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Institution: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
T J Wyatt is an associate scientist with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, based in Niamey, Niger. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis in agricultural economics in 1998. His dissertation, Investment in Erosion Control by Malagasy Farmers of the Hautes Terres, was the result of seven months of field work in Madagascar. Wyatt grew up on his family's ranch in Wyoming, USA. Following his BA from the University of Wyoming in 1985 in the area of International Studies, he worked in Mauritania as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps.
Title: "Poverty and degradation: What is the real linkage? Evidence from Madagascar and the Sahel. Co-author: Niek van Duivenbooden
Poverty and resource degradation have long been linked in the minds of policy makers and researchers. Indeed, the linkage seems almost too obvious to be questioned. Low-income households overuse resources in an attempt to improve their living standards and, in the process, reduce their ability to meet future needs. Resource economics, however, theorizes that households maximize net revenue over some time horizon and consider the impact of immediate resource use on future benefits. Poor households, like their wealthier neighbors, can be expected to engage in resource conservation. This result may not hold, however, if credit is constrained and conservation requires substantial investment.
To test these hypotheses, two studies are presented. The first examines the decision of farmers in the highlands of Madagascar to terrace hillside fields to control soil erosion. Analysis finds that income is negatively related to the construction of terraces implying that poor households are more likely to engage in soil conservation. The second study utilizes programming models to examine the use of chemical fertilizers to maintain soil fertility in the West African Sahel. Results indicate that fertilizer use is not economical given transport costs and the low value of the output. It is not constrained by poverty.