Determinants of agricultural and land management practices and impacts on crop production and household income in the highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia.
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Pender, J.; Gebremedhin B. 2008. Determinants of agricultural and land management practices and impacts on crop production and household income in the highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia. Journal of African Economies. 17(3): 395-450.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/854
This paper investigates the land management practices used in the highlands of Tigray, northern Ethiopia, the factors influencing them and their implications for crop production and income. Several factors commonly hypothesised to have a major impact on land management and agricultural production—including population pressure, small landholdings, access to roads and irrigation and extension and credit programmes—are found to have limited direct impact on crop production and income, though most affect the intensity of production. The increase in farming intensity due to these factors has limited impact on value of crop production and income due to low marginal product of labour in crop production, limited productivity impact of inputs such as fertiliser in the moisture-stressed environment of Tigray and limited adoption of such inputs. We find that profitable opportunities exist to increase agricultural production and achieve more sustainable land management in the highlands of Tigray. These opportunities include improvement of crop production using low-external input investments and practices such as stone terraces, reduced tillage and reduced burning. The comparative advantage of people in the Tigray highlands is apparently not in input-intensive cereal crop production but more in such low-input approaches and in alternative livelihood activities such as improved livestock management and non-farm activities. As a result, greater emphasis on developing these alternatives in agricultural extension—as the government of Tigray has been pursuing more recently with its extension programme—and other development programmes is needed. Food crop production should not be ignored in the development strategy, but more prudent use of external inputs such as fertiliser and improved seeds, and greater emphasis on low external input sustainable land management practices, would be helpful.