Farming system evolution and sustainable land management

This research has aimed to improve our understanding of the following research questions:

How does population growth and technological change interact over time?

How are processes of deforestation, land degradation, and land investments explained by changes in population pressure, technology, market structures, and policies?

How are basic agroecological conditions, like rainfall and rainfall variation, and soil characteristics, affecting household behavior in form of land use intensification and extensification strategies?

How does poverty affect incentives to degrade or conserve the land resources?

How can policies be designed to create incentives to conserve rather than to degrade the land resources?

Recent Publications:

Makate, C. Angelsen, A., Holden, S. T., Westengen, O. T. (2023). Evolution of farm-level crop diversification and response to rainfall shocks in smallholder farming: Evidence from Malawi and Tanzania, Ecological Economics, 205, 107736, ISSN 0921-8009,

Makate, C., Angelsen, A., Holden, S.T. & Westengen, O. T. (2022): Crops in crises: Shocks shape smallholders' diversification in rural Ethiopia. World Development, Vol 159, ISSN 0305-750X,

Gebru, M., Holden, S. T. and Alfnes, F. (2021). Adoption analysis of agricultural technologies in the semi-arid northern Ethiopia: A Panel Data Analysis. Agricultural and Food Economics 9(12) Link

Katengeza, S. P. Holden, S. T. (2021). Productivity impact of drought tolerant maize varieties under rainfall stress in Malawi: A continuous treatment approach. Agricultural Economics 52 (1), 157-171. Link

Holden, S. T. (2019). Economics of Farm Input Subsidies in Africa. Annual Review of Resource Economics, doi: 10.1146/annurev-resource-100518-094002. Link

Hadush, M., Holden, S. T. and Tilahun, M. (2019). Does population pressure induce farm intensification? Empirical evidence from Tigrai Region, Ethiopia. Agricultural Economics, doi:10.1111/agec.12482. Link

Katengeza, S., Holden, S. T. and Fischer, M. (2019). Use of Integrated Soil Fertility Management Technologies in Malawi: Impact of Dry Spells Exposure. Ecological Economics, 156 (February): 134-152. Link

Holden, S. T. (2018). Fertilizer and Sustainable Intensification in Sub-Saharan Africa. Global Food Security 18, 20-26. Link

Fisher, M., Holden, S. T., Thierfelder, C., Katengeza, S. P. (2018). Awareness and adoption of conservation agriculture in Malawi: what difference can farmer-to-farmer extension make? International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 1-16. Link Doi: 10.1080/14735903.2018.1472411.

Holden, S. T., Fisher, M., Katengeza, S., Thierfelder, C. (2018). Can Lead Farmers Reveal the Adoption Potential of Conservation Agriculture? The Case of Malawi. Land Use Policy 76C, 113-123. Link

Holden, S. and Mangisoni, J.(2013). Input subsidies and improved maize varieties in Malawi: - What can we learn from the impacts in a drought year? CLTS Working Paper No. 7/2013. Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway. Link

Holden, S.(2013). Input subsidies and demand for improved maize: Relative prices and household heterogeneity matter! CLTS Working Paper No. 6/2013. Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway. Link

Holden, S.(2013). Amazing maize in Malawi: Input subsidies, factor productivity and land use intensification. CLTS Working Paper No. 4/2013. Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway. Link

Holden, S. T. and Lunduka, R. (2012). Do Fertilizer Subsidies Crowd Out Organic Manures? The Case of Malawi. Agricultural Economics 43, 301-312. Abstract

Gebregziabher, G. and Holden, S. T. (2011). Does Irrigation Enhance and Food Deficits Discourage Fertilizer Adoption in a Risky Environment? Eveidence from Tigray, Ethiopia. Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics 3(10), 514-528. Link

Hagos, F. and Holden, S. T. (2011). Fertilizer Use by Smallholder Households in Northern Ethiopia: Does Risk Aversion Matter? In R. A. Bluffstone and G. Köhlin (eds.) Agricultural Investment and Productivity. Building Sustainability in East Africa. RFF Press, Washington, DC & London.

Holden, S. T. and Lunduka, R. (2011). Do Fertilizer Subsidies Crowd Out Organic Maures? The Case of Malawi. Paper submitted for the EAERE conference in Rome, June 29-July 2, 2011. Link

Holden, S. T. and Lunduka, R. (2010). Too Poor to be Efficient? Impacts of the Targeted Fertilizer Subsidy Program in Malawi on Farm Plot Level Input Use, Crop Choice and Land Productivity. Report to NORAD. Department of Economics and Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Link to paper. Link to blog briefs.

Holden, S. T., Deininger, K. and Ghebru, H. (2009). Impacts of Low-cost Land Certification on Investment and Productivity. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 91 (2):359-373. Abstract

Holden, S. T., Shiferaw, B. and Pender, J. (2006). Policies for Poverty Reduction, Sustainable Land Management and Food Security – A Bio-economic Model with Market Imperfections. In J. Pender, F. Place and S. Ehui (eds.), Strategies for Sustainable Land Management in the East African Highlands. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D. C. Link

Holden, S. T., Shiferaw, B. and Pender, J. (2005). Policy Analysis for Sustainable Land Management and Food Security – A Bio-economic Model with Market Imperfections. Research Report 140. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D. C. Abstract and Full Report

Holden, S. and Lofgren, H. (2005). Assessing the Impacts of Natural Resource Management Policy Interventions with a Village General Equilibrium Model. In B. Shiferaw, H. Ade Freeman and S. Swinton (eds.), Natural Resource Management in Agriculture: Methods for Assessing Economic and Environmental Impacts. CABI Publishing, pp. 295-318.


