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Economic Incentives, Society and Land Degradation: The Case of Intensive Land-Use Practices in Lampung Province, Indonesia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Arifin, Bustanul
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1479
Sector: Agriculture
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
land tenure and use
land degradation
environmental policy
Abstract: "This research examines economic incentives for upland farmers to allow intensive land-use practices that could lead to land degradation and to invest in land conservation measures as a means to control land degradation and improve agricultural productivity in Lampung Province, Indonesia. The study synthesizes Neo- Malthusian and Neo-Boserupian models of land degradation where the role of population pressure on land degradation can be direct; but it can also be indirect, manifested through the effects of intensive land-use practices. A micro-econometric framework based on the concept of cost-benefit is used to explain the farmers decision to adopt a soil conservation technology as land improvement measure. The underlying theoretical basis for the approach is that a net positive benefit results in a higher utility level to the farmer. Hence, a farmer decides to adopt a soil conservation technology if the net benefit is positive, which implies a higher level of utility. "Two periods of field survey and grounded interview with farmers have been conducted in August-September of 1997 and in February-March of 1999. A total of 74 sample respondents were included in the survey, of which 28 were from Pekurun and 46 were from Subik, all in the subdistrict of Abung Barat, the district of North Lampung. Land-use patterns in the village of Pekurun in the subdistrict are dominated by upland crops such as secondary foodcrops: upland rice, corn, and some beans; and treecrops such as pepper and coffee. In the village of Subik, land use patterns were dominated by lowland rice and upland rice and secondary foodcrops in the sloping land, adjacent to the area of conservation forest. The degree of intensive land-use practices in the study area are interlinked with resource endowments and social economic endowments. Subik have relatively better access to markets and, hence, are able to easily supply the market demand for these crops than those in Pekurun. Farms in some sites in Subik have relatively steeper slope than farms in Pekurun. "The results suggest that land-use patterns based on intensive practices of modern inputs and labor allocation are prone to mismanagement that leads to land degradation. However, where governments have neglected to intensify agricultural production through the use of modern technology, the continuing pressures of population growth has worsened poverty and unemployment, which might be accelerated during the current crisis. This has driven rural people to expand cultivation into less favored, often environmentally fragile areas, such as conservation forests and steeply sloping upland, where land productivity is declining. The policy strategies should be directed towards reducing poverty and promoting economic diversification in rural areas, which then could relieve livelihood demands on the natural resource-base. "In addition, microeconometric estimates show that certain socioeconomic variables significantly affect the likelihood and the extent of adoption of a soil conservation technology in the uplands. For example, biophysical factors like slope and perception of the incidence of soil erosion are positive influences on the likelihood and extent of adoption. Hence, targeting conservation programs to areas that are highly eroded and/or have high potential of degradation would be an effective strategy. In addition, there is merit in increasing the farmers awareness of soil erosion and its consequences, as well as the provision of information on the most effective soil conservation practices for farms with certain topographic and slope characteristics."

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