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The linkage between investments in extension and farmers' adoption of soil and water conservation practices in southern Honduras
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Soil erosion from cultivated steeplands is a major environmental problem in Central America. Considerable funding has been and is being invested in the implementation of soil conservation projects to address the on-farm and off-farm consequences of soil erosion and degradation. To assist with the evaluation and design of on-going and new projects, the adoption rates of mulch, vetiver grass live barriers (VGLB), and rock-walls (RW) were estimated for two extension offices of the Land Use and Productivity Enhancement Project (LUPE) in southern Honduras. The extension costs relative to the adoption of these soil and water conservation pralines (SWCPs) and to the amount of soil saved were estimated from 1990 to 1997. In addition, one hundred sixty three farmers were interviewed (June 1998) to identify factors explaining whether and why farmers install soil conservation pralines. Farmers readily adopted mulch but were reluctant to implement more intensive practices such as VGLB and RW. Adoption rates of SWCPs increased with increased investment in extension effort. The extension cost to achieve the adoption of SWCPs increased as their implementation first increased and as the perceived benefits to the farmer decreased. The extension cost to achieve the adoption of mulch was the lowest (US$ 633/ha), and increased by US$ 2,458/ha to achieve the adoption of VGLB and by US$ 13,7871a to achieve the adoption of RW. The cost of saving soil with mulch was lower (US$ 3.8/ton) than with VGLB (US$ 44.8/ton) and RW (US$ 58.3/ton). Mulch alone is not sustainable soil conservation option since erosion rates under mulch are still unacceptably high. The greater cost of VGLB or RW reflects the expenditure needed to conserve soil at a rate that will allow long-term production on the site. On-farm and off-farm benefits from saving soil can onset the extension cost to achieve the adoption of SWCPs. The most important barrier to implement VGLB and RW was their economic cost. The adoption of RW or VGLB was 95% less likely to occur if farmers did not perceive an erosion problem and increased by 0.94% for every kilogram of increased in production associated with implementing the SWCPs.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 138-144).
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Santos Chavez, Hector Ricardo (1999). The linkage between investments in extension and farmers' adoption of soil and water conservation practices in southern Honduras. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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