Modeling smallholder farmers’ preferences for soil management measures: A case study from South Ethiopia
This article in the journal Ecological Economics investigates investment constraints on soil management technologies among smallholders. Land degradation is a major environmental problem in Ethiopia posing serious threats to agricultural productivity and livelihoods. The interactions of numerous socio-economic, demographic, natural, and institutional factors constitute the underlying causes of soil degradation in Ethiopia. However, there exist evidence gaps on the contextual factors that hinder investments on soil conservation among smallholders. This study uses primary data generated through a stated preference survey among 359 sample smallholder farm households in Southern Ethiopia. Results indicate that smallholders are willing to invest in soil management technologies if appropriate incentive mechanisms, primarily, secured land tenure rights and access to finance are in place. Unfortunately, the prevailing land tenure regime in the country does not allow private property rights on land and smallholders have very limited access to credit. Thus, instituting secure land rights and improving credit access to smallholders should be considered as key interventions to enhance adoption of soil management technologies. The study highlights that policy interventions that incentivize adoption of soil management measures provide not only on-site private benefits but wider societal off-site benefits through the provision of multiple ecosystem services.