Economic incentives for farmers in the Philippine uplands to adopt hedgerow intercropping
Nelson, RA and Cramb, RA, Economic incentives for farmers in the Philippine uplands to adopt hedgerow intercropping, Journal of Environmental Management, 54, (2) pp. 83-100. ISSN 0301-4797 (1998) [Refereed Article]
Land degradation in the Philippine uplands is severe and widespread. Most upland areas are steep, and intense rainfall on soils disturbed by intensive agriculture can produce high rates of soil loss. This has serious implications for the economic welfare of a growing upland population with few feasible livelihood alternatives. Hedgerow intercropping can greatly reduce soil loss from annual cropping systems and has been considered an appropriate technology for soil conservation research and extension in the Philippine uplands. However, adoption of hedgerow intercropping has been sporadic and transient, rarely continuing once external support has been withdrawn. The objective of this paper is to investigate the economic incentives for farmers in the Philippine uplands to adopt hedgerow intercropping relative to traditional open-field maize farming. Cost-benefit analysis is used to compare the economic viability of hedgerow intercropping, as it has been promoted to upland farmers, with the viability of traditional methods of open-field farming. The APSIM and SCUAF models were used to predict the effect of soil erosion on maize yields from open-field farming and hedgerow intercropping. The results indicate that there have been strong economic incentives for farmers with limited planning horizons to reject hedgerow intercropping because the benefits of sustained yields are not realized rapidly enough to compensate for high establishment costs. Alternative forms of hedgerow intercropping such as natural vegetation and grass strips reduce establishment and maintenance costs and are therefore more economically attractive to farmers than hedgerow intercropping with shrub legumes. The long-term economic viability of hedgerow intercropping depends on the economic setting and the potential for hedgerow intercropping to sustain maize production relative to traditional open-field farming.