Some Older Publications:

Holden, S. T. and Shiferaw, B.(2002). Poverty and Land Degradation: Peasants’ Willingness to Pay to Sustain Land Productivity. In C. B. Barrett, F. M. Place, and A. A. Aboud (eds.), Natural Resource Management in African Agriculture: Understanding and Improving Current Practices. CABI Publishing in Association with International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, Oxon and New York. Book

Holden, S. T. (2001). A Century of Technological Change and Deforestation in Miombo Woodlands in Northern Zambia. In A. Angelsen and D. Kaimowitz (eds.), Technological Change and Deforestation. CABI Publishing, New York. Book chapter

Pagiola, S. and Holden, S. (2001). Farm Household Intensification Decisions and the Environment. In D. R. Lee and C. B. Barrett (eds.), Tradeoffs or Synergies? Agricultural Intensification, Economic Development and the Environment. CABI Publishing, New York. Book chapter

Shiferaw, B., Holden, S. T., and Aune, J. (2000). Population Pressure and Land Degradation in the Ethiopian Highlands: A Bio-Economic Model with Endogenous Soil Degradation. In N. Heerink, H. van Keulen, and  M. Kuiper (eds.), Economic Policy Reforms and Sustainable Land Use - Recent Advances in Quantitative Analysis for Developing Countries. Springer Verlag. Book chapter

Holden, S. T. and Shiferaw, B. (2000). Incentives for Sustainable Land Management in Peasant Agriculture in the Ethiopian Highlands. In D. Sanders, P. Huszar, S. Sombatpanit and T. Enters (eds.), Using Incentives in Soil Conservation. To be published by Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Dehli for World Association of Soil and Water Conservation. Abstract

Shiferaw, B. and Holden, S. T. (1998). Resource Degradation and Adoption of Land Conservation Technologies in the Ethiopian Highlands: A Case Study in Andit Tid, North Shewa. Agricultural Economics 18: 233-247. Abstract

Holden, S. T. and Sankhayan, P. (1998). Population pressure, agricultural change and environmental degradation in the western Himalayan region of India. Forum For Development Studies 2: 271-300. Summary

Holden, S. T. and Binswanger, H. P. (1998), Small farmers, market imperfections, and natural resource management.  In E. Lutz, H. P. Binswanger, P. Hazell, and A. McCalla, eds., Agriculture and the Environment. Perspectives on Sustainable Rural Development. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Chapter

Holden, S. T. (1997). Adjustment Policies, Peasant Household Resource Allocation, and Deforestation in Northern Zambia: Overview and Some Policy Conclusions. Forum for Development Studies 1: 117-134.

Shiferaw, B. and Holden, S. T. (1997). Peasant Agriculture and Land Degradation in Ethiopia. Forum for Development Studies 2, 277-306.

Holden, S. T., Hvoslef, H. and Simanjuntak, R. (1995). Transmigration Settlements in Seberida, Sumatra: Deterioration of Farming Systems in a Rain Forest Environment. Agricultural Systems 49, p.237-258. Abstract

Holden, S. T. and Shanmugaratnam, N. (1995). Structural Adjustment, Production Subsidies, and Sustainable Land Use. Forum For Development Studies 2, p.247-266. Summary

Holden, S. T. (1993). Peasant household modelling: Farming systems evolution and sustainability in northern Zambia. Agricultural Economics 9, 241-267. Abstract

Holden, S. T. (1993). The potential of agroforestry in the high rainfall areas of Zambia: A peasant programming model approach. Agroforestry Systems 24, 39-55. Abstract

Matthews, R. B., Holden, S. T., Volk, J. and Lungu, S. (1992). The potential of alley cropping in improvement of cultivation systems in the high rainfall areas of Zambia. I. Chitememe and Fundikila. Agroforestry Systems 17, 219-240. Abstract

Matthews, R. B., Lungu, S., Volk, J., Holden, S. T. and Solberg, K. (1992). The potential of alley cropping in improvement of cultivation systems in the high rainfall areas of Zambia. II. Maize production. Agroforestry Systems 17, 241-261. Abstract

Holden, S. T. (1992). Økonomisk vekst og bærekraft: Landbruk i Sub-Sahara Afrika. Landbruksøkonomisk Forum 1, 55-70.

Holden, S. T. (1992). Indonesia - utvikling, mat og miljø. Landbruksøkonomisk Forum 4, 37-50.

Holden, S. T. & Otika, L. J. (1991). Farmer Participatory Research and Agroforestry Development - A Case Study from Northern Zambia. Agricultural Systems 36, 173-189. Abstract

Holden, S. T. (1991). Landbruksforskning i U-land - mot bærekraftig utvikling? Landbruksøkonomisk Forum 2, 45-56.

Holden, S. T. (1991). Peasants and Sustainable Development: the Chitemene region of Zambia. Theory, Evidence, and Models. Dr. Scient.-dissertation. Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Agricultural University of Norway, Ås.

Holden, S. T., Lungu, S. & Volk, J. (1989). Growth rate and coppicing ability of Sesbania macrantha after repeated prunings at various heights. Nitrogen Fixing Tree Research Reports 7, 132-134.

Holden, S. T., Lungu, S. & Solberg, K. H. (1988). Biomass yield of Leucaena cultivars in Northern Zambia. Leucaena Research Reports 9, 138-140.

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