Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-klj7v Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-24T02:32:26.378Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

A spatial analysis of land use and cover change and agricultural performance: evidence from northern Ghana

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2018

Beliyou Haile*
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA
Sara Signorelli
Paris School of Economics, Paris, France
Carlo Azzarri
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA
Zhe Guo
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:


Using remotely sensed land-cover data in 1994 and 2014, and cross-sectional survey data in 2014, this study examines the association between land use and cover change and agricultural productivity in northern Ghana. We document a significant expansion of crop land and settlements (productive use) at the expense of natural vegetation cover. Land areas converted from natural cover to productive use have higher maize yield (0.17 tons per hectare) and harvest value (1,021 Ghanaian Cedi) compared with those converted from bare soil to productive cover. Moreover, areas that were covered by shrubs or savannah in 1994 were more productive in 2014 relative to bare soils in 1994. Although our data do not allow us to establish causality, the evidence suggests the importance of past land-cover conditions in affecting current agricultural performance, especially in resource-stricken settings where conservation and restoration practices are not as common.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Alavalapati, J (2003) Economics of forestry and rural development: an empirical introduction from Asia. Agroforestry Systems 58, 75. Scholar
Amarasinghe, U, Samad, M and Anputhas, M (2005) Spatial clustering of rural poverty and food insecurity in Sri Lanka. Food Policy 30, 493509.Google Scholar
Ayadi, M and Amara, M (2009) Spatial patterns and geographic determinants of welfare and poverty in Tunisia. Working Paper No. 478, Economic Research Forum.Google Scholar
Bai, Z, Dent, D, Olsson, L and Schaepman, M (2008) Proxy global assessment of land degradation. Soil Use and Management 24, 223234.Google Scholar
Barbier, E and Hochard, J (2016) Does land degradation increase poverty in developing countries?. PLoS ONE 11, e0152973.Google Scholar
Barrett, CB (2005) Rural poverty dynamics: development policy implications. Agricultural Economics 32, 4560.Google Scholar
Barrett, CB and Carter, MR (2013) The economics of poverty traps and persistent poverty: policy and empirical implications. Journal of Development Studies 49, 976990.Google Scholar
Benson, T, Chamberlin, J and Rhinehart, I (2005) An investigation of the spatial determinants of the local prevalence of poverty in rural Malawi. Food Policy 30, 532550.Google Scholar
Berry, L, Olson, J and Campbell, D (2003) Assessing the Extent, Cost and Impact of Land Degradation at the National Level: Findings and Lessons Learned from Seven Pilot Case Studies. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Bhattacharya, H and Innes, R (2006) Is there a nexus between poverty and environment in rural India? Paper prepared for the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Long Beach, California, 23–26 July 2006.Google Scholar
Biggelaar, C den, Lal, R, Wiebe, K and Breneman, V (2004) The global impact of soil erosion on productivity. I: absolute and relative erosion-induced yield losses. Advances in Agronomy 81, 148.Google Scholar
Braimoh, A (2009) Agricultural land-use change during economic reforms in Ghana. Land Use Policy 26, 763771.Google Scholar
Braimoh, A and Vlek, P (2005) Land-cover change trajectories in northern Ghana. Environmental Management 36, 356373.Google Scholar
Braun, J (1997) The links between agricultural growth, environmental degradation, and nutrition and health: implications for policy and research. In Vosti, S and Reardon, T (eds), Sustainability, Growth, and Poverty Alleviation: A Policy and Agroecological Perspective. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 6678.Google Scholar
Bremner, J, Carr, D, Suter, L and Davis, J (2010) Population, poverty, environment, and climate dynamics in the developing world. Interdisciplinary Environmental Review 11, 112.Google Scholar
Campbell, J and Wynne, R (2011) Introduction to Remote Sensing, 5th Edn. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Cleaver, K and Schreiber, G (1994) Reversing the Spiral: The Population, Agriculture, and Environment Nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Codjoe, S and Owusu, G (2011) Climate change/variability and food systems: evidence from the Afram Plains, Ghana. Regional Environmental Change 11, 753765.Google Scholar
Cooke, E, Hague, S and McKay, A (2016) The Ghana Poverty and Inequality Report: Using the 6th Ghana Living Standards Survey. Accra, Ghana: UNICEF.Google Scholar
Coomes, O, Takasaki, Y and Rhemtulla, JM (2011) Land-use poverty traps identified in shifting cultivation systems shape long-term tropical forest cover. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108, 13925–13930.Google Scholar
Dang, H, Lanjouw, P and Swinkels, R (2014) Who remained in poverty, who moved up, and who fell down? An investigation of poverty dynamics in Senegal in the late 2000s. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 7141, Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Dasgupta, S, Deichmann, U, Meisner, U and David, C (2003) The Poverty/Environment Nexus in Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Davies, S (2016) Adaptable Livelihoods: Coping with Food Insecurity in the Malian Sahel. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
