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Agricultural Productivity in Africa

Jennifer Burney and Ran Goldblatt
School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego


In this project, we assess the impact of granting farmers title to their land on agricultural productivity in Benin. We test the hypothesis that formalizing land tenure and land use rights raises the incentives to landholders for making sustainable investments in their productive operations. We use remote sensing data to measure annual patterns of vegetation over time and apply a difference-in-differences and staggered-entry estimation strategy to identify program treatment effects. To assess patterns of annual vegetation cover across Benin, we use satellite observations of land cover from Landsat 7 to generate spectral indices that are sensitive to live vegetation and the presence of water (e.g., NDVI, SAVI, EVI, NDWI, and LSWI). To detect seasonal changes in vegetation, we analyze indices at high temporal resolution and fit sinusoids to the data. We perform the analysis at three geographical scales: the level of the village, the level of the plot, and the level of the pixel. For the pixel-level analysis, we sample a large number of pixels within villages, and calculate and analyze temporal changes in the per-pixel spectral indices over the period 2005 to 2015. For the analysis at the village level, we aggregate the pixels spatially to the level of the village, and analyze a full time series of both means and variances at the village scale. We compare results across spatial scales (pixel, plot, village) to understand the relative importance of spatial and temporal degrees of freedom in detecting land investments.

Thursday, November 9, 2017
11:00AM AP&M 2402