This study investigates the impacts of rural poverty on farmers' land management decisions, crop production and incomes, based upon analysis of data from the 1999/2000 Uganda National Household Survey. We find that the impacts of rural poverty on land management, crop production and income depend upon the type of poverty (i.e., what asset or access factor is constrained) and the type of land management considered. Ugandan households that are poorer in terms of access to land use labor more intensively and are less likely to use several land management practices and inputs, though among households that do use non-labor inputs, land-poor households use many of these inputs more intensively. As a result, land-poor households obtain higher value of crop production per acre, though they have substantially lower incomes per capita than land rich households. Thus, access to land is a key factor affecting intensity of land management and rural poverty. Households with access to poorer quality land use less labor and most non-labor inputs, and obtain lower crop production and income. To the extent that land quality is declining as a result of soil nutrient depletion and other land degradation problems, these results suggest a downward spiral of land degradation! declining land quality -- lower investment in land management -- further land degradation. Households that are poorer in terms of ownership of physical assets are less apt to adopt most land management practices and non-labor inputs. Households with less livestock obtain lower crop yields, and households with less of other assets obtain lower income. This suggests another negative cycle: low assets -- low investment in land management and low income -- continued land degradation and low assets. Households who are poorer in terms of males' access to education invest less in most inputs and land management technologies, and obtain lower incomes. Households in which females lack education use labor more intensively in agriculture but also obtain lower incomes. These households may be locked into a similar cycle of low education -- low investment in land management and low incomes -- land degradation and continued low assets. Households in communities with lower wage rates use labor more intensively in agriculture, but use several non-labor inputs less intensively, and obtain lower value of crop production and incomes. Thus lack of off-farm opportunities may contribute to keeping poor households in a poverty and land degradation trap. Households without access to extension, market information or credit are less apt to use several modern non-labor inputs, likely resulting in lower crop production. Households with poor access to roads use less organic or inorganic fertilizer, which can contribute to land degradation. Poorer road access is also associated with lower value of crop production per acre in the Eastern and Western regions and lower income in the Central region. Thus lack of access to infrastructure and services also may prevent households from exiting the poverty-land degradation trap, though the impacts may be location specific. Our results suggest that improvement in smallholders' access to land, other assets, education, extension, market information, credit, roads, and off-farm opportunities can help to break the downward cycle of poverty and land degradation, and put farmers on a more sustainable development pathway. Access to land (area and quality), other assets, education and off-farm opportunities appear to be particularly important in addressing poverty directly, while other interventions are likely to have more indirect impacts, as they influence land management, crop choice, and other livelihood decisions. Given the importance of land as the major asset owned by poor rural households in Uganda, investing in land quality maintenance and improvement is a critical need. However, we found low marginal returns to investments in organic or inorganic fertilizer and other land management practices, suggesting that it will be difficult to get farmers to make such investments in the present environment. Improvements in the market environment as well as development of more profitable land management technologies appears essential to address this need.


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