Institut für Ernährungswirtschaft und Verbrauchslehre

Climate Change, Farm Productivity and Nutritional Status of Farm Households in Northern Nigeria

At the core of the ongoing debate on the adverse effects of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there is the issue of food security. Food availability (and to some extent food access) is principally determined by agricultural productivity for most farming households. Agriculture is the mainstay of many SSA countries and the predominant form of economic activity in the rural areas where majority of the poor live. This region of the world is deemed most vulnerable to climate change, with poverty rates reaching as high as more than 40 percent of the entire population. In this part of Africa, millions of small-scale subsistent farmers cultivate less than one hectare of land, produce food crops in extremely challenging conditions. The production environment is characterized by a joint combination of low land productivity and harsh weather conditions. 

These result in very low yields and food insecurity. With low diversified economies and reliance on rainfed agriculture, SSA’s development prospects have been closely associated with climate. However, a plethora of climate models have recently projected further reduction in agricultural productivity due to climate change by up to 50% by 2050, a scenario that might further severely constrain food availability and access. Ultimately, where the quantity of food is reduced, then so is intake of micronutrients. In addition, agricultural productivity is closely linked to farm profitability and low incomes generally limit access to food and health care, all of which affect nutritional status of farm households.

Therefore, as the debate on global climate change has moved from scientific circles to policy circles with nation-states more serious now than before in exploring a range of response strategies to deal with this complex phenomenon. One of the crucial inputs needed for policy formulation on mitigation and adaptation is information on the potential impacts of climate change on various climate-sensitive sectors. 

The impacts of climate change on agriculture are likely to be regionally distinct and highly heterogeneous spatially, requiring sophisticated understanding of causes and effects and careful design and dissemination of appropriate responses. Given the strategic economic position of Nigeria in the West African sub-region, this study aims to complement the existing literature on climate change by analysing the productive and nutritional implications of adaptation to climate change by traditional farm households in the drought-prone areas of Northern Nigerian. Impact of climate change on agriculture needs considerable attention in Nigeria, as they are closely linked to the food security and poverty status of a majority of the population.

Smallholders and agricultural products in the development of biomass energy: evidence from Sichuan, China

Energy is the most important material basis of the development, and has a dominant impact on the development of the society and economy. Recently, biomass energy becomes an important kind of renewable energy which has drawn more and more attention in the world, and becoming a new industry with huge potential. This industry can not only ease the tense situation of fossil energy supply, optimize energy structure and protect national energy security, but also improve and protect the ecological environment. 

However, since the new millennium, world bio-fuel emergency has raised furious debates on its functions and impacts. Particularly, food crop based bio-fuel development has suffered much due to the recent food crisis generated by worldwide food price hikes. China thus changed its bio-fuel development policies, and banned grain based bio-fuel expansion from 2007. Meanwhile, the government planned to produce bio-ethanol and biodiesel production of 10 and 2 million tons by 2020, respectively, pointed out explicitly that the goal would be achieved through exploring marginal land and cultivating non-grain crops. Thus, because of the intimate relationships between biofuel and agriculture, both of the positive and negative effects of biomass energy development on agriculture in China should be considered carefully, especially to the economic rapid growth and social transition nation. 

Therefore, the main objective of the study aims to analyze the desire and ways of smallholders to cultivate and utilize energy crops, the breadth and depth of impact on agricultural products, to find out in what extent the development of biomass energy benefit to smallholders and agricultural balance, and how to deal with the relationship among famers, resources and economic growth, in order to derive development strategies and suitable policy.

Social capital, land tenure rights, and investment in soil-improving and conservation practices

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in developing countries. It needs for a successful future facing the challenges of population growth, reduction in expansion possibilities and climate change to be productive and sustainable; hence outputs need to increase and at the same time natural resources need to be protected for future use. Yet in the past 40 years low agricultural yields and a slow growth of these have been observed in Africa. The sustainability of agricultural yields requires the maintenance of soil fertility. Soil inherits a resource base which when not replenished in the future risks of giving no return. 

