Do Farmers’ Asset Values Correlate with Land Quality?

  •  Ben Sonneveld    
  •  Sally Bunning    
  •  Riccardo Biancalani    
  •  D. Ndiaye    
  •  Freddy Nachtergaele    


This paper investigates if farmers’ asset values have a predictive power to asses land quality. A rich sustainable livelihood literature describes small farmers’ biophysical and socio-economic environment through asset values, which closely adheres to the required information for an integrated quality appraisal of the natural resource base. For our analysis we use an in-depth survey held among 50 famers’ households in three rural areas of Senegal. Farmers gave scores for their livelihood assets (human, physical, natural, financial and social) and judgments on the state and trend of the quality of their natural resource base (crop land, rangeland, forest and water resources). As our observational data are dominated by unobserved heterogeneity, we refrain from causal statistical analysis and seek associative patterns between asset values and state and trend of natural resource quality using data visualization techniques and descriptive statistics. We compare categorical data on state and trend of land qualities with asset value classes in a frequency distributions evaluation (Chi-square) and with continuous asset value scores in an analysis of variance (ANOVA). For state of forest we found consistent but counterintuitive differences for various asset values with higher asset values for ‘degraded’ classes and lower values for ‘good’ quality of the forests. There is some evidence that trend of forest quality can be derived from asset value scores which were in agreement with our premise of lower scores for low quality and higher scores for better quality. Yet, overall we have to conclude that asset values do not correlate straightforward and unequivocally with state and trend of natural resource quality. 

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