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Samantha Smith

This paper by Professor Casey reinforces the importance of human capital, education, and poverty in the context of Economic development. I went back to the comments on the blog from the last development class in the fall of 2013 (I had a little writers block…). I think that the class made very good points and reiterated the fact that issues of poverty and human capital are both simple in their correlation and solutions, yet still very complex.

Two comments that I thought made very good points were first- Olivia Davis’ comment about the evidence “supporting the benefits of adopters as advocates.” The farmers implementing agroforestry have specific training and have the investment of human capital that allows them to have the correct amount of certainty and confidence while also understanding the benefits of agroforestry. It makes a lot more sense that one impoverished farmer can communicate the positives of agroforestry with other impoverished farmers better than a third party that doesn’t have much connection with the socioeconomic status and farming in that area.

The second comment that brought up an excellent point was Greta Witter’s. Greta highlights that in this paper Professor Casey discusses economic development and environmental economics. Historically, environmental impacts were not calculated in economic development stories. Papers such as this one are important in the discussion and implementation of both economic development programs that help individuals and countries grow and also environmental policy. Because we have the technology to understand agroforestry and its benefits, as well as the resources to begin to invest in the human capital necessary to spread agroforestry, we may as well try to promote development and protective environmental policy at the same time.

Alexandra Butler

After taking Environmental Economics last year, I was happy to see a paper that argued environmental policy should be considered in growth tactics. Casey’s paper argues that not only is slash and burn an inefficient tactic for farmers, but it also hurts the environment. If farmers adopted agroforestry methods, they would simultaneously increase productivity and replenish nutrients in the soil. As Sam states above, it is important that developing countries are able to grow in a way that is environmentally friendly. Many developed countries are now battling environmental issues and paying for a past of rapid and reckless industrialization. If environmentally friendly practices could be implemented at early stages of growth for a country, it seems as though these countries may be less likely to face the same issues that countries, like the United States, now face. If greenhouse emissions had been controlled since the beginning of industrialization in America, perhaps air pollution would not be a major threat to climate change today. Many papers we have read focus on increasing modern sectors and industrialization in developing countries. However, none have considered how increasing industrialization could aggravate current levels of global greenhouse gas emissions. As I said before, developed countries are now paying for rapid and reckless industrialization that jeopardized the environment. It seems, then, that environmentalism cannot be forgotten when considering development policies.
I think it is also important to consider the negative effects of global warming that could actually increase levels of poverty in developing nations. The United Nations released a report this week on climate change. The report states that developing countries are the most vulnerable to coastal flooding due to climate change. The article linked below which summarizes the UN’s report states, “global warming could also increase illness in developing countries and increase poverty.” Last week, we read a paper detailing the dangers of malaria in developing countries. Malaria and poverty are causally linked and promote a cycle of poverty. While that paper focused on investing in malaria prevention programs, environmental policies were not considered. If global warming continues, then more developing countries may become vulnerable to malaria epidemics, and thus continue to suffer from poverty. This suggests then, that it will take more than purchasing mosquito nets to reduce malaria rates. It will also require policies that reduce climate change.
I think that Casey’s paper adds an important variable to development policy that has not previously been addressed in papers we have read: the environment. While it is important to promote growth in developing nations, this should be done with the environment in mind so that an increase in growth does not further aggravate the current global warming crisis. Furthermore, it is important to remember that global warming can also increase poverty. I think Casey’s paper shows the importance of integrating both environment and development policies, and how this can be accomplished by increasing human capital.

