Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the investment pattern, adoption behaviour, attitude of farmers towards conservation compliance programmes and the extent of participation of farmers in soil conservation projects in the Western Ghats of India. Design/methodology/approach – For the present study, multistage purposive sampling was followed. The sample respondents were identified for the survey in all the five categories of watersheds (very high, high, medium, low and very low priority watersheds) in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu at the rate of 50 farm respondents in each category. Since the investment among the five categories of watersheds did not show any significant differences, the sample farmers were post stratified as marginal, small, medium and large farmers based on farm size for further analysis. Findings – The investment analysis showed a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1.03 for staggered trenches for tea to 1.40 for bench terrace for carrot. For annual crops, the BCR for bench terrace varied from 1.03 for cabbage to 1.32 for carrot. Among the soil conservation technologies, in tea plantation, stone wall had the highest net present value (NPV) of Rs. 74,335. Staggered trench had the lower NPV Rs. 19,237 among all conservation structures. The results of the contingent valuation showed that cropped area, farm size, on-farm income positively and significantly influenced the willingness to pay (WTP) towards soil conservation. Family size and age of the farmer negatively influenced the WTP of the respondents significantly. The multinomial logit model indicated that staggered trench had direct impact on productivity. In tea plantation, staggered trench adoption was influenced by area under plantation crops, farm size, educational level and land slope. The participation index was very low (<30), indicating the poor participation of farmers in soil conservation programmes. Research limitations/implications – The results of the study reveal the appropriateness of the soil conservation technologies for the select soil type as well as the specific socioeconomic conditions of the farmers undertaking conservation compliance programs in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. Understanding the farmer’s perceptions and adoption behaviour is important in making the whole programme a successful one. Hence the results of the study may not be generalized for other study zones, unless otherwise, the agro-ecological zone is similar to the site where the study was conducted. Practical implications – The study suggested that adoption of conservation technologies should be promoted in a big way to conserve natural resources like soil and enhance economic returns. It is also advocated that institutions should provide only guidance for community participation not on community governance and the role should be involving the real stakeholders/beneficiaries under participatory mode to achieve the goal of soil conservation. The bottom-up approach should be adopted to address the real issues involved in conservation compliance programmes. Social implications – The outcome of the study advocates the economic viability of conservation technologies adopted by the crop farmers. The project results also advised the farmers, institutions and the enforcements authorities, the strategies to be adopted to minimize soil loss and increase crop productivity by adopting the appropriate conservation compliance programs. The results also revealed that conservation of soil and water not only conserved the precious natural resources but also had far reaching effect on the yield of croplands, which would be reflected on the food and nutritional securities of the local communities at the micro level and the nation as a whole at the macro level. Originality/value – The research outcome is based on the field level research done by the authors in the Western Ghats of India. The primary data collected from the respondents were analysed and used for drawing inferences and conclusions.
International Journal of Social Economics – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 2, 2015