Adoption of terraces in the Peruvian Andes

H. Posthumus

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Soil erosion is a serious constraint for agriculture and rural development in developing countries. Many efforts are made to promote soil and water conservation (SWC) among farm households. However, adoption of SWC practices is often disappointing. This thesis analyses the benefits of terraces and the adoption behaviour of farm households in the Peruvian Andes. The main beneficial effect of terraces is the increased water availability in the soils. However, terraces will only result in increased production if it is combined with intensified crop management or with crops of high market value. Whether terraces are financially attractive for farmers depends mainly on their personal opportunity cost of labour. Incentives though only slightly increase the profitability of terraces. The decision to participate in a SWC-oriented programme plays a key role in the adoption process. Programmes with a top-down approach have a strong influence on the adoption decision. Participants of these programmes installed SWC practices on the rainfed and degraded fields with steep slopes that are used for extensive agriculture or pasture. Participants of a participatory programme have more individual control on the adoption decision, and they installed terraces on the less degraded fields in order to intensify agricultural production. Production functions revealed that terraces do not result in a significant increase of agricultural output at household level, but labour productivity did increase. Terraces have the potential to increase agricultural production and factor productivity, but whether this is of interest of a farm household, depends on the existing markets. Therefore, programmes have to take into account the scarcity of production factors and the opportunities at local markets. As conditions differ per region, SWC interventions should be decentralised
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Stroosnijder, Leo, Promotor
  • Kuyvenhoven, Arie, Promotor
  • de Graaff, Jan, Co-promotor
  • Ruben, Ruerd, Co-promotor
Award date4 Nov 2005
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789085042495
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • soil conservation
  • peru
  • terraces
  • water conservation
  • economic analysis
  • innovation adoption

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