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Household- and plot-level impacts of sustainable land management practices in the face of climate variability and change: empirical evidence from Dabus Sub-basin, Blue Nile River, Ethiopia

Asrat, Paulos, Simane, Belay
Agriculture & food security 2017 v.6 no.1 pp. 61
climate, farmers, farms, food security, households, issues and policy, labor, sustainable land management, Ethiopia, Nile River
Smallholder farmers can adapt to climate variability and change through sustainable land management (SLM) practices that help to offset the negative impacts at farm level. However, use of these practices as adaptation strategy remains low in Ethiopia in general and the study sites in particular. This study aimed at examining the factors that determine farmers’ decision to use SLM measures and to quantify the impact of the practices on crop productivity at household and plot level. The study was based on household- and plot-level primary data and employed nearest-neighbor matching technique to quantify the impact of using the practices on value of production at household level and plot level. The results revealed that households that implemented SLM practices within the period (2004–2009) experienced a 24.1% higher value of production over non-users in 2016. Similarly, plots that received SLM measures within the period (2004–2009) experienced a 28.6% increase in value of production in 2016. The study also made further analysis at plot level using continuous treatment effects in order to take into account the number of years a plot has been under the practice. The result showed plots with SLM structure that are maintained for at least 6 years have a positive increase in value of production at the end of the 6th year, while those that received the practices recently or those that lacked continuous maintenance did not experience a statistically significant increase in value of production. The result also showed marginal benefit of sustaining the SLM practices increases over time at an increasing rate. The implication is that use of SLM measures and maintenance of the structures are crucial to reap significant benefits from the practices. Although value of production increases given the SLM practices, implementation is labor intensive and there is trade-off with other agricultural activities. Therefore, policy measures are required to incentivize implementation and maintenance of the SLM structures.