Financial cost-benefit analysis of bench terraces in Rwanda

A.R. Bizoza, J. de Graaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Bench terracing has received considerable attention from soil and water conservation (SWC) programmes involved in soil erosion control in Rwanda. It is questioned, however, whether enough attention is paid to the suitability of the soils and to the eventual financial profitability. Terraces may reduce soil erosion and increase production but they should also provide sufficient financial gains at farm level. A plot level financial cost–benefit analysis was undertaken to examine under which social and economic conditions bench terraces are financially viable in Northern and Southern Rwanda. Farmers' estimates of respective costs and potato yields from plots with subsidized and un-subsidized bench terraces, progressive terraces and plots with no terraces at all were obtained for the analysis. Costs of labour and manure were found to be the most influential for the profitability of bench and progressive terraces. While the cost–benefit analysis, using market prices, showed that bench terraces would be hardly profitable, an analysis with opportunity costs for labour and manure indicated that bench terraces and even more progressive terraces can be financially profitable. Extra measures and incentives may be required to facilitate use of labour and access to manure, as now achieved with the one cow per family policy. This paper suggests that further studies should be undertaken to determine costs and benefits of bench terraces beyond private perspective in Rwanda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-115
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • west usambara highlands
  • soil conservation
  • water conservation
  • tanzania
  • adoption
  • farmers
  • policy
  • crop

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