Jean Turlington

After reading this paper two particular thoughts stuck out in my mind. One was like Sam and Alexandra discussed, the relationship between environmental policy and development, and another was the importance of human capital investment. Policies and practices that hurt the environment may seem to be beneficial in the short run, but over time, they may not help the people or country implementing them and sometimes can even hurt people. If rain forests are diminished, natural resources are lost, and there are fewer trees to prevent mudslides and other natural occurrences on the simplest level. Not protecting the environment can have many other serious effects. Another interesting idea is sometimes developing countries have the idea that they should be able to have policies that do not help/maybe even hurt the environment now and then care about the environment later when they are developed. This is how developed countries functioned when they were developing. The argument I would posit is that polluting the environment in the past is what helped developed countries to grow so quickly, but this article shows that at least in some regards this is not the case. In fact it is the exact opposite, and practices and policies that help the environment may be better, especially in the long run. Alexandra makes reference to this when she mentions the malaria article from last week, if the environment is not protected there could be consequences and malaria growth. (This involves big assumptions, but the idea is the same).

The second idea that really caught my attention was investments in human capital as they relate to agroforestry. It was almost expected that investments in human capital would increase investments in agroforestry. Here the investment in human capital helps to reduce uncertainty and farmers are more willing to take a potential risk on agroforestry. Investments in human capital have emerged as a theme in our discussion of development thus far. When we discussed conditional cash transfers and the program in Nicaragua the part of the program that really seemed to make a difference was the almost forced investments in human capital of the mothers. The moms were required to go to nutrition classes, which not only increased the human capital of the mothers, as they knew more about nutrition but also increased the human capital of their children because they invested in the children’s health in a potentially more productive way after gaining more knowledge. There are many ways to invest in human capital, but the investments we have studied seem to put people in the right direction of moving out of poverty and increasing overall development.

Callie Northrop

I’d like to bounce off of what Gretta/Sam and Alexandra have mentioned: this paper does an excellent job of showing that not only does economic growth come from sustainable practices, but sustainable practices are more likely to be developed by countries with more human capital (and most likely, a larger economy). I think this also goes hand and hand with the idea that we discussed two weeks ago; people with more to lose are less likely to take risks. Sadly though, it is these developed countries that will most severely affected by the global climate change.
I frequently find myself questioning why sustainable practices haven’t been adopted (whether it be in individual homes, our country, China, or any low income countries), especially when many of the sustainable practices have been proven to increase savings or somehow boost productivity/the economy. This paper does a great job of detailing (and reminding me of) how it is how these decisions affect individuals. It becomes much more understandable that someone would hesitate to adopt agroforestry. These people don’t have the luxury of experimenting with practices; their entire income/livelihood is at stake.
So, we go back to the idea that economic growth, human capital, confidence and certainty are all necessary to investments and experiments in sustainable practices, making what seems like a “simple” solution, much more complicated.

Juan Cruz Mayol

To avoid repeating what other people have already talked about, I wanted to comment about the first part of the Empirical results section in the paper. The second paragraph is really concise and describes in a really easy way the observations from the experiment. Points 1,2,4, and 5 are similar, in the sense that they are related to previous knowledge, education, skills, and experience of the farmer. This would provide the farmer with enough information to 'trust' the decision of adopting agroforestry, whereas a farmer without this previous information, and whose life depends on the yield of his crops, would prefer to play safe and keep doing what has given him results before. Points 3, 7, 8, and 9, describe farmers who are in a position where they can take higher risks. This is because they feel that they are optimist about what they are producing now, they have more land to 'experiment' first, or because they do not have a family to sustain. The only point that I find no explanation for, and that I would like to discuss in class, would be 6, about people with lower incomes being more likely to adopt it. The only explanation I can think of is that they do not have much to lose and the opportunity cost is lower when they are thinking about risk.

HeeJu Jang

Without doubt, I strongly believe that human capital plays a significant role in decision making for investment. However, I think Juan bring a very important point to our discussion. Callie said in her comment, "people with more to lose are less likely to take risks" and are therefore more reluctant to invest. As Juan points out, the relatively smaller family size among farmers who did try agroforestry definitely had less to lose. What also caught my attention from the empirical results was that farmers with lower income level were more inclined to have tried or show interests in agroforestry. I was initially confounded since it seemed that engaging in agroforestry would require farmers to spend part of their income in planting the trees. However, if the monetary cost of agroforestry was not so high (i.e. people could get the trees from nearby forest and simply transplant them), it would make sense that the decision to invest is solely up to one's outlook and knowledge about agroforestry. Furthermore, the relatively poor farmers would have less wealth to lose and thus feel less risky about investing in agroforestry.

