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Date of publication: 
octobre 2004
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This study investigates the impacts of rural poverty on farmers' land managementdecisions, crop production and incomes, based upon analysis of data from the 1999/2000Uganda National Household Survey. We find that the impacts of rural poverty on landmanagement, crop production and income depend upon the type of poverty (i.e., what assetor access factor is constrained) and the type of land management considered.Ugandan households that are poorer in terms of access to land use labor moreintensively and are less likely to use several land management practices and inputs, thoughamong households that do use non-labor inputs, land-poor households use many of theseinputs more intensively. As a result, land-poor households obtain higher value of cropproduction per acre, though they have substantially lower incomes per capita than land rich households. Thus, access to land is a key factor affecting intensity of land management andrural poverty.Households with access to poorer quality land use less labor and most non-laborinputs, and obtain lower crop production and income. To the extent that land quality isdeclining as a result of soil nutrient depletion and other land degradation problems, theseresults suggest a downward spiral of land degradation! declining land quality -- lowerinvestment in land management -- further land degradation.Households that are poorer in terms of ownership of physical assets are less apt toadopt most land management practices and non-labor inputs. Households with less livestockobtain lower crop yields, and households with less of other assets obtain lower income. Thissuggests another negative cycle: low assets -- low investment in land management and lowincome -- continued land degradation and low assets.Households who are poorer in terms of males' access to education invest less in mostinputs and land management technologies, and obtain lower incomes. Households in whichfemales lack education use labor more intensively in agriculture but also obtain lowerincomes. These households may be locked into a similar cycle of low education -- lowinvestment in land management and low incomes -- land degradation and continued lowassets.Households in communities with lower wage rates use labor more intensively inagriculture, but use several non-labor inputs less intensively, and obtain lower value of cropproduction and incomes. Thus lack of off-farm opportunities may contribute to keeping poorhouseholds in a poverty and land degradation trap.Households without access to extension, market information or credit are less apt touse several modern non-labor inputs, likely resulting in lower crop production. Householdswith poor access to roads use less organic or inorganic fertilizer, which can contribute to landdegradation. Poorer road access is also associated with lower value of crop production peracre in the Eastern and Western regions and lower income in the Central region. Thus lackof access to infrastructure and services also may prevent households from exiting thepoverty-land degradation trap, though the impacts may be location specific. Our results suggest that improvement in smallholders' access to land, other assets,education, extension, market information, credit, roads, and off-farm opportunities can helpto break the downward cycle of poverty and land degradation, and put farmers on a moresustainable development pathway. Access to land (area and quality), other assets, educationand off-farm opportunities appear to be particularly important in addressing poverty directly,while other interventions are likely to have more indirect impacts, as they influence landmanagement, crop choice, and other livelihood decisions. Given the importance of land asthe major asset owned by poor rural households in Uganda, investing in land qualitymaintenance and improvement is a critical need. However, we found low marginal returns toinvestments in organic or inorganic fertilizer and other land management practices,suggesting that it will be difficult to get farmers to make such investments in the presentenvironment. Improvements in the market environment as well as development of moreprofitable land management technologies appears essential to address this need.

Auteurs et éditeurs

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Pender, John L.
Ssewanyana, Sarah N.
Edward, Kato
Nkonya, Ephraim M.

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