Economic framework for integrating environmental stewardship into food security strategies in low-income countries: case of agroforestry in southern African region
One of the greatest challenges in many Sub-Saharan Africa countries especially where seasonal food deficits occur frequently, is how best to achieve a balance between the goals of food security and agricultural production on the one hand, and the concerns for the conservation of environmental quality and natural resources capital on the other. A number of agricultural production technologies (based on natural resource management principles) exist that offer opportunities for achieving the two seemingly divergent goals because they have the characteristics to produce joint multiple outputs, i.e, they produce food and provide environmental services. However, farmer adoption of these technologies has generally been limited. Drawing from natural resource economics, this study presents a conceptual framework that provide environmental-economic logic for establishing incentives that internalize the environmental services produced by multiple-outputs land use technologies. Using a land use practice based on agroforestry principles (that is, “improved tree fallows”) as a case study, this paper synthesizes studies carried out in southern Africa region for over a decade. It then discusses how the potential impacts of the technological advances made in research and development are affected by policy and institutional constraints, among other challenges. With particular emphasis on the socio-economic context in southern Africa, the paper identifies options for addressing these institutional and policy constraints in order to facilitate adoption of multi-output land use practices by farmers and unlock their potential to meet food production goals for individual households and environmental services for the wider society.
Keywords: Adoption, Agri-Environmental quality, Environmental services, Natural resource economics, Payment for environmental services, Science-policy linkages