Reading a paper that relates human capital and agriculture, I could not help but remember the last class discussion about education in the rural countrysides. Professor Casey is correct in emphasizing the role of education in boosting investment in agriculture, yet I wonder what kinds of education he is aiming. Would the education reform in the rural area specifically focus on sustainable farming and other agricultural techniques or should it include other fields of study as well that might not be too practical (i.e. the ability to cite Shakespeare)?

Andrew Riehl

Last week, we emphasized the importance of increasing the quality of human capital in developing nations because of the success it has had on developed nations. The educational aspect of human capital allows people to make informed decisions and increase their work efficiency and work methods. This idea we talked about comes into play for this reading. The objective of this paper was to test the hypothesis that an increase in human capital (education specifically) increases the likelihood of partaking in an agroforestry development program. Agroforestry programs will in turn help the farmers to maintain quality of land and increase wages as opposed to slash-and-burn agriculture, which hurts the land. The article phrased it in a way so that more education means less uncertainty for farmers when the opportunity for agroforestry presents itself. To test this hypothesis, 175 farmers were interviewed in southeastern Mexico in 1998 and data collectors compiled information on different parts of their lives. The results convincingly showed that investment in human capital does lead to a higher probability of investment in agroforestry.
As some people have stated, I wonder about the type and quality of education in that southeastern region of Mexico. I feel like on-the-job training and formal training could be enough. I think this is true especially when the second to last paragraph of the conclusion states the “most important” part is for farmers who have already implemented agroforestry systems to help spread the message of its effectiveness and for them to do the on-the-job training. I sincerely believe in formal education, however in this case, I think it is more practical and easier to train in order to improve agricultural practices. Training takes less time than formal education and can have immediate results. Maybe it is possible to increase training in the region, which will increase wages. Once the wages are increased then the households can spend money on education, which will have even more returns than just investing in agroforestry.

Lucy Ortiz

Like the previous comments have mentioned, this article is an interesting applied explanation of the importance of human capital, in terms of education, that we discussed last week. I found the part about how lower income families being more likely to accept agroforestry surprising as Juan and HeeJu did. The explanation that popped into my mind was that potentially it is because all of the farmers that were interviewed were poor. Its not that the poor were more likely to use agroforestry than the rich. In addition, its important to remember that that result was not statsitically different from zero. So while it is interesting that income did not have a statistically significant positive effect, its not as important that it had a potentially negative coefficient as it could also have been zero. Potentially, maybe the income differences across the families were not big enough to have much effect on the risk of agroforestry from the farmers perspective.

Wilson Hallett

The article carefully identifies the literature that agroforestry farming is beneficial for a number of reasons and should be preferred to traditional methods of farming, but adoption rates still remain low in rural regions. This may be because of the uncertainty of the farmer to effectively utilize human capital to implement agroforestry. Casey argues, through the use of Keynes, that one must have knowledge and information to have enough confidence to weigh an investment into agroforestry.
The framework that is used is very compelling. It seems reasonable to assume that rational players in any market will want to gather as much information about a particular endeavor before making a decision to invest money. Casey looks at the particular instance of agroforestry. College education could be another topic that is explored in this manner... just a thought. But any investment shouldn’t be made with asymmetric information or else it is a gamble that is risky, especially when your livelihood is on the line. Hence why poor farmers would stick to traditional methods of cultivating crops, because it gets the job done and the farmers know that.
What was the most surprising from the analysis was the negative correlation with income and agroforestry for this one study. We expected income to increase with agroforestry implemented on farms, however this was not found to be the case. Every other variable with human welfare that was expected, was correct. Is this worrisome when presenting information to farmers to help them understand the benefits of agroforestry?

