Discussion Paper

Investments in Land Conservation in the Ethiopian Highlands: A Household Plot-Level Analysis of the Roles of Poverty, Tenure Security, and Market Incentives

Mar 26, 2010 | Genanew Bekele, Alemu Mekonnen

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


Land degradation is a major problem undermining land productivity in the highlands of Ethiopia. This study explores the factors that affect farm households’ decisions at the plot level to investin land conservation and how much to invest, focusing on the roles of poverty, land tenure security, and market access. Unlike most other studies, we used a double-hurdle model in the analysis with panel datacollected in a household survey of 6,408 plots in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. The results suggest that the decisions to adopt land conservation investment and how much to invest appear to be explained by different processes. Poverty-related factors seem to have a mixed effect on both the adoption and intensity decisions. While a farmer’s adoption decision is influenced by whether or not the plot is owner-operated (a measure of risk for the immediate period), intensity of conservation is determined by expectation of the certainty of cultivating the land for the next five years (a measure of risk for the longer term), farmer’s belief of land ownership, and distance from plot to home.