The economics of Cain and Abel: Agro-pastoral rights in the Sahel
van den Brink, R. J. E.
MetadataShow full item record
The complementarity of the economic systems of nomads and farmers is often overshadowed by the conflicts inherent in the competition over the control of land. The conflict is one of property rights. A dynamic programming model of the West African Sahel is presented that simulates the emergence of a dual economy based on the comparative advantage of the farmer and the pastoralist. The model illustrates that exclusive private property rights have no claim to optimality. The analysis of risk in an intertemporal framework suggests the optimality of another type of property right, the right to flexible adjustment typically claimed by the pastoralist. Multiple property regimes provide optimal setting for farmers and pastoralists. The case for property regimes as instrumental variables in development policy is developed, showing that highly diverse and variable agricultural ecosystems demand property regimes that allow quick human response to new exigencies. Policies in the Sahel should acknowledge the structurally different techniques that underlie the agricultural and pastoral systems, respectively. (CAB Abstract)