Optimal Conversion of Forest Land to Agriculture: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire
The Ivorian economy is based on agriculture which constitutes by far the main cause of deforestation through its shifting characteristic. This situation threatens the ecological equilibrium on which depends in turn agricultural productivity.
This paper investigates the determinants for optimal conversion of forest land to agriculture. To this end, we firstly established the optimal rule of forest land allocation to agriculture based on a rigorous forest land use modelling using optimal control techniques. Secondly, we evaluate the effects of the variables highlighted by the theoretical model through an econometric model in the form of error correction model. The study shows that the opportunity cost of forest land and the marginal cost of agricultural exploitation preserve the forest by limiting forest land conversion to agriculture. However, a technological progress in agricultural sector amplifies land conversion process. Finally, we found that there is a minimum level of agricultural yield (967.1 kg/ha) required to reduce forest land conversion. Thus, the paper recommends the development of off farm activities, an increase in agricultural yield and the adoption of labour intensive technologies in order to ensure a sustainable economic growth.
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