Inés Soto Reyes, Jan Barkman, Jose Diaz-Osorio:
Effects of a Rural Poverty Alleviation Project on Production System and Farming Income in a Semiarid ``Secano'' Area


1Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Environmental and Resource Economics, Institute for Agricultural Economics, Germany
2University of Talca, Department of Agricultural Economics, Chile

The study was carried out in the Secano Coastal, a coast dry land of Central Chile (Curepto, VII Region) in October and November 2003. It used an ex-post fact investigation design with a historic control group (reflexive comparison). The target population was small farmers, who participated in the poverty alleviation project Prodecop-Secano (carried out 1997 to 2003 in the micro-region Curepto). The sample consists of 90 small farmers, selected from 11 localities (classified as Low, Middle and High altitude locations). The data were sampled by face-to-face interviews.

Mainly, the study investigates if the on-farm income of participating households increased by the comparison of gross margins. The study also examined participation effects on the production system of the farmers. As well, the adoption of more sustainable resource conserving agricultural practices in the face of drought and erosion risks which constituted an additional aim of Prodecop-Secano. We explored risk perception and coping strategies with Lickert-type attitude scales and open questions.

Land availability and land tenure did not change since the start of the project. The farm capital increased, mainly because the facilities improved (durable assets). The production system showed some changes as the farmers introduced more labour intensive crops, such as fruit trees and vegetables. Also, some small forest plantations were added. There was no significant improvement on-farm income of the farmers (at the total sample) between before and after the project intervention. As well, there was no unanimous trend in on-farm income among areas. In the Low land-area income decreased while in Middle and High land-area it increased. The variability of on-farm income also increased strongly. The farmers fear environmental risks-particularly severe droughts- more strongly than economic risks. The adoption of resource conserving agricultural practices-- including terraces, better irrigation techniques-- was highly variable and it found high percentage of farmers that stop the use of these practices.

Keywords: Adoption, dry land, gross margin, income, poverty, risk


Contact Address: Inés Soto Reyes, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Environmental and Resource Economics, Institute for Agricultural EconomicsGöttingen, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004