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Population, land tenure, and natural resource management: the case of customary land area in Malawi

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  • Place, Frank
  • Otsuka, Keijiro

Abstract

This paper uses cross section-time series data on 57 communities in Malawi to determine statistically the factors determining changes in land use, tree cover, and crop yield. The econometric model is developed from a theoretical model which also endogenizes population growth and prevailing land tenure institutions within the customary sector of Malawi. The analysis reflects changes between 1971 and 1995, utilizing aerial photos taken at these dates and complementing these with field surveys. The data show a deterioration of Malawi's natural resource base: declining yields, loss of tree cover, and near exhaustion of land for agricultural expansion. Key findings are that population pressure induces land conversion but not yield or tree cover change; the matrilocal system of household residence is negatively associated with tree cover but induces agricultural conversion; and there is some improvement in management of resources as their scarcity increases. Policy recommendations include greater focus on agroforestry to increase tree cover as woodland areas are poorly managed, and increased effort to improve market integration since this benefits crop yields without adverse effects on tree cover.

Suggested Citation

  • Place, Frank & Otsuka, Keijiro, 1997. "Population, land tenure, and natural resource management: the case of customary land area in Malawi," EPTD discussion papers 27, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:27
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    File URL: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/eptdp27.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jonathan Kydd, 1989. "Maize research in Malawi: Lessons from failure," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 112-144, January.
    2. Ault, David E & Rutman, Gilbert L, 1979. "The Development of Individual Rights to Property in Tribal Africa," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 163-182, April.
    3. 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).
    4. Frank Place & Keijiro Otsuka, 2000. "Population Pressure, Land Tenure, and Tree Resource Management in Uganda," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 76(2), pages 233-251.
    5. French, David, 1986. "Confronting an unsolvable problem: Deforestation in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 531-540, April.
    6. Smale, Melinda, 1995. ""Maize is life": Malawi's delayed Green Revolution," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 819-831, May.
    7. Kydd, Jonathan & Christiansen, Robert, 1982. "Structural change in Malawi since independence: Consequences of a development strategy based on large-scale agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 355-375, May.
    8. Hyde, William F & Amacher, Gregory S & Magrath, William, 1996. "Deforestation and Forest Land Use: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 223-248, August.
    9. Ehui, Simeon K. & Hertel, Thomas W. & Preckel, Paul V., 1990. "Forest resource depletion, soil dynamics, and agricultural productivity in the tropics," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 136-154, March.
    10. Mendelsohn, Robert, 1994. "Property Rights and Tropical Deforestation," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 750-756, Supplemen.
    11. Dewees, Peter A., 1995. "Trees on farms in Malawi: Private investment, public policy, and farmer choice," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(7), pages 1085-1102, July.
    12. 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 903-937, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ryan, James G., 1999. "Assessing the impact of policy research and capacity building by IFPRI in Malawi:," Impact assessments 11, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Fisher, Monica G. & Shively, Gerald E., 2003. "Do Tropical Forests Provide A Safety Net? Income Shocks And Forest Extraction In Malawi," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22228, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

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