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Policies to favour crop intensification and farm income under climatic risk in West Africa. [P-3330-32]

Gérard F., Affholder F., Ricome A., Poeydebat C., Muller B., Sall M., Quirion P.. 2015. In : Our Common Future under Climate Change. International scientific conference Abstract Book 7-10 July 2015. Paris, France. Paris : CFCC15, p. 608-608. Our Common Future under Climate Change, 2015-07-07/2015-07-10, Paris (France).

In West African countries, agricultural production per capita has decreased over the past half century. With continued population growth and the diminishing availability of marginal arable land, pressure on land is rapidly increasing and there is now a common view that crop yield must be increased in this region, especially as there is a wide gap between actual and potential yields. Although there are several factors which may explain this yield gap, the fact that agricultural production takes place in resource-constrained farm households exposed to risk is widely recognized as being important. Indeed, risk discourages the adoption of high-risk, high-return agricultural technologies, which in turn impedes the improvement of yields. In order to assess how climatic risk constrains intensification strategy in West Africa, we built and calibrated a bioeconomic farm simulation model predicting the choice to intensify crops or livestock as depending on the availability of key policies in the economic environment of farms, for typical cases in the groundnut basin of Senegal. These cases include two regions contrasted in terms of rainfall (Sine and Saloum) and in each region two typical farms, representing poor and less poor farmers. The model features uncertainty in weather (hence yields) and crop prices, farmer's risk aversion, nine cropping systems representing millet, maize and groundnut with various intensification levels, and the main interactions between crop and livestock: draught animal power, the feeding of animals with suitable crop products (groundnut haulms, cereal straw) and the production of farm manure. Farmers are constraint by land, labour, cash and credit availability. 180 households were surveyed to build the socio-demographic and economic dataset used by the model, and agronomic data were collected from 206 fields. These key policies analysed are (i) weather index insurances against drought impact on crop yields, either subsidised or not, (ii) subsidies to short term credit for purchasing farm inputs, (iii) subsidies to fertilizer, and (iv) direct payments to farmers. In our simulations, under the current climate and prices of agricultural products and inputs, all these policies appear favourable to the increase of farmers' expected utility for typical farms representing the vast majority of farms in the groundnut basin. Apart for insurance, all of them appear also favourable to intensification of coupled crop and livestock activities for those typical farms. Insurance appears favourable to this intensification strategy only for farms located in the northern part of the region studied, where climatic risk is higher. Among the scenario tested, for most typical farms, combining unsubsidized insurance with subsidized credit appeared as the best use of a given amount of public funds in support of crop intensification: subsidized credit allows the farmers to buy costly inputs while insurance reduces the risk that a drought prevents them from reimbursing the credit. Direct payments also rank high in this respect, because they efficiently mitigate the cash constraint. The amount of subsidies required to obtain a given increase of the value of farm production varies across farm types and subzones in the region, but is relatively reasonable. These results suggest that crop intensification is currently relatively close to becoming a relevant option for farmers and that public policies may favour it by improving the economic environment of farms. (Texte intégral)...

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