Payment for Environmental Services (PES): a mechanism for promoting sustainable agroforestry land use practices among smallholder farmers in Southern Africa uri icon


  • Sustainable agricultural production systems offer opportunities for producing food while simultaneously mitigating climate change are receiving increasing attention. In many cases however, field level adoption of these technologies by smallholder farmers has generally been limited due in part to low investment, less supportive policy and institutional context, among other reasons. To bridge the adoption-policy gap, other approaches beyond moral persuasions and â??wielding the stickâ?� (regulations) are needed. Based on a field study in Zambia, this paper argues for the institutionalization of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) as an important additional option for promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural technologies. We discuss how incentive mechanisms could help address the problem of low adoption of technically proven sustainable land use management practices and, enhance the possibility for encouraging farmers to adopt practices that provide dire ct benefits to them (e.g. food production) while also contributing to provision of global goods and services (e.g. reducing green house gas emissions). We recommend policy interventions including conditional and targeted incentives for agri-environmental land use practices; cushioning financial vulnerability and bridging the time lag be tween investment and accrual of benefits; investment in information and capacity building of farmers and national extension systems; new institutional forms of science-policy linkages to bridge the gap between technology developers and policy makers

publication date

  • 2008