Yet the farmer to invest in long-term practices needs to be endowed with diverse assets acting as preconditions, such as land tenure rights. However, the results for the effect of land tenure rights on investment in Africa are ambiguous and highlight the importance of context playing a role in investment decisions. Decision-making of the farmer is embedded in a social setting and might influence challenges and provide preconditions of action. Sustainable agricultural intensification requires a complex approach, for this capacity building of the farmer is crucial in that he is endowed with necessary knowledge and skills. 

Knowledge about the environment as a precondition of action sometimes does not exist. Search and information costs add to costs of investment. Investment decisions might be subject to collective efforts, indicating the importance of social networks in various terms. Yet the linkages between social networks and land tenure rights have rarely been studied, in addition neither how transaction costs are influenced in turn determining farmer behaviour. 

Therefore the main objective of the current study is to gain insight into assets of the farmer, i.e. social networks and land tenure rights and its interdependencies influencing investment in practices, leading to sustainable intensification of agriculture in order to derive suitable policy implications.


Beginn: 01.09.2009
Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Awudu Abdulai
Bearbeitung: Daniela Lüth , MSc.

Interactive effects of government regulation and farmers' production behavior on agro-products safety in China

In recent years, the issue of agro-products safety in China has become the focus of public attention due to the continual recurrence of agro-products safety scandals. Meanwhile, with an increasing demand for safe agro-products and rising pressure on the export trade barriers, China’s agro-products face significant challenges in responding to the rapidly changing global agri-business environment in order to satisfy the domestic and foreign market demand due to failing to meet rigorous agro-products safety standards.

Numerous studies have documented the issue of agro-products safety from aspects of farmers’ production behavior and government regulation. However, most of them are studied separately rather than as a whole. Some have examined empirically that farmers’ production behaviors have direct influence on agro-products safety due to the abuse or wrong use of agricultural inputs such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers and herbicides, and then put forward corresponding proposals which can promote safe agro-products production. On the other hand, studies examining the impacts of government regulation implementation on agro-products safety have focused on the maximizing public benefits and efficiency of its function. However, there are scarce domestic literatures considering the issue of agro-products from the aspect of government regulation and farmers’ production behavior as a whole.

Although many specific solutions to the issue of agro-products safety have been brought forward, agro-products safety will not be completely controlled if essence to the issue of agro-product safety is not accurately grasped. Strengthening agro-products from production and processing to consumption can effectively control agro-products safety, but it needs government regulation. Therefore, from a new perspective, this research will examine the interactive effects of government regulation and farmers’ production behavior on agro-product safety in China.

Issues Related to Microfinance: Sustainability and Impact Evaluation

Microfinanceis the provision of financial services to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services. More broadly, it is a movement whose object is "a world in which as many poor and near-poor households as possible have permanent access to an appropriate range of high quality financial services, including not just credit but also savingsinsurance, and fund transfers."

By 2015 it is expected that institutional and individual investments in microfinance will rise sharply to around USD 20 bn. Globally it is estimated that over 10,000 MFIs exist in the form of Credit Unions, NGOs, Cooperatives, Government Agencies, Private and Commercial banks and various permutations of these forms. 

MFIs face a double challenge: not only do they have to provide financial services to the poor, but they also have to cover their cost to avoid bankruptcy and consequently MFIs mainly depend on subsidies. The MIX 2006 benchmark data set of 704 MFIs reveals that 41% are not financially sustainable and rely on donor support to keep afloat. Hence a deeper understanding of the true costs associated with subsidization of microfinance to the society, the determinants of subsidies and its impact on the financial and social efficiency of microfinance are required in order to evaluate the role of subsidies in the performance of the MFIs. 

Very few have focused the sustainability and measuring the performance of MFIs. In order to cover this gap this study will contribute to scarce empirical literature.   


Laufzeit: 01.07.2011
Projektleitung: Prof. Dr. Awudu Abdulai
Bearbeitung: Sohail Makhdum, MSc.