An economic analysis of the abonera maize production system in the Atlantic Coast of Honduras uri icon


  • This paper compares the economics of the abonera maize production system, in which maize is grown in rotation with a green manure crop (velvetbean, mucuna deeringiana), with traditional bush-fallow cultivation of maize in the Atlantic Coast area of Honduras. A probalistic cost-benefit analysis of introducing velvetbean into the existing maize cropping pattern is carried out for the field, farm, and regional level. The probabilistic approach allows for a more comprehensive assessment of economic profitability, one which recognizes that farmers are interested in reducing production risk as well as obtaining increases in average net benefits. The analysis reveals that the abonera system provides significant returns to land and family labor over the six-year life cycle. The abonera is not only more profitable than the bush-fallow system but reduces the variability in economic returns, making second-season maize a less risky production alternative. Although the labor requirement per unit of land is smaller in the abonera system than that in the bush-fallow system, the larger area allocated to maize implies a net increase in labor requirements at the farm lavel. At the regional level, widespread adoption of the abonera system appears to have increased the importance of the second season in total maize production. Although a casual link to adoption of the abonera system cannot be established conclusively from the data, adoption of the system remains a likely explanation for the changes observed in aggregate maize production in the Atlantic Coast region. Land rental prices for sowing second-season maize also reflect the widespread impact of the abonera system

publication date

  • 1998