Diao, X and Sarpong, D (2011) Cost implications of agricultural land degradation in Ghana: an economywide, multimarket model assessment. Ghana Strategy Support Program (GSSP) Background Paper 0003. International Food Policy Research Institute, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
Drukker, D, Peng, H and Prucha, I (2013a) Creating and managing spatial-weighting matrices with the spmat command. The Stata Journal 13, 242286.Google Scholar
Drukker, D, Prucha, I and Raciborski, R (2013b) A command for estimating spatial-autoregressive models with spatial-autoregressive disturbances and additional endogenous variables. Stata Journal 13, 287301.Google Scholar
Drukker, D, Prucha, I and Raciborski, R (2013c) Maximum likelihood and generalized spatial two-stage least-squares estimators for a spatial-autoregressive model with spatial-autoregressive disturbances. Stata Journal 13, 221241.Google Scholar
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2000) Land Resources Potential and Constraints at Regional and Country Levels (World Soil Resources Report 90). Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
FAO, (2011) The State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW)–Managing Systems at Risk. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
Filmer, D and Pritchett, L (2001) Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data-or tears: an application to educational enrollments in states of India. Demography 38, 115132.Google Scholar
Foley, J, Defries, R, Asner, G, Barford, C, Bonan, G, Carpenter, S, Chapin, F, Coe, M, Daily, G, Gibbs, H, Helkowski, J, Holloway, T, Howard, E, Kucharik, C, Monfreda, C, Patz, J, Prentice, I, Ramankutty, N and Snyder, P (2005) Global consequences of land use. Science 309, 570574.Google Scholar
Forsyth, T, Leach, M and Scoones, I (1998) Poverty and Environment: Priorities for Research and Policy: An overview study. Prepared for the United Nations Development Programme and European Commission. Institute of Development Studies, Sussex UK.Google Scholar
Fuglie, K and Rada, N (2013) Resources, Policies, and Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.Google Scholar
Guo, Z (2013) Mapping the planting dates: an effort to retrieve crop phenology information from MODIS NDVI time series in Africa. 2013 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium – IGARSS, Melbourne, pp. 32813284.Google Scholar
Guo, Z and Cox, C (2014) Market access. In Sebastian, K (ed.), Atlas of African Agriculture Research and Development: Revealing Agriculture's Place in Africa. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute, pp. 6667.Google Scholar
Gyawali, B, Fraser, R, Wang, Y and Bukenya, JO (2004) Land cover and socio-economic characteristics in the eight counties of Alabama: a spatial analysis. Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, 1–4 August 2004.Google Scholar
Hackman, K, Gong, P and Wang, J (2017) New land-cover maps of Ghana for 2015 using Landsat 8 and three popular classifiers for biodiversity assessment. International Journal of Remote Sensing 38, 40084021.Google Scholar
IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) (2015) Ghana Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) Baseline Evaluation Survey (GARBES)., Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:HX5rCx7iH56SQ1RBGOg73w==.Google Scholar
Ikefuji, M and Horii, R (2007) Wealth heterogeneity and escape from the poverty-environment trap. Journal of Public Economic Theory 9, 10411068.Google Scholar
Jeanty, P (2010) SPMLREG: Stata module to estimate the spatial lag, the spatial error, the spatial Durbin, and the general spatial models by maximum likelihood. Statistical Software Components S457135, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 25 Dec 2013.Google Scholar
Jeanty, P (2012) SPLAGVAR: Stata module to generate spatially lagged variables, construct the Moran Scatter plot, and calculate Moran's I statistics. Statistical Software Components S457112, Boston College Department of Economics.Google Scholar
Johnson, R and Wichern, D (1988) Applied Multivariate Statistical Analysis, 6th Edn. New York, NY: Pearson.Google Scholar
Kangalawe, R (2009) Land use/cover changes and their implications on rural livelihoods in the degraded environments of central Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology 47(Suppl 1), 135141.Google Scholar
Kazianga, H and Udry, C (2006) Consumption smoothing? Livestock, insurance and drought in rural Burkina Faso. Journal of Development Economics 79, 413446.Google Scholar
Kelejian, H and Prucha, I (1998) A generalized spatial two-stage least squares procedure for estimating a spatial autoregressive model with autoregressive disturbances. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 17, 99121.Google Scholar
Kelejian, H and Prucha, I (2010) Specification and estimation of spatial autoregressive models with autoregressive and heteroskedastic disturbances. Journal of Econometrics 157, 5367.Google Scholar
Lambin, E, Geist, H and Lepers, E (2003) Dynamics of land-use and land-cover change in tropical regions. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28, 205241.Google Scholar
Lanjouw, P, Marra, M and Nguyen, C (2013) Vietnam's evolving poverty map patterns and implications for policy. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6355, Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
LeSage, J (1999) The Theory and Practice of Spatial Econometrics (web manuscript). Toledo, OH: Department of Economics, University of Toledo. Available at Scholar
