Annual Forum Papers

Alleviating Rural Poverty through Efficient Small Holders Farming Systems in Ethopia: Relevance of Macro Policies

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): DK Grover; Anteneh Temesgen
  • Countries and Regions: Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Ethiopia is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. The country had a real per capita GDP of less than US $100 in 1995, and over 60 per cent of its population lives in absolute poverty. The problem of rural poverty and underdeveloped agriculture are closely linked with both micro as well as macro dimensions. To tackle the challenges of poverty in Ethiopia, the policies need to be initiated both macro and micro in nature and especially the macro-micro linkages are extremely crucial. In order to formulate and implement the macro policies effectively, there is an urgent need to first understand the ground realities of the Ethiopian society in general and of agricultural economy in particular. The micro-level study has been conducted in North Wollo zone, situated in the north-eastern part of the country. The linear programming model was used to study the existing farm income and scope of improvement through optimal and alternative plans. The optimal solutions in both base model and alternative optimal plan resulted in an increase in gross margin. This was obtained by using improved seed with fertilizer. Thus, the availability of improved seed, fertilizer, working capital and other inputs is crucial, i.e. modern inputs should be delivered at right time and place with a reasonable cost, so that all farmers can afford to use it. Agricultural and poverty related macro policies and strategies were reviewed to highlight that how effectively the ground realities of smallholders were addressed through the macro level government agricultural policy initiatives in Ethiopia. The utilization of improved seeds has not exceeded 2 per cent of the overall seed requirements of the country. Hence, pragmatic seed policy needs to be formulated and implemented effectively to make available improved seeds to the farmers for improving their income and reducing rural poverty. The macro fertilizer policy should be designed to encourage the farmers to make use of this crucial input for raising their income and reducing poverty. Contrary to it, the present macro policy of decontrolled fertilizer has discouraged the farmers to adopt crops with fertilizers. The credit extended by Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has been increasing yet it should be taken up on priority at macro level in order to improve the economic conditions of rural folk and hence reducing the poverty in the country. The Small Scale and Micro Industry Development Strategy (SSIMD) and related programs initiated by Government of Ethiopia are very much in line with the micro level requirements. Such efforts must be further strengthened for generating rural non-farm employment and hence tackling the problem of rural poverty in the country. On scarce land, improved technology needs to be made available to farmers through macro policies for intensive utilization of the existing land. Besides, government and NGO's should promote subsidiary activities requiring less land such as poultry and bee keeping. Land-use-planning needs to be initiated to advise the smallholders to use their scarce land only for most desired enterprises and abandon the practice of growing trees like eucalyptus. Besides, Intensive Agricultural Technology Dissemination Programs needs to be chalked out and implemented to improve the efficiency of smallholders farming systems in terms of increasing farm income and reducing rural poverty in Ethiopia.