Austin Hay

The previous comments really hashed out a lot, so I don't have much more to add. I did find it interesting that the data presented gave a tangible (non income related) analysis to investments in human capital. We talk often about how the benefits from sending kids to school come in the form of better nutrition when they're adults and higher lifetime earnings, but this paper discussed a new benefit. Efficiency is a very important factor when farming, especially on these small farms, and if an increase in Human Capital leads to more efficient farms it not only helps the families running the farms (maybe in an increase in income, maybe not), but also the surrounding area. I say this because, as the paper said, the more trust the farmers can put into the information about agroforestry, the more likely they are to take part, and what better way to add "weight" to local farmers' decision making than for them to see their neighbors succeeding with it. Interesting, we always seem to come back to the point that communities can get caught in cycles of relative prosperity or cycles of disparity. Success breeds success and failure often leads to more failure.

It'd be interesting to see an experiment where an outside 'expert' comes in and trains one local farmer to become an expert on agroforestry. Then a successful local farm that incorporates agroforestry would add credibility to all the other farmers in the area, with the hope of more people taking part. This experiment could also show us how its dangerous to encourage these new practices without ensuring those implanting it are fully informed of the methods. For instance, consider if one convinced a local farmer to start planting the cedar trees on his farm, and he doesn't understand the strategy behind it and the outcome is harmful to his farm. Then the 'weight' that all the other locals might have put into deciding whether or not to also take part decreases. So one bad attempt of encouraging this can sour an entire area on it all together based on the models in this paper.

Bennett Henson

This paper further emphasizes a theme that has kept popping up all semester, the importance of education. When farmers are educated they place more weight on the information that is presented to them regarding agroforestry and its benefits, and thus are more likely to invest in the planting and maintaining of trees on their farm land. The benefits of agroforestry are numerous, well researched, and conclusive. But due to farmer's lack of forestry education and agroforestry information, farmers are hesitant to invest in a farming method which has been proven to increase future earnings and increase soil longevity. These claims are backed by the empirical evidence. Forestry education, tree planting experience, formal education attainment, agricultural experience and youth are all positively correlated to agroforestry interest. What this empirical evidence shows is that when farmers have more experience, knowledge, and information regarding agroforestry they place more "weight" on the forecasts that tell them agroforestry will increase their productivity. In order to convince the majority of farmers who have not obtained formal education or participated in forestry development programs we must educate these farmers on the benefits of agroforestry so that they are not hesitant to invest.

Kate LeMasters

Other students have rightly brought up the importance of environmental sustainability and human capital accumulation, but few have acknowledged or questioned how these initiatives tie into the development of an area as a whole. Casey’s paper and analysis all tie back into the traditional-sector enrichment theory that our textbook mentioned. Rather than focusing on increasing industrial or urban growth in Mexico, we should focus our efforts on rural, traditional enrichment through agroforestry. His argument adds to the statement first put forward in the text that traditional enrichment enhances development. By adding in the argument for environmental sustainability, he further enhances why traditional development should be emphasized. It not only increases agricultural productivity and the well-being of those on the farm, it improves the quality of the environment. However, his paper raises a worrying point as well. If we only focus on agroforestry and improve the productivity of areas, is there sufficient infrastructure for these potential gains to be realized? Are there financial markets in place, potential for farming beyond subsistence farming, etc.? The textbook’s chapter on agriculture described the levels of transition in farming, with subsistence being the first and least developed. However, to move away from subsistence farming, countries must have the means to further development beyond the agricultural sector.
I want to echo the point that Sam first raised pertaining to the train-the-trainer programs. Others emphasized this point as well: formal education may not be seen as a practical solution to low human capital, so practical training programs are likely better solutions. Additionally, locals already performing agroforestry and seeing success likely have more community entrée and are more trusted than outsiders. While development economics has begun to see the value in bottom-up approaches, it is important to re-emphasize that agroforestry not only come from initiatives within the country, but that it comes from current farmers already practicing agroforestry that have seen success. I was surprised that over 30% of the sample already practiced agroforestry, a relatively large amount. So, it seems as though there is a large enough pool for trainers for others in the area.

