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Poverty, Food Security and Environmental Stress in Developing Areas. Chris Barrett Dept. of Applied Economics & Management. Some reflections on my research program and work with graduate students. September 21, 2001. My Background.

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poverty food security and environmental stress in developing areas

Poverty, Food Security and Environmental Stress in Developing Areas

Chris Barrett

Dept. of Applied Economics

& Management

Some reflections on my research program and work with graduate students

September 21, 2001

my background
My Background

Grew up along Chesapeake Bay, working and playing on the water, including with the state park service and private watermen

Longstanding outdoors enthusiast -- hiking, skiing, sailing, fishing, etc.

my teaching program
My Teaching Program

Policy-oriented development economist,

focus on empirical issues in microeconomics

Graduate-Level Teaching:

AEM 762: Microeconomics of International Development

AEM 765: Dev’t Microeconomics seminar

IA 620: African Food Security and Natural Resources Management seminar

my research
My Research

3 foci in my research:

(1) poverty, hunger, food security, economic policy and the structural transformation of low-income societies .

(2) individual and market behavior under risk and uncertainty.

(3) the interrelationship between poverty, food security and environmental stress in developing areas .

graduate students my research
Graduate Students & My Research

Simply put, working with graduate students is the best part of my job.

- enthusiasm and creativity

- skills and vicarious training

- maturity to do field-based work

- build capacity in low-income countries

Direct Einaudi Center predissertation workshop on Rural Livelihoods and Biological Resources: Technologies and Institutions

Co-Direct CIIFAD’s African Food Security and Natural Resources Management program, including new Rockefeller Foundation-funded doctoral training program for cohorts of scientists

entr e to poverty food security environment nexus
Entrée to Poverty-Food Security- Environment Nexus

After a circuitous undergraduate route, developed a focus on the economics of poverty alleviation, with a special interest in the tropics, especially Africa.

Dissertation field work in Madagascar opened my eyes to the inextricable relationship between rural poverty and natural resource degradation in the tropics:

- bidirectional causality between these phenomena

- mutual causality by broader political economy factors

my work on poverty food security and environmental stress
My work on poverty, food security and environmental stress

Interrelated topics:

(1) Rangelands in east Africa

(2) Biodiversity and wildlife conservation

(3) Deforestation

(4) Sustainable agricultural intensification

(5) Christianity and the environment


USAID Global Livestock CRSP Project:

Pastoral Risk Management

in East African Rangelands

- 6 years, $1.95 mn

- co-PI with range ecologist, anthropologist and rural sociologist

Rangelands in East Africa


Natural Resource Issues:

(1) Generalized versus localized degradation

- locational choice and the commons

(w/ T. Lybbert, S. Desta and L. Coppock)

(2) Water points management, fuzzy property rights and quasi-insurance (w/J.McPeak & N.McCarthy)

(3) Crop-Livestock integration and the underlying agroecology (w/ A. Teklu)

(4) Human-wildlife conflicts (w/ I. Rhinehart & P.Sullivan)

Rangelands in East Africa


ICDPs work with Peter Arcese

1995 World Dev’t

- founded on untested biological and economic assumptions

1998 Land Econ

- linked wildebeest population dynamics and peasant household model with endogenous poaching to demonstrate threat of conjunctural crashes due to time-varying returns to ag labor

New integrated modeling work on Serengeti

(NCEAS: Packer, Sinclair, Hilborn, Coughenour et al.)

Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation


Context-Dependent Conservation Design:

Work with Heidi Gjertsen (grad student), Katrina Brandon (Cons. Int’l) and Clark Gibson (UCSD)

Conserving Tropical Biodiversity Amid Weak Institutions (2001 BioScience)

- comparative advantage and the coordination- concentration choice

2001 Working paper

- adapt theory of agrarian contracts to identify how optimal design shifts with underlying resource and agent attributes

Biodiversity and Wildlife Conservation


The Prospects for Successful Resource Commercialization:

Work with Travis Lybbert (grad student)

2000 Ecological Economics

- why bioprospecting is unlikely to be an effective conservation tool on a wide scale

2001 Working papers on Morocco’s argan forest

- why commercial boom hasn’t induced forest conservation: biology and markets



Shifting Cultivation and Tropical Forests:

Irreversibility, temporal uncertainty and spatial externalities

(1997 JEEM with Amit Batabyal)

Stochastic Food Prices & Slash-and-Burn Ag (1999 Env’t & Dev’t Economics)

Policy Reforms and Threats to Fragile Margins

(2001 book chapter with Tom Reardon)

Doug Brown’s dissertation work: bioeconomic modeling of Central African forest agriculture



Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

Tradeoffs or Synergies? Agricultural Intensification, Economic Development and the Environment (CABI, 2000 w/David Lee)

- ag intensification as a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving food security, poverty alleviation and environmental goals


Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

Natural Resources Management in African Agriculture (CABI, 2002 w/Frank Place and Abdillahi Aboud)

online: http://www.aem.cornell.edu/special_programs/AFSNRM/ICRAFBook/

Comparative studies across Africa on soil fertility and soil and water conservation … NRM as investment


Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

2001 Working paper with Sherlund and Adesina, Environmental Variables and Mismeasurement of Agricultural Productivity

once one controls

properly for agro-

ecological variability,

most Ivorien rice

farmers appear very



Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

How have market-oriented reforms affected SAI incentives?

1999 Development Policy Review (with Reardon, Kelly and Savadogo)

Problem of making markets and government work together effectively to induce smallholder investment in sustainable intensification


Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

Work on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) adoption and disadoption dynamics in Madagascar (w/ Chris Moser)

Rural financial market failures lead to nonadoption by poorer farmers while those with salaried non-farm income disadopt due to time demands of the method


Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

Agroindustrialization and environmental effects:

surprisingly underresearched topic, especially on downstream issues. Edited special issue of Environment and Development Economics on topic (October 2001) with Ed Barbier and Tom Reardon.


New African Food Security and Natural Resources

Management (AFSNRM) Program Research Projects

USAID BASIS CRSP (3 yr, $600K) “Rural Markets, Natural Capital and Dynamic Poverty Traps in East Africa” in Kenya & Madagascar with FOFIFA, ICRAF and KARI

christianity and the environment
Christianity and the environment

My faith partly motivates my concerns about stewardship for both the wonders of creation and those less fortunate than we.

Dabble in this arena: CSR (1998) and set of papers with Ray Grizzle (UNH) -- Zygon, Environmental Ethics, Trinity Journal -- and John Bergstrom

summary oikos
Summary: Oikos

Both people and the biosphere are suffering in most of the tropics today. Understanding the interrelationship between ecological and economic processes is a daunting but important challenge in such settings.

Especially in collaboration with good biological scientists, I have found that economic theory and empirical methods offer useful insights as to why certain patterns emerge and what policies might prove effective. Graduate students have played and will play a key role in this research.