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Investment In Soil Conservation In Northern Ethiopia: The Role Of Land Tenure Security And Public Programs

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  • Gebremedhin, Berhanu
  • Swinton, Scott M.

Abstract

Soil erosion seriously threatens the future agricultural productivity of Ethiopia's highlands. In analyzing the determinants of soil conservation investments there, this study goes beyond the conventional physical factors to examine institutional, social capital and public program effects. The double hurdle statistical analysis from 250 farms in the Tigray region reveals different causal factors for soil conservation adoption versus intensity of use. The determinants of adoption of soil conservation measures vary sharply between stone terraces and soil bunds. Physical propensity toward erosion (e.g., slope, slope shape and soil texture) and land suitability for conservation helped determine conservation investments in all cases. But institutional and social determinants of investment differed importantly between bunds and terraces. Long-term investments in stone terraces were associated with secure land tenure, labor availability, proximity to the farmstead, and learning opportunities via the availability of food-for-work projects. By contrast, short-term investments in soil bunds were strongly linked to insecure land tenure and the absence of food-for-work projects. Farm beneficiaries of public soil conservation programs were less likely to invest privately in either type of conservation practice. Social capital, as measured by farmer perception of community pressure to curb soil erosion, did not contribute significantly to either kind of conservation investment. The intensity of stone terrace adoption (measured as meters of terrace per hectare) was determined by expected returns but not by capacity to invest. Higher intensity of stone terrace construction was favored by fertile-but-erodible silty soils in (rainy) highland settings that offered valuable yield benefits from soil conservation. Intensity of terracing was also greater in remote villages where limited off-farm employment opportunities made construction costs relatively low. Previous research has highlighted the need for public policy interventions to supplement private incentives to make soil conservation investments in erosion-prone mountain areas. Our results highlight the importance of the right kind of public interventions. Direct public involvement in constructing soil conservation structures on private lands appears to undermine incentives for private conservation investments. When done on public lands, however, public conservation activities may encourage private soil conservation by example. Secure land tenure rights clearly reinforce private incentives to make long-term investments in soil conservation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics in its series Staff Papers with number 11749.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ags:midasp:11749

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Keywords: Land Economics/Use;

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  1. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
  2. Joseph Hayes & Michael Roth & Lydia Zepeda, 1997. "Tenure Security, Investment and Productivity in Gambian Agriculture: A Generalized Probit Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(2), pages 369-382.
  3. Clay, Daniel & Reardon, Thomas & Kangasniemi, Jaakko, 1998. "Sustainable Intensification in the Highland Tropics: Rwandan Farmers' Investments in Land Conservation and Soil Fertility," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 351-77, January.
  4. Sarah Gavian & Marcel Fafchamps, 1996. "Land Tenure and Allocative Efficiency in Niger," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(2), pages 460-471.
  5. Sureshwaran, Suresh & Londhe, S.R. & Frazier, P., 1996. "Factors Influencing Soil Conservation Decisions in Developing Countries: A Case Study of Upland Farmers in the Philippines," Journal of Agribusiness, Agricultural Economics Association of Georgia, vol. 14(1).
  6. Otsuka, Keijiro & Suyanto, S. & Tomich, Thomas P., 1997. "Does land tenure insecurity discourage tree planting?: evolution of customary land tenure and agroforestry management in Sumatra," EPTD discussion papers 31, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  7. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein T., 1998. "Resource degradation and adoption of land conservation technologies in the Ethiopian Highlands: A case study in Andit Tid, North Shewa," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 233-247, May.
  8. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein, 1999. "Soil Erosion and Smallholders' Conservation Decisions in the Highlands of Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 739-752, April.
  9. Christine A. Ervin & David E. Ervin, 1982. "Factors Affecting the Use of Soil Conservation Practices: Hypotheses, Evidence, and Policy Implications," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 58(3), pages 277-292.
  10. Pender, John L. & Kerr, John M., 1998. "Determinants of farmers' indigenous soil and water conservation investments in semi-arid India," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 19(1-2), pages 113-125, September.
  11. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  12. Feder, Gershon, et al, 1992. "The Determinants of Farm Investment and Residential Construction in Post-Reform China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 1-26, October.
  13. Pender, John L. & Kerr, John M., 1998. "Determinants of farmers' indigenous soil and water conservation investments in semi -arid India," Agricultural Economics: The Journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 19(1-2), September.
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