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Time Preferences, Land Tenure Security and the Adoption of Sustainable Land Management Practices in Southeast Nigeria

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Cynthia Olumba, Professor Guy Garrod, Dr Francisco ArealORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Sustainable land management (SLM) practices are important for tackling agricultural land degradation. This study investigates the association between farmers’ time preferences and their adoption of SLM practices (agroforestry, terracing, and land fallow practices) with intertemporal benefits, and further documents the moderating role of land tenure security in this relationship. The analysis in the paper is based on data from a survey of 480 farmers in south-east Nigeria, complemented by semi-structured interviews. Farmers’ time preferences were elicited using both a survey and experiments with hypothetical payouts. Land tenure was conceptualised as a composite concept to suit the legally pluralistic context of the study area. This study found that many of the sampled farmers have high discount rates. The result further shows that farmers’ time preferences are negatively associated with their adoption of agroforestry and land fallow practices. Moreover, the result shows that both legal and de facto tenure security encourage the adoption of SLM practices. Other factors influencing the adoption of SLM practices include gender, household size, education, credit constraints, marital status, risk attitude, farming experience, and farm characteristics (e.g., erosion problems and steepness of slope). Furthermore, this study found that the security-enhancing effect of land tenure security (de facto) can alleviate the negative influence of time preferences on farmers’ adoption of SLM practices. The findings suggest that farmers with higher discount rates, who have secure tenure rights to land, are more likely to adopt SLM practices, compared to similar farmers without tenure security.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Olumba CN, Garrod GD, Areal F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sustainability

Year: 2024

Volume: 16

Issue: 5

Print publication date: 21/02/2024

Online publication date: 21/02/2024

Acceptance date: 28/01/2024

Date deposited: 27/02/2024

ISSN (electronic): 2071-1050

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/su16051747


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