C4EDC4ED

By Marija

Ethiopia | Integrated Soil Fertility Management

Picture: courtesy of A. Avdeenko / A. Bohne

Background 

In an ongoing project in cooperation with the GIZ Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Government, we analyze the impacts of improved soil fertility management methods in Ethiopia’s highlands on agricultural practices and productivity.*

The second most populated country on the African continent, Ethiopia is also one of the least urbanized countries in the world, with 80% of the population residing in rural areas (ECOSOC 2016). They mostly live in the highlands, where the overwhelming part of the cultivable land is to be found (Mulualem & Yebo 2015). Accordingly, a large share of the population (about 85%, CSA 2015) relies on agriculture as a main source of income. Despite the importance of the agricultural sector and of the natural potential of the highland region, both soil fertility and agricultural yields remain low and poverty and under-nutrition are widespread.

To increase agricultural productivity and thereby reduce farmers’ vulnerability, an integrated soil fertility management project (ISFM+) was launched in 2015 in the regions of Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray. ISFM+ focuses on soil protection and rehabilitation in the Ethiopian highlands and aims at influencing the soil characteristics in ways that optimize plant growth and improve the availability of scarce nutrients. The integrated approach chosen makes use of farmers’ own resources and farming practices, including conserving soil and water, and crop rotation in the fields. It targets wheat, maize, and teff production. Through advice, capacity building and support to Ethiopia’s agricultural extension service and agricultural bureaus, the project is expected to achieve a wider use of integrated soil fertility management technologies and increased crop yields.

Evaluation

The research approach, a randomized controlled trial (RCT), allows for rigorous assessment of the project’s impacts by comparing treatment and control micro- watersheds as units of intervention. This impact evaluation will contribute to the effectiveness of the ISFM+’s training-based program by providing knowledge on soil productivity, farmers’ attitudes toward innovative technologies, evidence of farmers already employing practices like those introduced by the project, and more generally, farmers’ agricultural approaches. The insights generated by the evaluation will thereby inform soil-protection and food-security strategies.

 

*The project has been commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

 

By Marija

Uganda | Cash-on-delivery for smallholder farmers

Background

In partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute, we conducted a randomized control trial (RCT) impact evaluation on cash-on-delivery and information on sales to enhance the capabilities of rural producer organizations in Uganda.

Dysfunctional farmer cooperatives are a main concern in Uganda and hamper rural development. Smallholder farmers in Uganda often face substantial market access barriers to selling their produce at decent prices. Rural cooperatives, in which smallholder farmers join forces and cooperate in marketing or production, can potentially help them obtain better input and/or output prices. However, these rural cooperatives have been found to fail to work effectively in several areas of Uganda. One of the reasons is the prevalence of side selling through local traders, which is weakening the cooperatives’ market power as well as group cohesion.

Evaluation

To enhance the capabilities of rural producer organizations, three interventions were implemented. The first intervention, cash-on-delivery, addresses liquidity constraints of the members and allows avoiding substantial delays in payment of the cooperative. In fact liquidity constraints can force the coffee farmers to sell their produce directly at the farm gate to itinerant traders, thereby bypassing the mediator of the cooperatives. In the innovative system set up as part of the intervention, advance payments were provided to the farmers at delivery of the harvest to the producer organization in order to increase bulking. A second intervention, information on sales, improves the reliability of the producer organization’s leaders. Finally, the combination of both interventions was also implemented. The three program implementation modalities were evaluated through a randomized control trial. Both interventions were found to help the cooperatives improve their group marketing and sales.

1 2
Ethiopia | Integrated Soil Fertility Management
Uganda | Cash-on-delivery for smallholder farmers