ESSP Working Paper 62 "Determinants and Impact of Sustainable Land and Watershed Management Investments: A Systems Evaluation in the Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia" by Emily Schmidt, Paul Chinowsky, Sherman Robinson and Ken Strzepek.
Abstract: Ongoing debate over water resource management in the Nile basin and continuing land degradation in agricultural areas of Ethiopia suggest a need for efficient mechanisms to improve agricultural output in the Blue Nile basin in Ethiopia. Numerous econometric and hydrological models have been developed to assess the effects of sustainable land and watershed management (SLWM) investments, however these models fail to address the trade-offs faced by rural farmers in maintaining such structures. This study combines household survey data that evaluates the economic determinants of program sustainability with a detailed hydrological model that explores location specific effects of SLWM structures.
Household survey analysis suggests that households that invested in SLWM infrastructure on their agricultural plots between 1992 and 2002 and subsequently maintained those structures had a 24 percent higher value of production in 2010 than farming households that did not make such SLWM investments. The location specific hydrological model analysis suggests that terraces on middle and steep slope areas have the largest benefit in terms of decreased runoff and sediment and increased agricultural yields. Utilizing the results from the econometric and hydrological model, a systems model is constructed to analyze investment packages. Results suggest that the benefit of implementing only terracing on steep and mid-slope terrain does not outweigh the cost of foregone off-farm labor opportunities nor compensate for a fall in the price of agricultural output (due to increased supply). However, more comprehensive investments (such as increased fertilizer use with SLWM) show economically significant increases in household income, suggesting that a packaged investment approach is needed to reap welfare benefits from investments in SLWM infrastructure at farm level. Download the pdf (1MB).
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ESSP Working Paper 63 "Cows, missing milk markets and nutrition in rural Ethiopia" by Hoddinott, John F., Headey, Derek and Dereje, Mekdim.
Abstract: In rural economies encumbered by significant market imperfections, farming decisions may partly be motivated by nutritional considerations, in addition to income and risk factors. These imperfections create the potential for farm assets to have direct dietary impacts on nutrition in addition to any indirect effects via income. We test this hypothesis for the dairy sector in rural Ethiopia, a context in which markets are very thin, own-consumption shares are very high, and milk is an important source of animal-based proteins and micronutrients for young children. We find that cow ownership raises children’s milk consumption, increases linear growth, and reduces stunting in children by seven to nine percentage points. However, we also find that the direct nutritional impacts of household cow ownership are less important where there is good access to local markets, suggesting that market development can substitute for household cow ownership. Download the pdf (994.8KB).
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ESSP Working Paper 61. "Hydrological modeling of sustainable land management interventions in the Mizewa watershed of the Blue Nile Basin" by Emily Schmidt and Birhanu Zemadim.
Abstract: According to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Blue Nile basin is one of the least planned and managed sub-basins of the Nile (IWMI, 2008). Previous studies have examined the impact of investments in sustainable land and watershed management (SLWM) in the Blue Nile basin derived implicitly from economic analyses (Schmidt and Tadesse 2012; Pender and Gebremedhin 2006; Holden et al. 2009; Kassie et al. 2007). However, further examination using a hydrological model that takes into account biophysical differences in terrain, investment choice and magnitude (i.e. terraces vs. bunds implemented on only steep terrain vs. middle and steep terrain) within the watershed will provide greater insight as to how specific investments improve hydrological processes, and their explicit impact on agricultural productivity.
This analysis utilizes recent hydrological and meteorological data collected from the Mizewa watershed in order to better understand the physical impact of SLWM investments. The effectiveness of the simulated conservation practices (terraces, bunds, and residue management) are evaluated using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model taking into account investment decisions on different terrain types. Simulations include: 1) terracing on steep hillsides (slopes greater than 20 degrees); 2) terracing on mid-range and steep hillsides (slopes greater than 5 degrees); 3) a mix of terracing and bunds on varying slope gradients; 4) residue management on all agricultural fields; and 5) a mix of terraces and residue management on steep and mid-range terrain where a majority of agricultural activity takes place. Simulated conservation practices are evaluated at the outlet of the Mizewa watershed by comparing model simulations that take into account the limited investments that currently exist (status quo) with simulations of increased terracing and residue management activities within the watershed.
