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Impact of Technology on Wheat Production in Bale Highlands, Ethiopia: The Case of Smallholder Farmers

Mengistu KETEMA AREDO student laureate

°1973 Ethiopia
Master’s in Agricultural Economy, Alemaya University, Ethiopia, 2003

Impact of Technology on Wheat Production in Bale Highlands, Ethiopia: The Case of Smallholder Farmers

This study is a M.Sc. thesis written at Alemaya University in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a country contending with great poverty and periodic famine. It regularly receives great quantities of food aid. It is essential that food production in Ethiopia itself increases and becomes much more stable.
After an extensive and valuable study of the literature Mengistu Ketema Aredo has collected the data in his thesis from 60 farmers who cultivate the old varieties of wheat and 62 farmers who grow the new improved varieties in the Bale Highlands. A thorough econometric analysis is applied to this dataset, with an estimate of Cobb-Douglas production functions. This gives the total variation in productivity in its determining components. It shows that 55% of the difference in productivity can be attributed to the new varieties of wheat (24%) and the associated inputs (31%) – mainly herbicides and fertilizers (15,5% and 11%). With the new varieties and inputs the farmers produce on average 925 kg more wheat per hectare – not so much at first sight but very significant in Ethiopia, given that this also means a saving of Birr 279 (28 euros) per hectare. With the new varieties without the associated inputs, 400 kg more wheat is still produced. This demonstrates the importance of agricultural research.
In his thesis Mr Ketema Aredo also attaches great importance to the institutional factors that limit agricultural production, the prices of wheat and inputs, and the lack of improved seed for sowing and fertilizers.
He concludes with important policy recommendations and emphasizes that improved farming technology and institutions are the keys to food security and the fight against poverty in Ethiopia.

report by Prof. Eric Tollens, Centre for Agricultural and Food Economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium