Essays on Smallholder Behavior in Response to Resource Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa
Kakpo, Ange T.
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This dissertation consists of three chapters that address two major resource challenges faced by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa: (i) weather shocks and (ii) limited land access for agricultural production. The first chapter looks at how weather shocks affect millet production and millet market price seasonality in Niger. In this paper, we use district-level longitudinal production and price data, along with high-resolution rainfall data to investigate the distinct impacts of positive and negative rainfall shocks on millet production and millet price seasonality in Niger. We find that a one standard deviation decrease in seasonal rainfall from historical averages is associated with declines in millet market price initially after harvest, but strong upward pressure on market prices 6 months after harvest. As a result, drought exacerbates existing price seasonality, which in turn can amplify negative impacts on households. Social protection programs need to account for potential increases in seasonal price variability in the design of programs to enhance household resilience to weather shocks. To better understand the household behavior that gives rise to the price responses observed in the first chapter, we explore weather shock impacts on household millet market participation in Niger in the second chapter. We merge a nationally representative household panel data with high-resolution spatially disaggregated rainfall data. We find that households are more likely to participate in the market as net sellers with negative rainfall shocks, but marketed quantity for net sellers decreases with negative rainfall shocks. Diversification into non-agricultural activities can mediate the impacts of negative rainfall shocks on market participation and lead to increases in volume of sales. Policies that support household involvement in the rural nonfarm economy through training and access to credit to help expand businesses may also stimulate millet market participation. In the third chapter, we use a rich dataset of 1,123 households to examine the determinants of individual household member access to groundnut fields, the predominant cash-crop in the Groundnut Basin of Senegal. The analysis also explores the implications of limited land access on groundnut productivity of young adult and female field managers. We find that young adults and females have fewer opportunities to access land compared to older and male household members. Further, we show that higher productivity may not be driving differential access to fields among older adults. Results suggest that with equal access, young adults may be as or more productive groundnut cultivators than older adults. Programs to increase young adult and female economic opportunities should focus on closing gaps in access to resources for production rather than decreasing observed production disparities.
General Audience Abstract
This dissertation addresses two major challenges that small farmers face in Sub-Saharan Africa: (i) erratic changes in weather patterns and (ii) land access for agricultural production. We divide the dissertation in three chapters. The first two chapters focus on weather shocks, while the third chapter focuses on land access. In the first chapter, we discuss how low and high rainfall affect the seasonal variation of market prices for the most important staple grain (millet) in Niger (West Africa). We find that lower rainfall than usual makes households sell their millet in the post-harvest period when market prices are generally low, and makes them buy back millet in the lean season when market prices are often high. As a result, policies that aim support household resilience to climate shocks should design programs that account for potential increases in seasonal price variability. In the second chapter, we study how low rainfall levels affect Niger millet farmers' decision to sell or not sell their harvest, as well as the association between low rainfall and the quantity of millet sold and bought. We distinguish three groups of farmers: (i) net buyers who have higher millet purchases than sales, (ii) autarkic who have zero millet purchases and millet sales, and (iii) net sellers who have higher sales than purchases. Our findings show that lower rainfall increases net sellers' probability to sell their millet, whereas it decreases the quantity they sell. Our results also reveal that households who diversify their sources of income into non-agricultural activities increase millet net sales even with low rainfall levels. Policies that support household involvement in these non-agricultural activities may also stimulate millet market participation. In the third chapter, we study the factors that affect household members' access to a groundnut field in Senegal with a particular focus on young adults and females. We show that females and young adults are less likely to access a field compared to older and male household members. Our results also suggest that with equal access, young adults may be as or more productive groundnut cultivators than older adults. Programs to increase young adult and female economic opportunities should focus on closing gaps in access to resources for production.
- Doctoral Dissertations