Brian Lawler

As I am pretty sure everyone already mentioned, Human Capital's role from growth to agricultural and environmental policy is fascinating. I would be curious to see whether or not formal education is preferable to informal information sessions covering agroforestry.
Another interesting point of the article was using Keynesian notions with a neoclassical model. I doubt there were any theoretical problems in conjoining the two unless there was some sort of assumption contradiction. However, it allowed for a clever solution to a complex problem that neither could likely solve on their own. Individuals are often time blind to the opposing side of view and it was nice to see a mesh of ideas used to solve a problem.

Madison Smith

I think that Keynes’ argument of the importance of knowledge in determining weight should be something applied to most sectors of life. I know there have been studies (I believe in North Carolina) that show that when parents are sent a mailer with all information about schools in the area, they are more likely to move their children to a different school when given the choice. Information allows individuals to fully realize the benefits of something that may seem risky. I think it is interesting that human capital can come in all different forms, but can accomplish the same goals of essentially incentivizing people to make an efficient choice.

From Casey’s results, it is easy see the benefits that human capital can have on increasing agroforestry. I would also think that if the government promised other assistance to farmers who switch it could have a positive effect. After individuals are more educated on agroforestry, if they know that they had a support system in place if things go awry, I would assume this would only give more weight to the decision to switch.

I am curious about the part on page 504 where it says that farmers who do adopt agroforestry eventually abandon the system. Is this because they are not educated enough to know how to efficiently carry out the new process? Or because they believe that the risk is too high? It seems that if they adopt the new system, they would be able to realize the benefits.

Ferrell Carter

Professor Casey’s paper illustrates a somewhat unconventional approach to incentivizing farmers in the agricultural sector. Typically, we would expect new technologies or other monetary incentives to persuade farmers to adopting new strategies. However, using the Keyne’s model of investment determination, Professor Casey concludes that an increase in human capital would ultimately lead to more informed decision making, and thus more investment in agroforestry Mexico.

I agree with Madison that this model can be applied to several different economic dilemmas. We have focused a lot of class time on the importance of human capital and how improving the capabilities of an individual has large returns to investment. I think that it’s interesting to see this strategy applied to a situation that combines a social issue (environmental sustainability) with profit maximizing goals of farmers. Lots of people have made comments on the important of sustainability in agricultural practices, and Jean made the point that Latin American countries have faced the consequences of not adopting more environmentally friendly agricultural techniques in the past. Investing in human capital seems to be the most sustainable form of investment in any scenario, as it is reinforcing from one generation to the next.

Stephen Moore

I found Professor Casey's emphasis on the importance of investment in human capital particularly interesting. A recurring theme in this course has been the importance of education in development economics. As Professor Casey pointed out in his results section, farmers need to consider the risk in switching farming techniques. Increased education and knowledge about agroforestry is important to incentivizing farmers to adopting this beneficial farming technique. People often need strong incentives to change their current habits, and education and investment in human capital could definitely provide the means to begin that change. Higher educations increases farmers' confidence in the technique, which would allow more farmers to understand how to successfully make this change. We have discussed in class how investments in human capital lead to modernized states, but this article focuses on the positive externalities of education in the agricultural sector. In this case, education not only benefits the individual, but also illustrates the positive environmental effects.

Daphine Mugayo

This is a really interesting paper and very familiar too. It kills two birds with one stone, environmental sustainability and traditional sector development. What I find really interesting, is that I think the purpose of the paper, seems obvious to any decision. The more informed you are about an investment, the more likely you are to commit. Just like extra credit, when you know that it will add 15 points to your final, you will more likely do it than when you are not sure it will contribute to your grade. What is great about the paper is the ability to model it. I guess at the end of the day KRUGMAN wins!

