Thomas Berger
  • Camille Saint-Macary
  • Le Thi Ai Van
  • Alwin Keil
  • Pham Thi My Dung
  • Franz Heidhues
Part of the Springer Environmental Science and Engineering book series (SPRINGERENVIRON)


Sustainable development requires a mix of policies that can simultaneously address social, economic and environmental objectives. While the preceding chapters of this book have focused on agricultural, environmental and socio-economic aspects and related policies, this chapter looks at the commercialization of smallholder agriculture and, in particular, the need to target the poor so as to enable them to better participate in market-oriented development. The mountainous regions of northern Thailand and northern Vietnam have witnessed a substantial transformation over the last two decades, turning as they have from largely subsistence-oriented to market-oriented agriculture. This development began in Thailand earlier than in Vietnam, but during the 2000s, smallholder agriculture in Vietnam also commercialized at a rapid rate, leading to an increase in farm incomes and a decline in poverty levels. Our main policy conclusion here is that the commercialization of agriculture can be conducive to a sustainable increase in smallholder incomes and reduction of poverty levels; however, policies aimed at addressing the environmental externalities caused by market participation must be combined with socially-oriented policies that target poorer segments of the population, especially in the areas of education, health, social assistance, political participation and non-subsidized credit, as well as infrastructure and market-oriented development policies aimed at long-run sustainability.



Analysis of Variance


Balanced Poverty Accuracy Criterion


Crop Diversification Index


Linear Probability Model


Living Standard Measurement Survey


Ministry of Labor Invalids and Social Affairs


Ordinary Least Squares


Poverty Incidence Error


Statistical Analysis System


Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development


Vietnam Bank for Social Policies


Vietnamese dong



We gratefully acknowledge the funding provided for the Uplands Program (SFB 564) by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Ministry of Science and Technology in Vietnam, and also thank Volker Hoffmann and Oliver Frör for their constructive comments, Gary Morrison for editorial work, and Peter Elstner for helping with the layout.

Open Access. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2013

Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manfred Zeller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susanne Ufer
    • 1
  • Dinh Thi Tuyet Van
    • 1
  • Thea Nielsen
    • 1
  • Pepijn Schreinemachers
    • 2
  • Prasnee Tipraqsa
    • 3
  • Thomas Berger
    • 2
  • Camille Saint-Macary
    • 1
  • Le Thi Ai Van
    • 1
  • Alwin Keil
    • 1
  • Pham Thi My Dung
    • 4
  • Franz Heidhues
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Rural Development Theory and Policy (490a)University of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Department of Land Use Economics in the Tropics and Subtropics (490d)University of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Chiang Mai UniversityChiang MaiThailand
  4. 4.Faculty of Economics and Rural DevelopmentHanoi Agricultural UniversityHanoiVietnam

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