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Markets drive renewal in Kenya

The recovery of the degraded Machakos district in Kenya, reported by Tiffen et al. (1994) is a well-known success story. Land quality improved despite a fivefold increase in population pressure from 1930 to 1989.

How can this be? Conventional wisdom has it that increasing population pressure will degrade lands.

The answer lies in the power of markets. Farmers responded to growing market opportunities in nearby Nairobi by implementing soil and water conservation practices, adopting new and more diverse cropping systems, and reinvesting gains from off-farm employment into their farm operations.

In short, Machakos farmers found that better land care brought more income and a brighter future.

Return to "Dryland success stories" 


Tiffen, M. 2002. The evolution of agroecological methods and the influence of markets: case studies from Kenya and Nigeria. Pp. 95-108 in Uphoff, N. (ed.) Agroecological Innovations. London: Earthscan.

Tiffen, M., Mortimore, M., and Gichuki, F. 1994. More People, Less Erosion: Environmental Recovery in Kenya. London: John Wiley and Sons.



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