Land conservation in Kenya: The role of property rights

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-Mariara, Jane Kabubo
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African Economic Research consortium
Land conservation technologies are known to play an important role in improving farm incomes. For this reason substantial investments have been made in research to improve agricultural technologies in various parts of the world, from the development of new crop varieties to new practices of land management. The present study responds to the paucity of literature on determinants of land conservation practices in Kenya. The study builds on the few existing studies in this area and explores the impact of land rights and assets among other factors on adoption of soil conservation practices. The study further tests for Boserup’s hypothesis and the evolutionary theory of land rights using both descriptive and econometric procedures. Primary data from households in a semi-arid district in Kenya are used to achieve the study objectives. Random effects probits are used to derive the parametric estimates of our models. The findings are that property right regimes and assets affect both the decision to conserve land and the type of conservation practices used by farmers. The results further suggest a positive correlation between land tenure security and population density, thus supporting Boserup’s hypothesis as well as the evolutionary land rights theory. We also find that the poor are less likely to adopt land conservation practices than the non-poor. Education, available biomass, market development and location of the farm are also found to be important determinants of adoption. These findings call for pursuit of both short-term and long-term policy measures that offer incentives for land conservation through government initiatives and involvement of local communities. The recommended policy measures include enhanced security of tenure, targeted programmes for poverty alleviation, improved access to education, and development of social and physical infrastructure.