Road improvement enhances smallholder productivity and reduces forest encroachment in Ghana

Acheampong, Emmanuel Opoku, Sayer, Jeffrey, and MacGregor, Colin J. (2018) Road improvement enhances smallholder productivity and reduces forest encroachment in Ghana. Environmental Science & Policy, 85. pp. 64-71.

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Agriculture employs about 70% of the active labour force, yet contributes only 30% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Sub-Saharan Africa. About 60% of African farmers cultivate mainly for household consumption on 2–2.5 ha of land and depend upon roads to access local and regional markets. Forest encroachment by smallholder farmers is a major cause of deforestation in Africa. We used regression analysis to determine the degree to which road improvement influenced farm size, forest encroachment and market participation in rural Ghana. We obtained data on household size and characteristics and farm plot size from 300 farmers in 10 communities. Farms accessible by improved roads had stable or slightly declining areas under cultivation. Improved roads led to better market integration, more use of farm inputs and higher yields. Farmers in areas with unpaved roads used fewer inputs, had less market penetration and were forced to encroach on forests for additional farmland to increase production. Our evidence suggests that linking rural people more efficiently to markets by improving roads will encourage commercial farming and reduce farm expansion into forests. Improved agriculture alone will not limit forest encroachment. Enforcement of forest protection regulations will also be needed to restrict encroachment.

Item ID: 53065
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-6416
Keywords: improved roads, farm size, forest encroachment, subsistence farming, rural Ghana
Funders: Rufford Foundation (RF), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: RF 16890-1
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2018 23:45
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 50%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300208 Farm management, rural management and agribusiness @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960906 Forest and Woodlands Land Management @ 50%
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