Relevance of informal institutions for achieving sustainable crop intensification in Uganda
This paper (PDF) in the Food Security journal analyzes the influence of informal institutions on farmers’ access to land resources, financial resources, and farm inputs to achieve Sustainable Crop Intensification (SCI). The analysis is based on qualitative and quantitative data in Eastern and Southwestern Uganda. Results indicate that informal institutions play a central role in enhancing farmers’ investment in SCI interventions by facilitating access to land through inheritance, land rentals, and labor sharing arrangements, although they are biased against non-clan members and female members of the communities. Informal institutions also enable access to financial resources by farmers at lower transaction cost compared to formal financial institutions. Yet, the informal institutions face challenges related to poor rule enforcement and limited financial reserves. The contribution of informal institutions in improving farmers’ access to (i) external farm inputs, (ii) serving as forums for knowledge sharing and (iii) regulating quality of farm inputs is minimal. Findings imply that development interventions could benefit from using informal institutions as entry points for investment in SCI and building on institutions’ strengths in influencing access to land and financial resources. Policies and programs that promote the SCI approach need to recognize the role of informal institutions for increased implementation and impact. Future research should focus on identifying and testing models to better link formal and informal institutions relevant to SCI in order to maximize potential synergies between both systems, to avoid parallel and sometimes conflicting institutional incentives, and to reduce the negative impact that both systems may have on the ‘weaker’ groups in the community that may have disadvantages preventing their adoption of SCI in either institutional system.