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Does Conservation Agriculture Change Labour Requirements? Evidence of Sustainable Intensification in Sub‐Saharan Africa

Guillermo Montt and Trang Luu

Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2020, vol. 71, issue 2, 556-580

Abstract: Population growth, increasing wealth and changing diets require agriculture in Sub‐Saharan Africa to intensify to meet future food demand and ensure food security in the region. Conservation agriculture can increase yields in the long run and reduce the negative environmental impacts of intensive farming. In changing the mix of resources used and how they are managed, the adoption of conservation agriculture can have a direct impact on farm labour. We study the relationship between conservation agriculture and labour input requirements as observed in five Sub‐Saharan African countries. We focus on the amount of work required and the source of the work employed (household or hired, by gender, by children and by production stage). We apply multinomial endogenous switching regression models on a panel of household and farm data from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. We find that conservation agriculture increases farms’ labour input requirements. Higher demand is driven by more work during the harvesting and threshing stages. Increases in labour requirements are usually met by household labour, not paid work. The workload change is also higher for women than for men, and, in certain cases, is met by children.

Date: 2020
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