Agroforestry is also a growing issue in Uganda. As Uganda has an agricultural based economy, modern, more sustainable and productive methods of agriculture are being sought out. But as mentioned in the paper, it is key for farmers to be aware of Agroforestry and its advantages. To do so, the government of Uganda is pushing for more sensitization on this agricultural method in a number of ways; it has given out pieces of land to investors that are willing to plant trees in these rural areas. These investors are additionally taught methods of planting by experts in order to maximize their benefits and yields. By doing so, the nearness to farmers in these rural areas will expose these areas to the advantages of investment in this method. Additionally, as most of these investors have farms, they will be able to transfer this knowledge to their farmlands. They will also spread the word through their interactions with fellow farmers. By increasing the information and experience with tree farming, the government is increasing the human capital of farmers, lowering the uncertainty of investing in agroforestry and thus gradually creating a shift from traditional agricultural methods to more sustainable farming methods


As most of the other posts have stated, I found Professor Casey's article extremely interesting because it fits perfectly into the conversation the class had last week about Human Capital. I will not simply rehash what all of the others have said, but will focus on one aspect that I found fascinating: the question of how much "weight" farmers give to the implementation of agroforestry. The paper suggests that this notion of "weight" plays into the adoption or implementation of other innovative methods or practices as well. While human capital is, undoubtedly, a factor, I wonder if there are other factors that are just as important in deciding whether or not to invest.

I am very curious about the other industries or practices, besides agroforestry, that might be inhibited by the same lack in human capital. In an earlier post, Wilson mentioned that the decision to invest in higher education might be affected by the "weight" an individual gives to education. I agree with this assessment. I wonder if the decision on whether or not to take out loans for small businesses are also influenced by individual levels of human capital. After all, while some small businesses are successful, others fail and the owners are left in debt. These failures might discourage those with less human capital from even trying.

Richard Nelson

I couldn't help but think of the saying "if it aint broke, don't fix it," while reading these results. This is exactly the rationalization that the farmers are making when thinking about radically changing their farming techniques to agroforesty… The logic goes, “Okay, my crops are producing enough to live, and I can feed my family (barely), so I’m going to stick to this rather than risk it all for something better.” This is just like our conversation in class about the poor household being put in the position to take $1000 or have a 50-50 shot a $2000. Because they have so little, they will take the guarantee of $1000 rather than risk it all. However, in this case, the “risk” component is represented through a lack of information. This is encouraging, because we have the ability to improve education, show farmers that the results are very promising and worthwhile, and increase the adoption rate of agroforestry.

I found the data in this paper to be extremely encouraging, which I’m assuming was the purpose. This is a struggle of spreading information, which is a costly resource, in order to increase the net present value of agroforestry adoption. While I’m sure Internet access is limited for many farmers, the general trend of information sharing has only been increasing. How to share this information goes back to one of the fundamental factors of life quality – education. It benefits the movement two-fold. It increases the perceived “weight” of the benefits and provides the necessary skills to confidently make the transition. Even if the farmer knows that making the switch is beneficial, he has to have confidence in himself and the probability of making the transition in order to add to the adoption rate.

One of the other key factors to the adoption rate is trust. I can’t speak for the Yucatan farmers in this survey, but I would guess that many famers might completely understand what is being told to them about the benefits of agroforestry. However, the information is only as valuable as who it came from. If you have people affiliated with politicians, “modern sector” figures, or anyone outside of the farmer community pushing for this cause, I would bet that it is a lot less effective. I liked the part in the paper that suggested the benefits of farmers that have adopted this to help the cause. Not only does it show the success stories, it also creates momentum that farmers may feel that they are missing out on. The adoption rate should increase more rapidly as the initial farmers make the move and become word-of-mouth marketers for the transition to agroforestry.

