Exploring determinants of farmers' investments in land management in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia

Adimassu Teferi, Z.; Kessler, A.; Hengsdijk, H.


Land degradation, especially water erosion and nutrient depletion, seriously affects agricultural production in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Farmers' investments to conserve their land are until now however quite limited. The objective of this study is to identify the major factors that determine farmers' decisions how much and where to invest in land management. Exploratory factor analysis and Pearson correlation were used to analyse the data from 240 households operating 738 plots in three different production domains. The study identified five major factors that influence farmers' decisions how much to invest in land management: (1) households' resource endowments, (2) farming experience and knowledge, (3) access to information, (4) social capital and (5) availability of family labour. This result implies that extension strategies aiming at sustainable land management should try to enhance households' resources endowments and improve their access to information. Moreover, the influence of social capital and availability of family labour indicates the crucial importance of collective action in land management. Similarly, the study revealed that farmers are more willing to invest in plots that (1) are vulnerable to water erosion, (2) have better soil fertility and (3) are larger. However, the influence of these factors on farmers' investments in land management was highly variable across the considered production domains. Hence, the diversity in social, economic, cultural and biophysical conditions must be taken into account by rural extension programmes. This calls for site-specific land management strategies that can be planned and implemented at micro-level with active participation of farmers