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Open Access Publications from the University of California

CEGA is a hub for research on global development, with a network of over 60 academic researchers extending across the University of California, Stanford University, and the University of Washington. Our faculty affiliates design and test solutions for the problems of poverty, generating actionable evidence for policy-makers in less developed countries. Using rigorous field trials, behavioral experiments, and tools from data science, we measure and maximize the impacts of economic development programs throughout the world.

Cover page of Contract Farming, Smallholders and Commercialization of Agriculture in Uganda: The Case of Sorghum, Sunflower, and Rice Contract Farming Schemes.

Contract Farming, Smallholders and Commercialization of Agriculture in Uganda: The Case of Sorghum, Sunflower, and Rice Contract Farming Schemes.

(2009)

Contract farming has expanded in Uganda due to the promotional efforts of various actors: private, public, and/or international aid agencies. While motives for promoting contract farming may vary by actor, it is argued in this study that contract farming is crucial in the commercialization of smallholder agriculture and hence, poverty reduction in Uganda. However, smallholder farmers in Uganda have reportedly experienced some contractual problems when dealing with large agribusiness firms, resulting in them giving up contract farming. Similarly, agribusinesses have also reportedly encountered some contractual problems when dealing with some smallholder farmers that could have led to the exclusion of the latter from contract farming. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to examine the role of contract farming in the commercialization of smallholder agriculture in Uganda by using sunflower, sorghum, and rice contract schemes as case studies. Specifically, the study sought to characterize the sorghum, sunflower, and rice contract schemes as well as identify benefits and problems associated with them. Primary data were collected by a combined use of survey and informal interview methods. A survey of both contracted and non contracted farmers was conducted in Soroti District (Sorghum), Apac District (Sunflower), and Bugiri District (Rice). Informal interviews were held with agribusiness firms (Nile Breweries Limited, Mukwano Industries, and Tilda (U) Limited), their agents, and support organizations. Data were then analyzed using descriptive statistics and non parametric tests (Chi-square and F-tests). While most of the findings from this study are general in nature, some of them are idiosyncratic to the case studies investigated. It was generally found contract farming contributed a great deal to the commercialization of smallholder agriculture in Uganda, especially in the sorghum (Epuripur) and sunflower sub-sectors. While agribusinesses obtained assured supply of raw materials for their processing needs, smallholder farmers on the other hand had access to critical inputs such as improved seeds and extension services, in addition to access to a guaranteed market for their produce. However, there were still some challenges in the organization and operation of the contract farming schemes. Thus, both agribusinesses and policy makers have separate roles to play in making sure contract farming is properly nurtured for the benefit of smallholder farmers in Uganda.

Cover page of Agricultural Technology Adoption:  A Panel Analysis of Smallholder Farmers’ Fertilizer use in Kenya

Agricultural Technology Adoption: A Panel Analysis of Smallholder Farmers’ Fertilizer use in Kenya

(2009)

Africa is the only region where agricultural productivity has continued to decline over the last decades and poverty levels have increased. This has necessitated the need to increase agricultural productivity. One way of increasing agricultural productivity is through introduction and use of improved agricultural technologies. This paper applied a double-hurdle model on a ten-year panel household survey data for 1,275 households to examine determinants of fertilizer adoption and use intensity in Kenya.

Results show that the proportion of households using fertilizer dramatically rose in the last decade while fertilizer application rates increased marginally. Fertilizer use in the drier agro ecological zones is still way below that in the higher agro ecologically potential zones, indicating higher risk involved in and lower profitability of using fertilizer in the drier areas. Econometric estimation results show that age, education, credit, presence of a cash crop, distance to fertilizer market and agro ecological potential are statistically significant in influencing the probability of adopting fertilizer. The strongest determinants of fertilizer use intensity are gender, dependency ratio, credit, presence of cash crop, distance to extension service and agro ecological potential.

The study suggests improving access to gricultural credit by especially low income farmers; concerted efforts to promote fertilizer use among farmers in the drier areas; and government investment in rural infrastructure, efficient port facilities and standards of commerce to reduce the cost of distributing fertilizer, as some of the ways to promote fertilizer use.

