Environment and Development Economics

Policy Options

Investing in soils: field bunds and microcatchments in Burkina Faso a

Harounan Kazianga a1 and William A. Masters a1
a1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, 1145 Krannert Building, West Lafayette, IN 47907. Tel: 765 494 4235. Fax: 765 494 9176. Email: wmasters@purdue.edu; www.agecon.purdue.edu/staff/masters


This research uses field-level data from Burkina Faso to ask what determines farmers' investment in two well-known soil and water conservation techniques: field bunds (barriers to soil and water runoff), and microcatchments (small holes in which seeds and fertilizers are placed). Survey data for 1993 and 1994 are used to estimate Tobit functions, compute elasticities of adoption and intensity of use, perform robustness tests and estimate alternative models. Controlling for land and labor abundance and other factors we find that those who have more ownership rights over farmland, and who do more controlled feeding of livestock, tend to invest more in both technologies. The result suggests that responding to land scarcity with clearer property rights over cropland and pasture could help promote investment in soil conservation, and raise the productivity of factors applied to land.

Key Words: crop-livestock intensification; natural resource management; property rights.


a The data used in this study were collected by a project funded by the Canadian Agency for International Development and conducted by the University of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Laval University (Quebec, Canada). The authors thank Taladidia Thiombiano and Frederic Martin for making the data available, and Gerald Shively, Jess Lowenberg-DeBoer, and three referees for very helpful comments.