Tradeoffs, Complementarities and Synergies between Different Agricultural Technologies: Insights from Maize Farmers in Kenya

by Priscilla Wainaina

Institution: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Year: 2016
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2133026
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-1735-0000-0028-875E-2


Global demand for food and farm commodities continues to grow, while land and other natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), rising population, decreasing per capita arable land, soil degradation and changes in weather patterns are the major challenges affecting productivity and welfare of smallholder farmers. Existing agricultural practices may not be able to meet production needs in the face of these challenges. Sustainable intensification has been proposed as one way of increasing agricultural productivity in a socially and environmentally responsible way. This requires a broad portfolio of technologies, including input-intensive and various natural resource management (NRM) practices. However, while there is consensus that these agricultural technologies play an important role in improving the welfare of smallholder farmers, there are disagreements as to which type of technology is best suited for farmers in SSA. Some support input-intensive technologies while others support NRM technologies. In reality these technologies are not incompatible and there may even be synergies in combining them. We use nationally representative data from maize production systems in Kenya to understand tradeoffs, complementarities and synergies that exist between different input-intensive and NRM technologies. Maize is the most important crop in Kenya, providing much of the daily calorie requirements and is grown by the majority of smallholder farmers in almost all of the country’s agroecological zones. This dissertation comprises three essays. In the first essay, we analyze adoption as well as tradeoffs and complementarities that exist between different types of input-intensive and NRM technologies practiced by smallholder maize farmers in Kenya. There is a lively debate about which type of technology is the most appropriate to foster sustainable development. In the public debate, the two strategies are often perceived as incompatible. Environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in particular consider NRM practices, which are mostly low-external input strategies as the only sustainable form of agriculture, a view that has considerable influence on policymakers and the international donor community. Most existing adoption studies have either looked at input-intensive technologies or at NRM techniques, using different data and methodologies, so that comparisons were not easily possible. We apply a multivariate probit in the analysis since it allows for correlation between the error terms in the adoption of these technologies. This enables us to analyze adoption of different technologies simultaneously. Specifically, we consider seven technologies; improved seeds, chemical fertilizers (input intensive), terracing, soil bunds, zero tillage, crop residue management and use of animal manure. Results indicate that NRM technologies and strategies that build on external inputs are not incompatible. Interesting complementarities exist, which are not yet sufficiently exploited, because many… Advisors/Committee Members: Qaim, Matin (advisor), Brümmer, Bernhard (referee), Wollni, Meike (referee).