Policy Analysis for Sustainable Land Management and Food Security in Ethiopia: A Bioeconomic Model with Market Imperfections Food Security in Ethiopia

Soil fertility and the lack of fertilizer use in Africa are frequently discussed topics. The problems of land degradation and low agricultural productivity, which result in food insecurity and poverty, are particularly severe in the rural highlands of Ethiopia. In many areas, a downward spiral of land degradation and poverty appears to be occurring. Finding solutions to these problems requires identifying effective entry points for farmers, governments, and civil society organizations, and understanding the potential impacts and tradeoffs that are likely to arise from alternative interventions. This report seeks to improve that understanding, using a bioeconomic model of land management and agricultural production developed for a community that is fairly typical of the situation in the Ethiopian highlands. The report assesses the potential impacts of several policy options on small farmers’ land management, productivity, food security, and poverty—including increased access to fertilizer credit, food-for-work programs, other off-farm employment opportunities, and promotion of tree planting on uncultivated land. The authors find that increased use of fertilizer credit could help to increase agricultural productivity, food security, and income, but could undermine farmers’ incentives to invest in soil and water conservation, leading to greater land degradation. Increased employment opportunities through food-for-work or other measures can help to substantially increase household incomes, but would likely reduce food production and soil conservation, unless such measures are linked to conservation requirements. Promotion of tree planting on degraded land could increase incomes significantly without compromising food production or soil conservation, and, if combined with conservation incentives through food-for- work or other programs, could result in improved land management as well as increased incomes and food security. These findings should be useful to policymakers and others seeking to improve land management and reduce poverty in Ethiopia and other countries where such problems are severe. Beyond this, the modeling approach developed by Stein Holden, Bekele Shiferaw, and John Pender can be usefully adapted and applied in many other African settings.

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0-89629-145-6 (Other)
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Research Report

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-04

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