Issues in the analysis of the effects of policy on conservation and productivity at the household level in developing countries

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Frankfurt am Main, Germany: DLG-Verlag


Policy makers in developing countries have a pressing concern in the short-term for their agricultural sectors: large productivity increases to fuel overall growth and alleviate rural poverty. In some zones, especially in low potential zones, degradation poses an immediate threat to output growth. In high potential zones it is also a long-term threat that could undermine short-run productivity increases. The paper distinguishes 'productivity investments' and 'conservation investments'. One does not always promote the other, but both are needed. Productivity investments that might undermine long-term sustainability need to be completed by conservation investments (bunds, terraces, windbreaks, etc.). The most desirable are investments that do both. The household's decision process to choose cropping and conservation investments and land-use practices is conceptualized as being nested in a larger household decision process that proceeds from multisectoral choices, through sectoral choices, through choices of types of investments. It is argued that this is an essential perspective for the examination of policy effects on the environment. Finally, it is contended that macro and sectoral policies determine the profitability of agriculture, and hence the household's will to make investments in agriculture (whether cropping or conservation), but the State needs complementary, specific policies to encourage and enable the household to make complementary soil conservation investments. [CAB Abstracts]


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Economic policy, Community development, Conservation, Agriculture, Natural resource management, Governance


Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture 31(4): 381-396