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Land degradation and sustainability of agricultural growth: some economic concepts and evidence from selected developing countries

Land degradation and sustainability of agricultural growth: some economic concepts and evidence from selected developing countries

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 46(1-4): 69-79

In many developing countries, a large proportion of the population resides and works in rural areas. Agriculture is the dominant sector in rural areas and has the greatest concentration of poverty: landless workers, small tenant farmers, and small farm owners. Thus, any development strategy that is directed towards increasing employment and alleviating a country's hunger must concentrate on sustainable agricultural growth. Historically, economic development, in most countries, has been based on exploitation of natural resources, particularly land resources-in large pan because these resources have been undervalued by private markets and political systems. Soil erosion and land degradation have been serious worldwide. Due to reasons such as high population pressure on land, and limited fossil energy supplies, land degradation is more serious in the developing world. Empirical studies show that soil erosion and degradation of agricultural land not only decrease land productivity but that they can also result in major downstream or off-site damage (e.g. reduction of hydroelectric production) which may be several times that of on-site damage. An earlier analysis identified the factors that determine the agricultural production growth rate in 28 developing countries. This study involved statistical estimation of an aggregate agricultural growth function based on cross-country data. The overall results showed that price distortions in the economy and land degradation had statistically significant negative impacts while the change in arable and permanent land was positively related to the growth of agricultural production and food production in 28 developing countries from 1971 to 1980. These results emphasize the importance of 'getting prices right' and implementation of sustainable land and water management practices if future growth in food and agricultural output is to be realized and sustained in developing countries.

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Accession: 002421457

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DOI: 10.1016/0167-8809(93)90014-g

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