Modeling Feedback between Economic and Biophysical Systems in Smallholder Agriculture in Kenya: The Crops, Livestock and Soils in Smallholder Economic Systems (CLASSES) Model

30 Pages Posted: 19 May 2011

See all articles by Emma C. Stephens

Emma C. Stephens

Claremont Colleges - Pitzer College

Christopher B. Barrett

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Douglas R. Brown

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Johannes Lehmann

Cornell University

David Mbugua

World Argoforestry Centre (ICRAF); Cornell University

Solomon Ngoze

Cornell University

Charles Nicholson

Adjunct Associate Professor; Clinical Associate Professor

David Parsons

University of Tasmania

Alice Pell

Cornell University

Susan Riha

Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute

Date Written: October 1, 2008

Abstract

We investigate natural resource-based poverty traps using a system dynamics model of smallholder farms in highland Kenya. System dynamics modeling is well-suited to examining the complex interactions and feedback between farm-household economic decision making and long-term soil dynamics which may be at the source of persistent poverty among smallholders in this region. We examine the effects of changing initial endowments of land, labour and stocks of on-farm soil organic matter on the long-term welfare of these households. We find that larger farms are better able to cope with both labour shocks and deteriorating natural capital than smaller farms, with smaller farms remaining poor and unable to invest into more diversified agricultural activities, like livestock. This suggests locally increasing returns to various combinations of economic and biophysical assets. Information obtained through such simulation model experiments may lead to better targeting of poverty alleviation programs as well as suggest a broader array of strategies that play off of the complex interactions between economic and biophysical assets. The flexibility to examine these different leverage points is partially provided by our use of system dynamics, rather than other modeling techniques, to develop a descriptive rather than prescriptive model of farm behaviour.

Suggested Citation

Stephens, Emma C. and Barrett, Christopher B. and Brown, Douglas R. and Lehmann, Johannes and Mbugua, David and Ngoze, Solomon and Nicholson, Charles F. and Parsons, David and Pell, Alice and Riha, Susan, Modeling Feedback between Economic and Biophysical Systems in Smallholder Agriculture in Kenya: The Crops, Livestock and Soils in Smallholder Economic Systems (CLASSES) Model (October 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1845520 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1845520

Emma C. Stephens

Claremont Colleges - Pitzer College ( email )

1050 North Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

Christopher B. Barrett (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management ( email )

315 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7801
United States
607-255-4489 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://aem.cornell.edu/faculty_sites/cbb2/

Douglas R. Brown

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Johannes Lehmann

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

David Mbugua

World Argoforestry Centre (ICRAF) ( email )

United Nations Avenue, Gigiri
P.O. Box 30677-00100 GPO
Nairobi
Kenya

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Solomon Ngoze

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Charles F. Nicholson

Adjunct Associate Professor ( email )

333 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7801
United States

Clinical Associate Professor ( email )

Dept. of Supply Chain & Information Systems
University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States
814-863-3229 (Phone)
814-863-7067 (Fax)

David Parsons

University of Tasmania ( email )

French Street
Sandy Bay
Tasmania, 7250
Australia

Alice Pell

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Susan Riha

Cornell University - New York State Water Resources Institute ( email )

1023 Bradfield Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-1901
United States

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