Livelihoods Effects of Zero Tillage among Small and Medium Holder Farmers in the Developing World
The biophysical benefits of conservation agriculture (CA) are well documented in the literature. However, the literature on the economic benefits of CA, especially in the context of small and medium-scale farmers is scanty. Using a case study of 621 Syrian wheat farmers and applying the propensity score matching and endogenous switching regression methods, this paper provides empirical evidence on the impacts of conservation tillage (CT) on farm income and wheat consumption. Model results show that after controlling for all confounding factors, adoption of the CT technology leads to US$187/ha (34%) increase in net crop income and 26.4 kg (52%) gain in per capita wheat consumption per year (adult equivalent) which represent a meaningful change in the livelihoods of small and medium-scale farmers in Syria. Besides the biophysical and environmental benefits documented elsewhere, our results suggest that CT can also be justified on economic and food security grounds. Therefore, CT can have sizeable impacts in transforming the agricultural sector in the developing world provided that the technology is well promoted and adopted.