Bruno Barbier

Institution: International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Honduras



Bruno BARBIER obtained his phD from the University of Montpellier in 1994. He then worked 4 years at the International Food Policy Research Institute where he developed bioeconomic models at the watershed and community level. He joined CIAT in July 1998 where he is developing decision support tools at different scales from the farm to the national level. He is also analyzing national level database.

Title: "Poverty and natural resource degradation in Honduras: An assessment at country level." Co-author: Gregoire Leclerc.

Theme: 3C


The paper addresses different issues relative to the relations between natural resource degradation and poverty in Honduras. First we try to clarify the concepts which are often tainted by many myths and preconceived ideas. For example, we discuss the relevance and demonstrability of the poverty trap hypothesis, for which it is assumed that poverty leads to resource degradation, which in turn drives more poverty. This leads to an evaluation of the relative contribution to resource degradation both from small farmers and from large farmers and companies.

Second we show through spatial analysis of poverty and natural resources (such as agricultural potential and land degradation) that the cause/effect relationship between these factors is possible, but can be difficult to extract and interpret. For instance we suggest that the low potential regions are also the least connected to the market, probably because of their low potential. Studies suggest that return to investment in low potential areas can be lower than in high potential areas where investments are already important. In other word the lack of infrastructure magnifies a supposed deficiency in natural resources of the low potential areas. We show that the relation between poverty and degradation is much more difficult to establish. We used the Glasod map as a proxy for land degradation, and various poverty indices derived from census data. We see that although positive relationships with poverty do exist in some cases, ancillary data provided by local experts is needed to validate them.

We analyze the implication of our findings in the scope of the contribution of Natural Resource Management to poverty alleviation. This is done through a comparative analysis of small and large scale farming with respect to prices, policies (subsidies, incentives, etc.), labor and machinery, and access to markets.

 Back to top