event 12 nov. 2020

Publication // Assessing agroforestry practices and soil and water conservation for climate change adaptation in Kenya: A cost-benefit analysis

This FAO and UNDP supported publication was developed by Paul Maina Guthiga, with contributions from Giacomo Branca, Zipora Otieno, Enrico Mazzoli, and Theresa Wong. The report is a cost-benefit analysis study to examine the financial and economic worthiness of agriculture adaptation measures as part of Kenya's Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans Programme (NAP-Ag), which addresses the country’s vulnerability and resilience to climate change.

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  • Researchers used cost-benefit analysis to analyse the financial and economic worthiness of agriculture adaptation measures (soil and water conservation and agroforestry) using primary data from a survey of 642 households spread across five counties in Kenya.
  • The results show that the assessed climate change adaptation options are economically worthwhile as they generate positive on-farm net benefits resulting from reduced soil erosion, better water retention, higher crop yields and ultimately higher incomes. Positive externalities include public benefits such as mitigation of carbon emissions and reduced siltation of dams.
  • The costs of establishing terracing and grass strips are considerably high for most farmers and therefore a major barrier to adoption. Labour cost is a major constraint for promoting onfarm adoption. One possible solution is the deployment of National Youth Service (NYS) staff to undertake terracing as part of their public service.
  • The demonstrated profitability of these adaptation options is not enough to guarantee adoption. Governments at the national and county level can increase adoption of economically worthwhile measures by addressing the drivers for adoption.
  • Potential areas of government support for adoption of these agricultural technologies include enhancing access to agricultural extension. Government agencies can support extension services to increase awareness amongst farmers on climate change, and educate farmers regarding the technical aspects of the implementation of proposed adaptation practices.
  • Improvements to land tenure security, including land titling and prompt resolution of land disputes, ensure that farmers are incentivised to invest in longer term, more expensive SWC and forestry measures. Given that gender is also a driver of the adoption of adaptation actions, gender should be mainstreamed into adaptation programmes. The unique challenges faced by female and male farmers must be addressed in all stages of project design.
  • Increasing uptake of analysed adaptation practices also requires continued agricultural productivity. Investing in farmers’ access to productive inputs is also crucial. This can be accomplished by creating a conducive macro-economic environment for the private sector and improving targeting of farmers in need.

Conclusions and Discussion

Analytical results show that the climate change adaptation measures analysed are financially and economically profitable. However, profitability varies by the agro-potential of the area: adaptation options are most profitable in high potential areas, even if the opportunity cost may be highest in those areas. Results are stable and do not vary when discount rates and yield changes change.

The study concludes that greater investments in rural and agricultural development are needed enable households to make strategic, long-term decisions that positively affect their future well-being. Some recommendations for increasing adoption include:

  • Creating awareness and enhancing access to agricultural extension. Awareness campaigns aimed at increasing knowledge of climate change among farmers is an important precursor to investment in adaptation measures. Farmers must be made aware of the long-term impacts of climate change and the need to make necessary adaptations to deal with these impacts.
  • Establishing land tenure security and addressing drivers of adoption. SWC and agroforestry measures are costly and their benefits can only be appropriated in the medium- and long-term. Therefore, farmers need secure tenure on their land to be able to invest in these measures. The government must ensure that land tenure security is conferred to owners and subsequently protected. In Kenya, land title registration and quick resolution of existing land disputes would enhance adoption of adaptation measures. To address the unique challenges faced by female farmers when adopting these measures, national and county governments should make explicit efforts to mainstream gender into their extension service work and climate change adaptation programmes at all levels, including project design, budgeting, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Increasing productive inputs and finance. Investment into agricultural production is premised on achieving a profitable return. Additional investments in climate adaptation measures can only be justified by increased productivity and higher profits. To achieve increased productivity, farmers must have access to modern productive inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, machinery and such other productive inputs.
  • The government can use other policy levers to encourage adoption. The government can enhance access to credit and inputs by creating a conducive macro-economic and business environment for the private sector to operate. For expensive inputs, the government has been providing subsidies (e.g. fertilizer subsidy) but the targeting has proven inefficient. These subsidies need to better target poor farmers who are unable to purchase fertilizers at market prices. As
    noted in the analytical results, the economic attractiveness of adaptation strategies depends on the agricultural productivity of the farming enterprise.


November 2020




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