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Land Degradation in Sub-saharan Africa

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Land degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa remains a substantial problem in aggravating poverty, by reducing the availability of environmental goods and services to poor rural households and by increasing the labor time needed to seek for such goods. Inline of this, highlighted that forest degradation spurs rural poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rural households in developing countries heavily rely on environmental products such as fuelwood, fodder, and water to meet their daily animal water and feed requirements. Increasing scarcity of grazing, water for an animal can be a significant burden to poor households, as grazing and water are a key factor in livestock production.

In Ethiopia, livestock contribution accounts for 40%, excluding the values of draft power, manure, and transport service. Ethiopia is a home of 35 million TLU, and on average, one TLU requires about 25 liters of water per day. Despite its large population size, the contribution is said to be deteriorating. Livestock production in the country depends on the quantity of grazing land and water. In many studies of Africa, most farmers ranked feed shortage and water scarcity as the most leading constraints for animal rearing. A recent survey in rural Ethiopia and South Africa found that feed and water shortage, labor scarcity and lack of capital were major constraints limiting livestock production. The study by revealed that shortage of water and feed are common in the dry season as compared to the wet season. The sector is a key player in increasing water use and water depletion. Both human and livestock suffer from water shortage.

Most of the year, animals have to walk long distances in search of water. A finding with regard to this concluded that the most important problems of livestock production were feed shortage (100%) and water shortage (27%) in Ethiopia so that livestock suffers from a seasonal shortage of grazing land and water. The availability of crop residues and natural pasture are gradually declining as a result of crop expansion, settlement and land degradation. In the highlands, feed and water deficits start in December–January, when the natural pastures are at their lowest quantity and the supply of stored crop residues is beginning to diminish.

The report for reported that out of the 16 million ha agricultural land, 75 % is used for crops while grazing land accounts for 9%. In line to this, revealed that the natural grazing in Tigrai is diminishing over time due to chronic degradation and shrinking the grazing land sizes. Based on, the estimated crop residues from cultivated land contributes only about 45% of the animal feed demand in the region. It is stated that 73% of the feed is provided from natural grazing, 14% from crop residues, and the remaining 13% from other feed sources.

The critical shortage of water and feed for an animal has negative implications for agricultural production. One possible consequence is the reallocation of labor time from agriculture activities to searching and collecting these scarce resources. Thus, reductions in agricultural output stemming from less labor input are very likely to have detrimental welfare effect. Increasing resource scarcity has economic implications for poor rural households. The idea that the potential effect of scarce resources is declining agricultural output as a result of reallocating inputs away from agriculture has been initially pioneered by. The literature suggests that as a result of increasing resource scarcity such as water, grazing land and feed, many households increase the time they spend on collecting these resources. It is further suggested that feed and water scarcity result in lower crop productivity that further diminishes households’ food supply and incomes by increasing work burden of all household members.

Rural households face considerable tradeoffs in the allocation of time between crop production and searching or collecting resources for energy use and feeding animal. Households that rely on agricultural outputs as a source of food and those that spend considerable time searching or collecting scarce resources may have less time to devote to food production. The pioneer study by revealed that a reallocation of time away from farm work occurs as environmental goods become scarcer in Nepal. He found that households that have higher costs of collecting environmental goods devote less time to farm activities and thus reductions in agricultural output. Likewise, found that the scarcity of forest resource had a negative effect on agriculture in Nepal. The degree to which labor allocated to collecting scarce resources takes labor away from agricultural production was also directly examined by in Ethiopia and show that the shadow price of fuelwood, has a negative and significant impact on time spent on agriculture; however, scarcity of water for humans has no effect on time spent on agriculture.

Time spent in farming declines with a higher degree of fuelwood scarcity. The findings of in Kenya shows that feed scarcity increases livestock traveling distances in search of feed and water, resulting in lower livestock and crop output by increasing household’ time for collection. Likewise, explained the effect of forest scarcity on the livelihood of rural people in Nepal and found negative effects on agriculture. An earlier study of found that more time spent on scarce fuelwood was associated with negative welfare in Malawi. Another related study by in Ethiopia indicated that rural households respond positively to fuelwood shortages by increasing their labor input. It is also shown that fuelwood scarcity has a negative and significant impact on time spent on agriculture. The only directly slightly related to our study is of, whose result indicated that farming productivity decreases as time spent collecting dung increases in rural Ethiopia.

They concluded that agricultural productivity decreases with increasing time spent on collecting animal dung but increases with time spent on collecting crop residue. From the above brief review of related works, I noted that the evidence on the effect of natural resource scarcity on agricultural output is, unfortunately, sparse. Evidence from Africa is even scarcer in the existing studies. The existing studies focus on the effect of these resource on labor allocation. Hence, this study will have a noble contribution to the sparse empirical evidence from sub-Saharan Africa by exclusively analyzing the economic effect of these scarce resources on household crop farm labor and crop production.

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Land Degradation In Sub-Saharan Africa. (2020, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 28, 2020, from
“Land Degradation In Sub-Saharan Africa.” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2020,
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