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Investigación económica

versión impresa ISSN 0185-1667

Inv. Econ vol.64 no.251 México ene./mar. 2005



Credit use, factor substitution and rural income distribution: a study on maize farmers in occidental Honduras

Uso de crédito, sustitución de factores y distribución del ingreso rural: un estudio sobre los agricultores de maíz en Honduras Occidental

Ruerd Ruben* 

Hubert Kolk* 

* Wageningen University, Department of Social Sciences, Development Economics Group, Netherlands <>.


Credit is usually considered as an important device for adjusting farmers' resource management and livelihood strategies. Farmers with better access to financial services are supposed to be able to increase their marginal returns to variable production factors like labor and fertilizers. Factor substitution is likely to take place towards more intensive production systems that are better able to guarantee food security and to enhance sustainable land use.

We made a study of maize farmers located in the Occidental department of Lempira in Honduras to analyze the impact of credit use on marginal returns to land, labor and fertilizers subject to the availability of credit. It was found that factor shares of labor and fertilizers substantially increased for farmers using credit, whereas the factor share of land was strongly reduced. The relative position of landowners is subject to deterioration, while the influence of input providers is likely to increase. Given the complementarities between fertilizers and labor, credit could be an important instrument for adjusting rural class relations.


El crédito ha sido considerado comúnmente como una estrategia importante para influir en el manejo de recursos y las estrategias de sobrevivencia campesina. Los productores con mejor acceso a recursos financieros tienen más opciones para incrementar el retorno marginal de factores variables de producción, tales como trabajo y fertilizantes. Es probable que la sustitución de factores se lleva a cabo hacia sistemas de producción más intensivos que puedan garantizar mejor la seguridad alimentaria y favorecer el uso sostenible de los suelos.

Hemos realizado un estudio entre productores de maíz ubicados en el departamento occidental de Lempira en Honduras para analizar el impacto del uso de crédito sobre el retorno marginal de tierra, trabajo y fertilizantes. Encontramos que las proporciones atribuidas a trabajo y fertilizantes aumentaron considerablemente para campesinos que utilizan crédito, que la proporción del factor tierra se redujo fuertemente. La posición relativa de terratenientes tiende a deteriorarse, pero la influencia de suministradores de insumos puede incrementar. Dadas las complementaridades entre fertilizantes y trabajo, el crédito puede ser un importante instrumento para cambiar las relaciones de clase en el campo.

JEL Classification: D24, D33, Q14.

Texto completo disponible sólo en PDF

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Received: November 2003; Accepted: September 2004

* Field data for this paper is collected by a research team of the Center for Rural Development Studies (CDR) of Free University Amsterdam, in close cooperation with the Pan-American School for Agriculture “El Zamorano” and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) rural development program “Lempira Sur”.

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