Does water harvesting induce fertilizer use among smallholders? Evidence from Ethiopia
Rainfall shortage is a major production risk for smallholder farmers. Due to rainfall shortage, smallholders limit the use of modern inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds. This study investigates if water harvesting technologies (WHTs) induce fertilizer use and whether there is joint adoption of fertilizer and water harvesting technologies. Using panel data collected from Ethiopian farmers in two regions in 2005 and 2010, a random effects probit model and a bivariate probit model are estimated to investigate these two issues. Both models include variables that are hypothesized to affect fertilizer and WHT use. The findings indicate that: (1) water harvesting increases the probability of using fertilizer; (2) past WHT use positively affects the probability of current fertilizer use but past fertilizer use does not affect current WHT use; (3) total landholding, farm capital, and education significantly increase the probability of fertilizer use whereas the price of fertilizer and distance to market decrease the probability of fertilizer use; (4) there are significant regional and yearly differences in fertilizer use; and (5) growing perennial crops, and distance from natural water sources increase the probability of using water harvesting in 2010 whereas distance from markets, age and altitude decreases it. These results imply that measures encouraging water harvesting can also lift low fertilizer use among Ethiopian smallholders.
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