Potential effect of incentives for scaling up adoption of soil and water conservation practices in the Sio-Malaba-Malakisi river basin of Uganda and Kenya
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The high rate of land degradation and the resulting challenges of widespread decline in soil fertility and agricultural productivity are a current pertinent concern globally. Adoption rates of soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs) which are advanced as a possible remedy to declining soil quality are still low, especially in developing countries. There is current debate on whether adoption rates of soil and water conservation practices can be increased through giving incentives to farming households. Some schools of thought argue that sustainable adoption cannot be driven by apparent benefits alone, without additional incentive. This study was done in the Sio-Malaba Malakisi River Basin (SMMRB) located in the Kenya-Uganda border region. The objective of the study was to assess the effect of incentives aimed at increasing adoption, on the adoption rates of soil and water conservation practices, by subsistence households. The study further assesses the effect of adoption of soil and water conservation practices on households’ returns to agricultural production and poverty levels. Data were collected from 507 randomly selected households in five districts: Busia, Tororo and Namisindwa in Uganda, and Busia and Bungoma in Kenya. The Trade-off Analysis for Multi-Dimensional Impact Assessment (TOA-MD) model was used to analyze the data. Results indicate adoption rates of soil and water conservation practices ranging between 56 - 80 percent, and with a potential of going up to about 90 percent, when adoption incentives are introduced. The results point to positive benefits to adopting households, in terms of increased returns to agricultural production and reduction in poverty rates. The study recommends that incentives that can aid access to capital for adoption be made available to farmers. For the sustainability of the incentive delivery process, the self-sufficient ability of the farmers must be strengthened such that they are able to carry on with these soil and water conservation practices even when programs which give adoption incentives have been withdrawn by the various implementing partners.