Sustainable Agriculture and Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon.

TitleSustainable Agriculture and Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon.
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsYanggen D
Academic DepartmentAgricultural Economics
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
UniversityMichigan State University.
CityEast Lansing MI, USA
KeywordsAgriculture, crops, Deforestation, Farmers, forests
AbstractThis thesis uses econometric modeling based on a profit function approach to analyze the relationship between agriculture and deforestation. There are two levels to this analysis. The first level analyzes the relationship between agricultural production determinants (prices and fixed factors) and farmers' choices concerning production technologies and agricultural outputs. These econometric models use the methods of ordinary least squares and seemingly unrelated regression equations. The second level analyzes how these input and output decisions affect deforestation. These models are in general recursive in nature but use a two stage least squares approach to correct for simultaneity when detected by the Hausman specification test. This thesis found that in an environment where land is abundant relative to labor, farmer adoption of technologies that enhance land productivity is dependent upon whether or not these technologies increase returns to labor. The design and promotion of improved technologies should therefore focus on combining enhanced land productivity with increasing returns to labor. However, if increased returns to labor are primarily a result of decreasing per hectare labor requirements, then freed up labor is likely to increase deforestation. It is therefore necessary to find production practices that "absorb" labor away from deforestation by increasing labor requirements per hectare while at the same time increasing returns to labor. This thesis also found that the use of capital inputs that increase land productivity diminishes farmer clearing of primary forest. The difficulty is that in most cases of abundant land and scarce capital it is more economical for farmers to use extensive slash- and-bum practices than to adopt these inputs. Research should therefore give priority to using economic analysis to identify crop and capital input combinations that are both affordable and profitable for farmers. In addition, capital in the form of credit was found to have a significant impact (both positive and negative) on forest clearing. Credit should therefore be tied to production practices that reduce deforestation. This research also found that agricultural production practices can have different impacts on different types of deforestation (total, primary and secondary forest clearing). It is therefore critical for research to take a disaggregated approach to analyzing the impacts of agricultural on deforestation. A final finding of this research is a clear evolutionary trend in land use patterns. Farmers start out clearing primary forest for annual crop production at the forest margins. In older settlement areas farmers progressively reduce annual crop production and clear degraded land in secondary forest areas for ranching.