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Economic and institutional factors affecting the adoption of soil conservation technologies in Central America

By: Sain, G | Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT), Mexico DF (Mexico) | International Conference on Impacts of Agricultural Research and Development San José (Costa Rica) 4-7 Feb 2002.
Contributor(s): Zurek, M [coaut.] | Watson, D.J [ed.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookAnalytics: Show analyticsPublisher: Mexico, DF (Mexico) CIMMYT : 2003Description: p. 97.ISBN: 970-648-076-5.Subject(s): Economic environment | Farmers | Natural resources | Soil conservation | Soil erosion and reclamation | Technology | Topography | CIMMYT | Agricultural research AGROVOCSummary: Due to the mountainous topography of Central America (CA), heavy rainfalls during the long-lasting rainy season, and the continuing use of soil- degrading farm management practices, soil erosion is one of the major threats to the natural resource base, agricultural productivity, and survival of small-scale farmers in the region. Despite the promotion of many different soil conservation techniques by many governmental and non-governmental organizations in the last 20 years, the overall adoption of these kinds of technologies has been relatively low, especially among small-scale farmers. This study assesses the adoption and impact of conservation technologies at three different levels of aggregation.||First, at the regional level, fifteen widely promoted soil conservation practices are assessed according to four economic criteria and compared with the main economic circumstances of small farmers in CA. Results suggest that most techniques promoted in CA do not match small farmers' circumstances for one or more of the criteria.||Second, we conducted a comparative analysis of the factors affecting the adoption of different technologies, using the results of adoption studies performed over the past ten years. The analysis examines both the demand for new technologies and their supply in the region. Results from the supply side show that institutions failed to recognize the particular characteristics that differentiated environmental innovations from commercial innovations, suggesting a need for to understand farmers' demands for such technologies. In particular, three characteristics of environmental innovations were found to be incompatible with small farmers' circumstances: (1) the need for farmers to make a significant initial investment in terms of land, capital or labor; (2) the existence of a time lag before farmers obtain benefits; and (3) complex management requirements in terms of land allocation and technology maintenance. On the demand side, three main factors were identified as being responsible for the lack of widespread adoption of soil conserving technologies: (1) farmers' inability to capture long- term benefits caused mainly by insecure land tenure and low wealth levels; (2) high transaction costs associated with adopting the innovations, particularly the costs of acquiring and processing information about the technology, as well as high land and labor opportunity costs; and (3) market failures related to the interaction between cropping and livestock systems in areas where common grazing predominates.||Third, the impact of conservation tillage and mulching was assessed. Using the results of an in- depth case study in El Salvador, a simulation model was built to identify the effects of a set of alternative policy measured aimed to foster a more sustainable and productive maize production system in CA. As well as beneficial effects on soil characteristics and increased land productivity, some negative effects were identified in terms of the increased use of pesticides that could be deleterious to the environment and farmers' health. Diffusion of the technology to other regions could be restricted by the interaction with the livestock system and the malfunction or non-existence of fodder markets.Collection: CIMMYT Staff Publications Collection
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Conference proceedings CIMMYT Knowledge Center: John Woolston Library

Lic. Jose Juan Caballero Flores

 

CIMMYT Staff Publications Collection CIS-3807 (Browse shelf) 1 Available 632446
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Abstract only

Due to the mountainous topography of Central America (CA), heavy rainfalls during the long-lasting rainy season, and the continuing use of soil- degrading farm management practices, soil erosion is one of the major threats to the natural resource base, agricultural productivity, and survival of small-scale farmers in the region. Despite the promotion of many different soil conservation techniques by many governmental and non-governmental organizations in the last 20 years, the overall adoption of these kinds of technologies has been relatively low, especially among small-scale farmers. This study assesses the adoption and impact of conservation technologies at three different levels of aggregation.||First, at the regional level, fifteen widely promoted soil conservation practices are assessed according to four economic criteria and compared with the main economic circumstances of small farmers in CA. Results suggest that most techniques promoted in CA do not match small farmers' circumstances for one or more of the criteria.||Second, we conducted a comparative analysis of the factors affecting the adoption of different technologies, using the results of adoption studies performed over the past ten years. The analysis examines both the demand for new technologies and their supply in the region. Results from the supply side show that institutions failed to recognize the particular characteristics that differentiated environmental innovations from commercial innovations, suggesting a need for to understand farmers' demands for such technologies. In particular, three characteristics of environmental innovations were found to be incompatible with small farmers' circumstances: (1) the need for farmers to make a significant initial investment in terms of land, capital or labor; (2) the existence of a time lag before farmers obtain benefits; and (3) complex management requirements in terms of land allocation and technology maintenance. On the demand side, three main factors were identified as being responsible for the lack of widespread adoption of soil conserving technologies: (1) farmers' inability to capture long- term benefits caused mainly by insecure land tenure and low wealth levels; (2) high transaction costs associated with adopting the innovations, particularly the costs of acquiring and processing information about the technology, as well as high land and labor opportunity costs; and (3) market failures related to the interaction between cropping and livestock systems in areas where common grazing predominates.||Third, the impact of conservation tillage and mulching was assessed. Using the results of an in- depth case study in El Salvador, a simulation model was built to identify the effects of a set of alternative policy measured aimed to foster a more sustainable and productive maize production system in CA. As well as beneficial effects on soil characteristics and increased land productivity, some negative effects were identified in terms of the increased use of pesticides that could be deleterious to the environment and farmers' health. Diffusion of the technology to other regions could be restricted by the interaction with the livestock system and the malfunction or non-existence of fodder markets.

Socioeconomics Program

English

0309|R01CIMPU|AGRIS 0301|AL-Economics Program

Juan Carlos Mendieta

CIMMYT Staff Publications Collection

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Si tiene cualquier pregunta, contáctenos a CIMMYT-Knowledge-Center@cgiar.org