Cover page of Recurrent Shocks, Poverty Traps and the Degradation of the Social Capital Base of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Southern Ethiopia

Recurrent Shocks, Poverty Traps and the Degradation of the Social Capital Base of Pastoralism: A Case Study from Southern Ethiopia

(2009)

The long-term effects of shocks are examined in the context of a traditional pastoral community. The impacts are empirically examined in connection with the micro-level poverty trap hypothesis and the associated minimum poverty threshold estimates reported in previous studies. We argue that these estimates cannot be taken as definitive and the core explanations behind them are incongruent with the institutional realities of the pastoral community for which they are reported. The reality is that shocks have implied long-term community-wide deprivation with a lasting effect of deterioration in the indigenous capacity to cushion those who slide into permanent destitution. This is evident in the empirically identified increasing loss of confidence in the indigenous social support structures. The findings rather highlight the need for policy interventions to focus on system level community-wide development issues rather than the commonly emphasized individual targeting implied by such exercises as asset-based poverty threshold estimates.

Cover page of Moving towards pro-poor systems of land administration: Challenges for land and asset distribution in Africa

Moving towards pro-poor systems of land administration: Challenges for land and asset distribution in Africa

(2009)

There are three reasons why land policies in Africa are attracting greater amounts of attention. First, it is recognized that enhancing smallholder productivity is critical for sustainable and broad-based growth as well as poverty reduction (World Bank 2007). However, land-related investment, technology adoption, establishment of processing, markets, and value chains, all are unlikely to come about unless land tenure is secure. Moreover, increased productivity will be capitalized in land values and unless explicit attention is devoted to traditional land rights and land access by weaker groups, in particular women, interventions aiming to increase agricultural productivity may have negative social consequences. This is particularly relevant in contexts where current interpretations of customary systems define women's rights only through their relationship with men and women are often unable to inherit land which is considered the property of their husband's lineage. Negative implications for productivity can be severe, in particular if, as almost everywhere, women make a major contribution to agricultural production and its management.

Second, demand for land, and in many cases land prices, have vastly increased with population growth, urbanization, and overall economic development. While higher land values makes land registration more rewarding, leaving land rights undefined increases the risk of having them appropriated by outsiders in a way that may neither be consistent with principles of equity nor conducive to the most productive use of this resource.

Third, in a decentralized setting, land administration can not only help provide public goods and improve government finance but also that are rural areas will not develop based on agriculture alone. Nonagricultural development will imply migration of households out of agriculture that requires secure land rights so as to allow transfer of land rights, either through rental on a temporary basis or through sale, to others who are able to make more effective use of it without the fear of losing it. In many cases, this is now complemented by demand for land by investors who want to use it for food production, bio-fuels, or in anticipation of carbon payments has increased significantly in the wake of recent commodity price booms. It has highlighted that, without clear processes to process requests or assign of land rights, land acquisition by outsiders may end up fostering corruption and leading to inequality and dispossession of traditional land users rather than as a positive force for growth.

This paper examines the theories identifying channels through which land rights can affect socioeconomic outcomes, points to realities which often prevent such effects from materializing, summarizes quantitative evidence on the actual impact of land registration interventions to assess the validity of theoretical arguments, and derives conclusions that can help guide applied work in this area. An example from Ethiopia is used to illustrate the potentially far-reaching impacts of ‘new' models of formalizing land rights and a number of policy conclusions are drawn.

Cover page of AERC Conference on Agriculture for Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Introduction.

AERC Conference on Agriculture for Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Introduction.

(2009)

The objective of this introduction is to put the May 2009 conference "on Agriculture for Development" in perspective of current and expected changes in the broad process of using agriculture for development in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is to help the conference achieve its two main purposes: assess the frontiers of research in economics applied to agricultural development and smallholder competitiveness; and establish research priorities for future efforts in that direction. It uses the WDR 2008 as a starting point for this task.

Cover page of Seasonality, precautionary savings and health uncertainty: Evidence from farm households in Central Kenya

Seasonality, precautionary savings and health uncertainty: Evidence from farm households in Central Kenya

(2009)

The high prevalence of risks in low income economies implies that people’s ability to manage uncertainty is critical for both productivity and their mere survival. This paper analyses seasonal changes in per capita consumption and saving behaviour of farm households in response to health and weather shocks. The notion that people save most of there transitory income, as postulated by the permanent income hypothesis, and precautionary saving motives are tested using a sample of 196 households examined over three consecutive cropping seasons in Central Kenya. The results show that, while people exhibit some level of prudence, the marginal propensity to save out of transitory income is about 33 percent — about a third of what the permanent income hypothesis postulates. This proportion saved is an indication of the extent of incompleteness of credit and insurance markets in the study area. This shows substantial scope for remedial public action in social protection programmes. Seasonality was found to impact on propensity to save with more stressful seasons adversely affecting both savings and consumption. There were differentiated propensities to smooth consumption between the rich and the poor, with the latter group exhibiting stronger precautionary motives. However, the wealth effect becomes insignificant as the seasons worsen pointing to a vulnerable asset base. Unlike weather uncertainty, consumption rise and savings decline in response to health stress associated with HIV/AIDS. The desire to smooth the health (asset) stock seems to outweigh the desire or ability to smooth future consumption through savings. The consequence is more volatile consumption for HIV/AIDS affected households.

