Household-level effects of China’s Sloping Land Conversion Program under price and policy shifts

A.M. Komarek, Shi Xiaoping, N.B.M. Heerink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined how agricultural households involved in China's Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP) could respond to expected changes in environmental and livestock policies and changing commodity prices. We calibrated a farm household model using 2009 survey data collected in northeast Gansu Province, China, and examined the responses of four different household groups. Household groups were distinguished based on the resources they possessed for either cropping, livestock husbandry or off-farm employment. We also calculated the opportunity cost of converting sloping land from grain crop production to perennial grass production and included the net value of the replacement crop in these calculations. Our model simulations indicated that subsistence-oriented households were most likely to participate in the SLCP, and that SLCP payment reductions could have large negative income effects for this group. Reductions in SLCP payments increased income inequality among households in the study area. Migration- and cropping-oriented households have fewer incentives to participate in the SLCP. With rising commodity prices, SLCP payments need to rise to avoid that subsistence-oriented households reconvert their land from perennial grasses to annual grain crops. Local government policies related to livestock production are being devised in Gansu as a method to lift incomes, and these policies could also have positive environmental benefits by increasing grass production on sloping land. The introduction of these livestock promotion policies had modest income effects but did not alter the area grown with grasses under the SLCP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • conservation set-aside
  • western china
  • ecosystem services
  • green program
  • grain
  • impact
  • agriculture
  • livelihoods
  • payments
  • food

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