structural changes in
informing policy dialogue

Towards an International Typology of Agricultural Holdings

WAW Secretariat took the initiative to launch a first international consultation of all its stakeholders in April 2012, in order to establish a common methodological framework. The first component of this methodological framework was to define an international typology of Agricultural Holdings, which could notably inform policy dialogue on the concepts of family, patronal and corporate farms.

Phase 1: A litterature review and a set of national studies based on a common set of criteria

IFAD has been supporting the WAW Secretariat in this process through a Small Grant for a Project called “Methodology and Tests for the World Agriculture Watch”. This Project started in February 2013 and was achieved in April 2014, see the final Report. The main goal of the IFAD Small Grant was to develop, test and validate the core pillar of the WAW methodological framework, and to propose a first draft of an international typology of agricultural holdings, which will contribute to:

  1. Define the different types of agricultural holdings within one country and their ongoing transformations with tools enabling international comparisons, and
  2. Support the monitoring of transformations to inform policy debate at country level.

Both aspects shall facilitate further poverty analysis and policy formulation, highlighting stakes and policy needs of the most vulnerable groups. The activities, mainly founded by the IFAD Grant, but also France, CIRAD and FAO (ESW), have been implemented with the support of an international team of Consultants: Silvia Saravia-Matus, Dragoş Cimpoieş and Tévécia Ronzon.

Preparatory work leading to the proposal for an international typology of holding included: facilitation of a wide Dgroup discussion, extensive literature review (187 sources from 73 different countries. This bibliographic database is now available through the WAW website and is online searchable.

It was decided, after an expert consultation held at the end of May,  to take into consideration only three variables, as discriminating variables, as they were likely to be most internationally comparable, and to test them against the data available within the WAW Partners Network. These three variables were:

1. Usage of family vis-à-vis hired labor;

2. Management, decision making process and legal status of the holding;

3. Production and its relationship to consumption or market.

The Report of the Consultants is accessible online, with the different following Chapters:

  • Chapter 1: General introduction
  • Chapter 2: Overview of Typologies of Agricultural Holdings in Different Geographical areas and focus (with Annexes)
  • Chapter 3: Proposal of an international Typology of Agricultural Holdings under the WAW Methodological Framework

In Madagascar and Vietnam, the two Pilot Observatories used these selected criteria and the related template provided by the WAW Secretariat to produce a national study defining the different types of Agricultural Holding in their respective countries. In the same time a desk study was undertaken in Nicaragua by a WAW Consultant, Francisco Perez, and in France by INRA[1], using this common template of criteria. 

Phase 2: Collective debates within an extended WAW Network and publication of a Synthesis Report on Typology

The WAW Secretariat organized, from February to April 2014, a set of e-conferences followed by e-discussions through the WAW Typology D-group in order to put into debates the 4 national reports presenting the agricultural holding typology in Madagascar, Vietnam, France and Nicaragua. You can access to these reports by clicking on the countries. The group of discussion was also opened up by the case studies in Brazil (PPT, article), presented by Pr. Carlos Guanziroli (University of Rio), in Argentina (PPT, article), presented by Edith Obschatko (PROCISUR), and in Malawi (PPT, article), presented by Mathilde Douillet (FARM). You can access to the presentations made by these Colleagues by clicking on the countries.

These e-conferences and e-discussions based on studies from seven countries facilitated the drafting of a Synthesis Report on typology, produced by the WAW Secretariat with the support of Silvia Saravia Matus (International Consultant). This first draft was discussed within the WAW Typology D-group and was finalized in December 2014. You can access to this report (105p.) and its executive summary (20p.) by clicking on the link : WAW Typology Synthesis Report.


[1] The work was conducted by Céline Bignebat, INRA, UMR 1110 MOISA, 2 place Viala, F-34060 Montpellier Cedex 1, France

Last updated on January 7th, 2015