The Impact of Land Conflict on Land Productivity: Evidence from Liberia

This paper examines both the correlates of land conflict and the effects of this conflict on crop yields, farmers’ investments in permanent trees and crops. The productivity effects of land conflict are estimated at the town-level considering the endogeneity of conflict. We use data from the Household Income Expenditure Survey (HIES) of Liberia and from the Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) baseline survey for the same year. The main findings reveal that gender, distance from the farm to home or the road, soil quality, slope of the farmland, marital status, soil erosion, government extension services and age of the farmers are all significantly correlated with land conflict. We find that land conflict increases investments in permanent trees relative to non-tree crops. Three policy implications of the study stand out. First, farm yields in Liberia can be increased by implementing comprehensive soil erosion reduction strategies that involve building of gabions, terraces, reforestation schemes, as well as mass education of farmers on proper agricultural practices, including, for example, ploughing along the contours or planting cover crops in areas with massive soil erosion or mass wasting of cropland. The second policy revelation of the study is that measures to avoid land conflicts should be designed and implemented as a matter of urgency because there is strong statistical evidence that conflicts drive farm productivity practically to zero. The third policy implication is that government extension services and the opening of remote areas via construction of access roads have large positive effects on agricultural productivity