Discussion Paper

Nudging Boserup? The Impact of Fertilizer Subsidies on Investment in Soil and Water Conservation

Jun 15, 2012 | Godwin K. Vondolia, Håkan Eggert, Jesper Stage

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


The new fertilizer subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa are intended to increase agricultural production and ensure development of a fertilizer market. Fertilizer adoption requires complementary inputs, such as investment in soil and water conservation (SWC), for efficient and optimal nutrient uptake, and many fertilizer subsidy programs implicitly assume that fertilizer subsidies crowd in such investments. The results of our study of the impact of fertilizer subsidies on SWC efforts in Ghana indicate that beneficiaries of the program do not invest significantly more in SWC. This suggests that policies should not expect farmers to respond to fertilizer subsidies with substantial investment in SWC. Thus, in order to achieve increased investment in SWC for sustainable agricultural development, more comprehensive measures that include fertilizer investments explicitly (such as integrated soil fertility management programs) may be needed.