Taylor Theodossiou

I found this paper to be very interesting because it reinforced the idea we’ve been learning all semester that poverty is a function of something and that that something in return is a function of poverty. Here it is applied to the idea that agroforestry could be a much more efficient and more productive way to produce agriculture than more conventional practices such as slash and burn. It has the added benefit that it is also more environmentally friendly as there is no nutrient depletion that normally comes from more conventional forms of agriculture. I agreed with Professor Casey that there is a need for increases in Human Capital so that people can develop agency and therefore make better choices. I think a lot of what was being said in this paper we have discussed or read about already. It is especially interesting because this increased knowledge people acquire through investments in Human Capital affects the weight that is given towards the adoption of agroforestry. A farmer with no previous experience and limited education will not be very likely to invest in agroforestry. However, this led me to the same question that Madison had about why people would abandon agroforestry after a period of time? I would assume that these people would see the benefits after they had spent a certain amount of time but perhaps there needs to be a push, which would be in the form of “informal specific on-the-job training, formal training, and formal education,” so that farmers choose to adopt agroforestry as a viable and more productive option.
I also like that this paper chooses to highlight a solution that goes beyond helping farmers economically. Agroforestry would also help the environment. However, I disagreed somewhat with some of my classmates who posted on the forum saying that poor countries should focus on environmentally stable practices because of the negative impact that developed countries have had on the environment in the past. I would argue against this because it promotes the idea that these underdeveloped countries are incapable of making the “right” choice without the help of a developed country. Instead I would argue that helping the poor through an environmental lens is necessary simply because it gives people more agency. A farmer who is taught about agroforestry may choose to continue to use the slash-and-burn technique, however, he now has a choice. And knowledge about the environment and the benefits of agroforestry might add weight to his decision even beyond the obvious benefits that this type of farming has.

Raymond Monasterski

This paper clearly identifies the importance of human capital as it relates to agriculture. I also think it shows the linkages between environmental science, environmental economics and development. As mentioned before, this paper relates with our discussion in the last class about education, especially as it relates to agriculture. In this case, the next question might be how we're going to educate the farmers about agroforestry. As shown through land grant universities, there are investments in human capital that can be made through investments in agricultural education. Obviously this would need to take a couple policy steps in order to keep costs lower and affordable for the mostly poor population such investments help. Moreover, the students might need a primary education too, in order to gain a better understanding and educational base that can propel them into agriculturally focused education.

Finally, as it relates to this article, trust and confidence are especially important in the model. They are found to be key ingredients in enacting the model and placing the "weight" in agroforestry. Obviously trust and confidence are very important, because at the end of the day, the individual farmers are making decisions to change techniques, which have consequences on themselves and their families. In the end, the relationship between agroforestry and development is clear, however, it is also appropriate to consider intermediate steps involved in helping farmers attain greater human capital which helps with growth and development and places greater weight on the evidence supporting agroforestry.

Chandler Moody

Professor Casey’s paper, as most Sam and Callie both noted, highlights a relationship between environmental policy and development. Often times, it seems like preserving natural capital can be left out of development economics. I liked this paper because it shows how practices that are sustainable can be financially beneficial as well, and the two can work together. Sure, it’s nice to know that your practices (whether it be farming or something more industrial) are helping the environment so that you feel like a good person, but this isn’t enough to motivate a lot of people/businesses. This paper provides evidence that a practice that is environmentally friendly can also have financial benefits. Relating to agroforestry, it cites increasing species diversity, reforestation, reducing use of chemicals on farms, and improving soil fertility as nonfinancial effects. But on top of these, there were financial effects that included more intensive use of the available land, reduction in time between cash flows, and sharing of costly resources among multiple outputs. This paper then questions why, given all of these business, farmers do not choose agroforestry.
According to the paper, the problem lies in the weight (or lack of weight) that the subsistence farmers give to the evidence. So it doesn’t matter so much what the evidence says but whether the farmer expects that he will be able to reap these benefits (based on an assessment of his own knowledge of trees, education level, exposure to agroforestry, etc). We’ve talked in class before about how people act based on their expectations. This came up when discussing urban migration and the idea that people move to cities if they expect to get a job there. An individual’s expectations can clearly play an important role in the efficiency of an economy. As shown in the empirical results of this paper, the lack of weight that a farmer places on evidence can cause economic inefficiency.
One last thing I wanted to note was the variable EXPOSE, which identifies those who have been exposed to agroforestry through a forestry-development program. If exposure can increase human capital and thus increase W, it seems likely that agroforestry might be a self-growing cycle once it is started. It seems like once one farmer is exposed to the practices, his starts doing agroforestry, and then his neighbor joins in and so on.