Cover page of What determines the price received by farmers? The case of cocoa in Cameroon

What determines the price received by farmers? The case of cocoa in Cameroon

(2009)

Various works have demonstrated that small-scale agricultural producers from developing countries do not generally obtain the potential gains linked to marketing. What can be done to help them obtain better prices? In this article, we examine two different solutions: increasing the bargaining power of individual producers and collective marketing through producer organizations (POs). We use data on 2,487 cocoa transactions undertaken by producers in Cameroon during the 2005/2006 season (IITA survey 2006). We first of all explore bargaining theories to identify the determinants of the price received by producers who sell their produce individually, and the, analyse the effect of collective marketing. We show that when the bargaining situation is least favourable to the producers (because the prices are nonnegotiable and there is information asymmetry which favours the traders), the traders seize the entire surplus generated by the trade. In order to improve the prices received by producers, it should be necessary to manage their access to credit (so that they will not be bound to any buyer the had obtained credits from, thus ameliorate arbitrate and negotiate the price), and enable them delay their sale until after the start of the school year (so that traders could no longer know the producers financial need). We also show that selling produce via the POs generally results in a price increase of 9% caused by improvement in a reduction in transaction costs (through economies of scale) and improved bargaining power. The article also examines whether or not the mere presence of a PO in a specific zone enables all the producers in this zone (even those who sell individually) to benefit from higher prices. However, a clear conclusion does not arise in this respect.

Cover page of The influence of collective property rights on grazing management in a semi-arid region

The influence of collective property rights on grazing management in a semi-arid region

(2009)

The paper reports on a series of field experiments based on a non-standard common-pool resource model and carried out with communal farmers in southern Africa. We frame an experimental design used by Cardenas et al. (2008) in Thailand and Colombia according to the grazing situation in semi-arid regions. We analyse the efficiency of two simple, imperfectly enforced property-rights mechanisms that base on both, informal realworld arrangements practised in the communal areas as well as on the procedure pursued by the Namibian government, where mostly those farmers with big herd sizes get granted access to resettlement farms. Our results suggest that in the short run, the introduction of property rights increases the economic returns and has positive ecological effects, but that these effects diminish in the long-run if imperfectly enforced. It further seems that players’ propensity to co-operate is constant across the experiment: farmers who behave less co-operatively in an open access situation do so as well when they get granted exclusive property rights.

Cover page of Agricultural Productivity and Mortality: Evidence from Kagera, Tanzania

Agricultural Productivity and Mortality: Evidence from Kagera, Tanzania

(2009)

We ask whether prime-age adult mortality due to HIV/AIDS decreases the endowment of knowledge for agricultural production in Kagera, Tanzania, reducing total factor productivity. We also quantify how much this negative effect contributes to the decrease in long-term household agricultural income growth compared to the contribution of decreased accumulation of productive assets; household members, land, and livestock. We find that prime-age adult mortality decreases the accumulation of knowledge stock as total factor productivity and the contribution of this negative effect to the decrease in agricultural income growth is larger than the contribution of decreased accumulation of each productive asset.

Cover page of Impact of Public Market Information System (PMIS) on Farmers Food Marketing Decisions: Case of Benin

Impact of Public Market Information System (PMIS) on Farmers Food Marketing Decisions: Case of Benin

(2009)

To sell their surpluses of maize, the main staple in Benin, farmers may choose among three modes of transaction: they may sell under a contract with itinerant traders, or they may sell without a contract at the farmgate or on distant markets. It has been postulated that farmers may choose a profitable mode of transaction if they have good access to information on the prevailing market conditions. Using detailed farm household survey data from Benin, this paper applies the Nested Logit model to test this hypothesis. The results show that farmers are likely to opt for selling at the farmgate without a contract if they have good access to information. However, such a decision may not be related to access to information through the government supported 'Public Market Information System' but rather it is likely to be induced by access to information through farmers' own social networks.