Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Strategies for sustainable land management in the East African Highlands
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges IFPRI as the source of this information:


Land degradation is a severe problem in the densely populated highlands of East Africa and elsewhere on the African continent. Soil erosion resulting from cultivation on steeply sloping terrain, mining of soil fertility due to continuous cultivation with limited application of inorganic or organic sources of soil nutrients, and deforestation and overgrazing of rangelands are among the key factors causing low agricultural productivity, widespread poverty, and food insecurity in the region. Finding ways to achieve more sustainable and productive land management is an urgent need, requiring policy, institutional, and technological strategies that are well targeted to the heterogeneous landscapes and diverse biophysical and socioeconomic contexts found in the East African highlands. This volume helps to address this information need.

The book is based on papers originally presented at the conference "Policies for Sustainable Land Management in the East African Highlands," held at the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa in April 2002. That conference was sponsored by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); the World Agroforestry Centre (formerly ICRAF); the East and Central Africa Program for Agricultural Policy Analysis (ECAPAPA); the African Highlands Initiative (AHI); the Soil, Water and Nutrient Management Program (SWNM) of the CGIAR; the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); and the Regional Land Management Unit (RELMA) of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The material focuses on land management issues in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, which include most of the people and area of the East African highlands.

The book reports the results of a large number of careful empirical studies of livelihoods and land management, showing that different strategies are needed for different contexts in the East African highlands and illustrating promising options for major development domains based on the theory of comparative advantage. In areas of high agricultural potential and favorable market access, a virtuous circle is possible, in which promotion of high-value commodities and nonfarm activities can facilitate improved land management, as observed in central Kenya. Investments in infrastructure and market institutions, a supportive policy environment, and efforts to address pest and disease problems are keys to success in such areas. In areas of high agricultural potential but less favorable market access, less perishable agricultural commodities—such as coffee and cereals—have comparative advantage. The development of market infrastructure and institutions for these commodities is particularly important, along with land management options, such as the promotion of inorganic fertilizer and improved seeds. In areas of lower agricultural potential, the comparative advantage is less in high-value crops or intensive cereal production, except where irrigation is available, and more targeted use of costly inputs is needed. Investments in livestock, tree planting, beekeeping, and other livelihoods often yield higher returns in such environments, but they depend on effective institutions to manage common property resources, such as grazing lands, forests, and community woodlots, as well as community and household investments in soil and water conservation.

Beyond the need to consider different long-run comparative advantages, the studies in the book also demonstrate the importance of farmer-centered approaches to agricultural technical assistance and credit, giving adequate attention to the near-term profitability and risks of alternative approaches. Even well-intentioned interventions can have negative impacts on smallholders where they are not well suited to the needs and constraints of farmers.

The findings and implications of this book should be useful to policymakers and practitioners seeking to address problems of natural resource degradation and poverty in East Africa and elsewhere. Given the wide array of circumstances in the East African highlands, the situations studied are representative of a much broader set of circumstances. We hope that this study will contribute to productive policy change to achieve more sustainable and poverty-reducing land management in developing countries in general.

Joachim von Braun
Director General, IFPRI

The book is available for download in PDF format as an entire document or by chapter.

Full Book


Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, Foreword, and Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: Key Issues for the Sustainable Development of Smallholder Agriculture in the East African Highlands
Frank Place, John Pender, and Simeon Ehui

Chapter 2: Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses
John Pender, Simeon Ehui, and Frank Place

Chapter 3: Development Pathways in Medium- to High-Potential Kenya: A Meso-Level Analysis of Agricultural Patterns and Determinants
Frank Place, Patti Kristjanson, Steve Staal, Russ Kruska, Tineke deWolff, Robert Zomer, and E. C. Njuguna

Chapter 4: Village Stratification for Policy Analysis: Multiple Development Domains in the Ethiopian Highlands of Tigray
Gideon Kruseman, Ruerd Ruben, and Girmay Tesfay

Chapter 5: Land Management, Crop Production, and Household Income in the Highlands of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia: An Econometric Analysis
John Pender and Berhanu Gebremedhin

Chapter 6: Policies for Livestock Development in the Ethiopian Highlands
Samuel Benin, Simeon Ehui, and John Pender

Chapter 7: Strategies to Increase Agricultural Productivity and Reduce Land Degradation in Uganda: An Econometric Analysis
John Pender, Ephraim Nkonya, Pamela Jagger, Dick Sserunkuuma, and Henry Ssali

Chapter 8: Agricultural Enterprise and Land Management in the Highlands of Kenya
Frank Place, Jemimah Njuki, Festus Murithi, and Fridah Mugo

Chapter 9: Policies and Programs Affecting Land Management Practices, Input Use, and Productivity in the Highlands of Amhara Region, Ethiopia
Samuel Benin

Chapter 10: Community Natural Resource Management in the Highlands of Ethiopia
Berhanu Gebremedhin, John Pender, and Girmay Tesfay

Chapter 11: Influences of Programs and Organizations on the Adoption of Sustainable Land Management Technologies in Uganda
Pamela Jagger and John Pender

Chapter 12: Zero Tillage or Reduced Tillage: The Key to Intensification of the Crop-Livestock System in Ethiopia
Jens B. Aune, Rahel Asrat, Dereje Asefa Teklehaimanot, and Balesh Tulema Bune

Chapter 13: Land Management Options in Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda
Robert Delve and Joshua Ramisch

Chapter 14: Policies for Poverty Reduction, Sustainable Land Management, and Food Security: A Bioeconomic Model with Market Imperfections
Stein Holden, Bekele Shiferaw, and John Pender

Chapter 15: Sustainable Land Management and Technology Adoption in Eastern Uganda
Johannes Woelcke, Thomas Berger, and Soojin Park

Chapter 16: Strategies for Sustainable Land Management in the East African Highlands: Conclusions and Implications
John Pender, Frank Place, and Simeon Ehui




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