Mac McKee

Casey's paper raises a curious and frustrating issue: why aren't more farmers adopting agroforestry (and other new, potentially beneficial agricultural practices)? It's evident to students, economists, and many residents of the developed world that such practices are highly beneficial not only to the farmers but also society in general - they are sustainable, more productive, and environmentally friendly. Yet fewer farmers than expected adopt agroforesty in their own farms. Casey links this to human capital which could increase certainty among farmer re: agroforestry.

The question then becomes how to improve human capital and incent more farmers to incorporate agroforestry into their practices. I was fascinated by the findings of the paper, although some seemed to contradict one another. It was curious to me how larger farms and lower incomes seem to overlap. This would imply to me low efficiency and low level of education by extension. Apart from the other findings, number 6 makes sense to me; lower opportunity cost of switching, less to lose. However it intuitively clashes with some of the other characteristics of adopting farmers.

C Wood

I found this article very revealing regarding the significant effects of education. There is clear evidence against the argument that sending a kid on a farm to school won't provide nearly the same returns to society as highly educating kids who we percieve will advance to high levels of education. I found the section which quoted Blaug I very helpful in understanding the direct way that human capital increases as education increases. Though Blaug's statements are not very surprising based on what I have learned from class so far, I still wished that I would've read this excerpt sooner because it really conceptualizes the effects of education beyond just basic knowledge of learning to read or write. That education makes farmers more flexible, motivated, and productive is highly significant. This especially relates so what many others have connected already with regard to the large effects current farming methods have not only economically but also environmentally. I enjoyed that this article argued and provided support for benefiting both of these aspects of agroforestry.

Relating to the aspects of human capital addressed on page 515, I found most of the data unsurprising except income, as Professor Casey addresses. I think this is an important inclusion because contrary to a family being very poor, having higher education and exposure is more important in their choices than their income level. This is highly promising for encouraging the poorest farmers to use more modern tactics. It means that greater incomes of farmers (and therefore generating sources of incomes for funding) is not a primary necessity and other programs can be used instead which can reach a greater amount of farmers with the same allocation of funding. A final note in the paper about the auspicious outlook for farmers who have already successfully implemented agroforestry techniques is very promising and a good application of this idea.

Jacob Strauss

I'm a bit late to the party so it seems essentially everything I have thought about writing has already been posted by my classmates. I did a little extra reading about agroforestry to become more familiar with it and how it works since this is the first time I have heard of it, and from what I found in other studies it seems the investment in human capital is empirically shown in multiple areas to be effective. Communities often have a demonstrative plot that can be used to prove to other farmers how the process benefits crop production and in that manner they become effectively educated. These empirical findings support the effect of human capital on the solow growth model that we have discussed in class. In addition, I found this article stating that the AfDB is increasing investment in arogforestry in Africa by 10 million Euros http://forests-l.iisd.org/news/afdb-approves-10-million-euro-investment-in-agroforestry/. Casey's paper does not discuss the up front costs of this process but they would seem to be negligible (seeds and labor?), so I wonder if the investment is predominately for educating farmers on how the process works and less about paying for the inputs needed.

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