Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Political Science


Jennie Popp

Committee Member

Eric Wailes

Second Committee Member

Jefferson Miller

Third Committee Member

John Gaber


Agricultural Policy, Food Security, Jamaica, Smallholder Farmers


This dissertation is comprised of three essays that examined the experiences and welfare of traditional food crop farmers in Western Jamaica. It systematically analyses the interplay between smallholder farmers and often overlooked variables in society. The study used qualitative interviewing, field observations and discourse analysis techniques to generate context-specific evidence for food security policymaking.

The first essay examined smallholder farmers' motives for farming. This formed the basis for a farmer typology that provides a portrait of the participants, and was used to inform findings in subsequent essays in this dissertation. The theory of planned behavior provided the conceptual grounding and contributed to an understanding of the heterogeneity identified among the smallholder farming population. The farmer typology, which could be instrumental for bottom-up policymaking and the efficient allocation of resources, can also aid extension services providers and development practitioners to identify a cadre of farmers sufficiently experienced and motivated to participate in national food security outcomes.

Using the typology developed in the previous essay, the second essay explored smallholder farmers' use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and levels of social capital. The findings showed that mobile phones and radios were used extensively for information and the maintenance of high bonding social capital. However, smallholder farmers lacked proficiency with, and access to internet-based devices. These limitations were reflected in the paucity of wide economic and social networks among farmers in the study area.

The third essay traced the connections between smallholder farmers and the political economy through government discourse. This critical discourse analysis used texts from annual budget presentations to Parliament (2003- 2013) for a longitudinal study, to identify how smallholder farmers were constructed by policymakers and the extent to which policy initiatives targeted their specific needs. The results showed that agricultural programs and food security policy initiatives, toward smallholder farmers in Jamaica, were erratic. The paper also identified pertinent topics missing from the discourse and concluded that the agenda needs to be broadened to address current and potentially impactful problems that have implications for food security outcomes.