Results suggest that the benefits of residue management practices were more important for less steep areas; while a mixed strategy of terracing on steep slopes and residue management on flat and middle slopes dramatically decreased surface runoff and erosion. A comprehensive investment of terraces and bunds throughout the watershed landscape provides the greatest reduction in surface flow and erosion; however, the type and amount of investment in SLWM have different implications with respect to labor input and utilization of agricultural land. It is important to note that although simulations suggest that a landscape-wide approach reaps the greatest long-term benefits, it is important to understand the costs of such an investment. Download the PDF
Agriculture is essential to the economies of East African countries. Climate change, with its effects on temperature and precipitation, threatens this important economic activity.
How to foster agricultural development and food security in East Africa as the effects of climate change become more serious is the subject of the study East African Agriculture and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis. The authors develop several weather-based scenarios for how climate change might affect countries in the region between now and 2050.
National contributors from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda review the scenario results for their countries and propose a variety of policies to counter the effects of climate change on agriculture and food security. These policies include greater investment in agricultural research and extension, equitable access to land and inputs such as seeds and fertilizer, expanded irrigation, and improved infrastructure. Read more at IFPRI's blog where this article was originally published.
The Ethiopia Strategy Support Program organized a day-long conference on “Towards what works in rural development in Ethiopia: Evidence on the impact of investments and policies” on Friday December 13th . The conference marked the end of the second phase of the Ethiopian Strategy Support Program, supported by USAID, DFID, and CIDA (now DFATD). The purpose of the conference was to present updated knowledge on impacts of investments in rural areas in Ethiopia, mostly based on primary data gathered from a large number of rural households. The conference was attended by almost 90 people from different sectors.
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The flagship journal of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), Agricultural Economics, released a Special Issue on Input Subsidy Programs (ISPs) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The main motivation for the special issue is to provide African policy makers and development partners with evidence and insight from high-quality research on the impact of Input Subsidy Programs (ISP) in Africa. This research is especially timely given that ten African governments spend an estimated US$1.05 billion annually annually—an average of 30 percent of their agriculture budgets—on ISPs.
While spending on ISPs has increased in recent years, there has been little research and evidence that shows that these programs have been effective. To shed light on these knowledge gaps, researchers answer four core policy questions in this special issue:
1. What impact do ISPs have on the purchase of inputs, crop yields, and food price levels?
2. Are subsidized inputs targeted to farmers who would not otherwise buy them?
3. Do ISPs handicap or encourage development of commercial input distribution?
4. Are ISPs a cost-effective way to promote agricultural development and reduce poverty relative to other public investments?
The special issue contains 12 papers, which includes country-level studies from Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zambia—all countries with prominent ISP programs. Read more at IFPRI's blog where this article was originally published.
A call for abstracts has been launched for the 2014 GTAP Conference in Dakar, Senegal. The conference theme will be “New Challenges in Food Security, Trade and Economic Vulnerability.” Read more…
This article was originally posted on IFPRI's Insights website.
Can insurance help Ethiopian farmers survive the droughts that are likely to come?
Recently, scientists uncovered the inconvenient truth that drought in eastern Africa is likely here to stay. They placed the blame squarely on climate change—namely, on the linkage between the warming Indian Ocean and decreased rainfall over the Horn of Africa. Given the ubiquity of drought in the region, how can farmers cope?
ESSP Research Note 27 "The impact of the promotion of row planting on farmers’ teff yields in Ethiopia" by Vandercasteelen, Joachim, Dereje, Mekdim, Minten, Bart and Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum.
Summary of ESSP Working Paper 60. We assess the impact of the promotion of row planting at reduced seed rate on farmers’ teff yields in Ethiopia. Results indicate that the program to scale-up row planting, on average, has a positive but moderate effect on teff yield. These findings, however, are in contrast with larger yield increases found on village demonstration plots, in more controlled settings, and with the expectations of teff farmers. The differences are linked to problems in the implementation of the program and of its recommendations, to methodological issues, and likely to over-optimism on the potential of row planting in real farm settings. Download the pdf (348.3KB).
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ESSP Working Paper 60 "Scaling-up Adoption of Improved Technologies" by Vandercasteelen, Joachim, Dereje, Mekdim, Minten, Bart and Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum.
Abstract: Adoption of yield-increasing technologies is seen as a key driver to increase agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is, however, a lack of empirical evidence on the impact of programs aiming to scale-up the adoption of improved technologies from research settings to the farm level. To fill this gap, this paper assesses the impact of the promotion of a new agricultural technology, i.e. row planting at reduced Continue reading