Malik, SJ (1998) Rural Poverty and Land Degradation: What Does the Available Literature Suggest for Priority Setting for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. A report. Washington, DC: Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).Google Scholar
Minnesota Population Center (2017) Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, International: Version 6.5 (Dataset). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
Minot, N and Baulch, B (2005) Spatial patterns of poverty in Vietnam and their implications for policy. Food Policy 30, 461475.Google Scholar
Montpellier Panel (2014) No Ordinary Matter: Conserving, Restoring, and Enhancing Africa's Soils. London, UK: Agriculture for Impact.Google Scholar
Moran, P (1950) Notes on continuous stochastic phenomena. Biometrika 37, 1723.Google Scholar
Mostseller, F and Tukey, J (1977) Data Analysis and Regression: A Second Course in Statistics, 1st Edn. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
Mustard, J, Defries, R, Fisher, T, Moran, E (2012) Land-use and land-cover change pathways and impacts. In Gutman, G, Janetos, A, Justice, C, Moran, E, Mustard, J, Rindfuss, R, Skole, D, Turner, B, and Cochrane, M (eds), Land Change Science. Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing, vol. 6. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 411429.Google Scholar
Nkegbe, P, Shankar, B and Ceddia, M (2011) Smallholder adoption of soil and water conservation practices in northern Ghana. Paper prepared for presentation at the EAAE 2011 Congress Change and Uncertainty, Zurich: Challenges for Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.Google Scholar
Nkonya, E, Pender, J, Kaizzi, K, Kato, E, Mugarura, S, Ssali, H and Muwonge, J (2008) Linkages Between Land Management, Land Degradation, and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Case of Uganda (IFPRI Research Report 159), Washington, DC: IFPRI.Google Scholar
Nkonya, E, Gerber, N, Baumgartner, P, von Braun, J, Pinto, A De, Graw, E, Graw, V, Kato, E, Kloos, J and Walter, T (2011) The economics of desertification, land degradation, and drought. IFPRI Discussion Paper 01086, Washington, DC: IFPRI.Google Scholar
Okwi, P, Ndeng'e, G, Kristjanson, P, Arunga, M, Notenbaert, A, Omolo, A, Henninger, N, Benson, T, Kariuki, P and Owuor, J (2007) Spatial determinants of poverty in rural Kenya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104, 1676916774.Google Scholar
Paraguas, F and Kamil, A (2005) Spatial econometrics modeling of poverty. WSEAS Transactions on Mathematics 4, 368373.Google Scholar
Pinstrup-Andersen, D and Watson, D (2010) Pursuing triple wins within the context of climate change. Paper presented at the Tenth International Conference on Development of Drylands, 12–15 December 2010, Cairo, Egypt.Google Scholar
Ravallion, M (1994) Measuring social welfare with and without poverty lines. American Economic Review 84, 359364.Google Scholar
Richards, J (2013) Remote Sensing Digital Image Analysis. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
Scherr, S (2000) A downward spiral? Research evidence on the relationship between poverty and natural resource degradation. Food Policy 25, 479498.Google Scholar
Sunderlin, W, Dewi, S, Puntodewo, A, Muller, D, Angelsen, A and Epprecht, M (2008) Why forests are important for global poverty alleviation: a spatial explanation. Ecology and Society 13, 24.Google Scholar
Templeton, S and Scherr, S (1999) Effects of demographic and related microeconomic change on land quality in hills and mountains of developing countries. World Development 27, 903918.Google Scholar
Tou, J and Gonzalez, R (1974) Pattern Recognition Principles, 2nd Edn. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
Turner, BL (2002) Toward integrated land-change science: advances in 1.5 decades of sustained international research on land-use and land-cover change. In Steffen, W, Jäger, J, Carson, DJ and Bradshaw, C (eds). Challenges of a Changing Earth. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 2126.Google Scholar
UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) (2017) Global Land Outlook. First edition. Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Bonn, Germany.Google Scholar
United Nations (2009) World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision Population Database. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
Vitousek, P, Mooney, H, Lubchenco, J and Melillo, J (1997) Human domination of earth's ecosystems. Science 277, 494499.Google Scholar
Vosti, S and Reardon, T (1997) Introduction: the critical triangle of links among sustainability, growth, and poverty alleviation. In Vosti, S and Reardon, T (eds). Sustainability, Growth, and Poverty Alleviation: A Policy and Agroecological Perspective. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 115.Google Scholar
Wiebe, K (2003) Linking Land Quality, Agricultural Productivity, and Food Security (Agricultural Economic Report Number 823). Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.Google Scholar
Wood, EC, Tappan, G and Hadj, A (2004) Understanding the drivers of agricultural land use change in south-central Senegal. Journal of Arid Environments 59, 565582.Google Scholar
World Bank (2007) Ghana – Country Environmental Analysis. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
World Bank (2011) Tackling Poverty in Northern Ghana. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
Yan, H, Liu, J, Huang, H, Tao, B and Cao, M (2009) Assessing the consequence of land use change on agricultural productivity in China. Global and Planetary Change 67, 1319.Google Scholar