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Land constraints and agricultural intensification in Ethiopia: A village-level analysis of high-potential areas

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  • Headey, Derek
  • Dereje, Mekdim
  • Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum

Abstract

Highland Ethiopia is one of the most densely populated regions of Africa and has long been associated with both Malthusian disasters and Boserupian agricultural intensification. This paper explores the race between these two countervailing forces, with the goal of inform two important policy questions. First, how do rural Ethiopians adapt to land constraints? And second, do land constraints significantly influence welfare outcomes in rural Ethiopia? To answer these questions we use a recent household survey of high-potential areas. We first show that farm sizes are generally very small in the Ethiopian highlands and declining over time, with young rural households facing particularly severe land constraints. We then ask whether smaller and declining farm sizes are inducing agricultural intensification, and if so, how. We find strong evidence in favor of the Boserupian hypothesis that land-constrained villages typically use significantly more purchased input costs per hectare and more family labor, and achieve higher maize and teff yields and higher gross income per hectare. However, although these higher inputs raise gross revenue, we find no substantial impact of greater land constraints on net farm income per hectare once family labor costs are accounted for. Moreover, farm sizes are strongly positively correlated with net farm income, suggesting that land constraints are an important cause of rural poverty. We conclude with some broad policy implications of our results.

Suggested Citation

  • Headey, Derek & Dereje, Mekdim & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2014. "Land constraints and agricultural intensification in Ethiopia: A village-level analysis of high-potential areas," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 129-141.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:48:y:2014:i:c:p:129-141
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.01.008
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    Cited by:

    1. Vandercasteelen, Joachim & Beyene, Seneshaw Tamru & Minten, Bart & Swinnen, Johan, 2018. "Cities and agricultural transformation in Africa: Evidence from Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 383-399.
    2. Kamel, Louhichi & Laura, Riesgo & Sergio, Gomez y Paloma, 2016. "Modelling farm-household level impacts of fertilizer subsidy programs on food security: The case of Ethiopia," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235927, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Issa Ouedraogo & Cheikh Mbow & Michael Balinga & Henry Neufeldt, 2015. "Transitions in Land Use Architecture under Multiple Human Driving Forces in a Semi-Arid Zone," Land, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 1-18, July.
    4. Muraoka, Rie & Matsumoto, Tomoya & Jin, Songqing & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2015. "On the Possibility of a Maize Green Revolution in the Highlands of Kenya: An Assessment of Emerging Intensive Farming Systems," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212033, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    5. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:35:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9788-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Headey, Derek & Dereje, Mekdim & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2014. "Land constraints and agricultural intensification in Ethiopia: A village-level analysis of high-potential areas," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 129-141.
    7. Houssou, Nazaire & Johnson, Michael E. & Kolavalli, Shashidhara & Asante-Addo, Collins, 2016. "Changes in Ghanaian farming systems: Stagnation or a quiet transformation?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1504, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Headey, Derek, 2015. "The Evolution of Global Farming Land: Facts and Interpretations," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212027, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    9. Abay, Kibrewossen & Hirvonen, Kalle & Minten, Bart, 2017. "Farm size, food security, and welfare: Descriptive evidence from the Ethiopian highlands," ESSP working papers 111, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    10. Desiere, Sam & D'Haese, Marijke, 2015. "Boserup versus Malthus: does population pressure drive agricultural intensification? Evidence from Burundi," 89th Annual Conference, April 13-15, 2015, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 204296, Agricultural Economics Society.
    11. Bachewe, Fantu Nisrane & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2015. "Dynamic supply response of farm households in Ethiopia:," ESSP working papers 78, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Deininger,Klaus W. & Xia,Fang & Savastano,Sara, 2015. "Smallholders? land ownership and access in Sub-Saharan Africa: a new landscape ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7285, The World Bank.
    13. Riesgo, Laura & Louhichi, Kamel & Paloma, Sergio Gomez y, 2016. "Modelling farm-household level impacts of fertilizer subsidy programs on productivity and food security: The case of Ethiopia," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 249265, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    14. Headey, Derek D. & Jayne, T.S., 2014. "Adaptation to land constraints: Is Africa different?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 18-33.
    15. Kosec, Katrina & Ghebru, Hosaena & Holtemeyer, Brian & Mueller, Valerie & Schmidt, Emily, 2016. "The effect of land inheritance on youth employment and migration decisions: Evidence from rural Ethiopia," IFPRI discussion papers 1594, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    16. Larson, Donald & Savastano, Sara & Murray, Siobhan & Palacios-Lopez, Amparo, 2015. "Are Women Less Productive Farmers? How Markets and Risk Affect Fertilizer Use, Productivity, and Measured Gender Effects in Uganda," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212032, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    17. Jayne, T.S. & Chamberlin, Jordan & Headey, Derek D., 2014. "Land pressures, the evolution of farming systems, and development strategies in Africa: A synthesis," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 1-17.
    18. repec:eee:wdevel:v:105:y:2018:i:c:p:286-298 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Schmidt, Emily & Bekele, Firew, 2016. "Rural youth and employment in Ethiopia," ESSP working papers 98, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    20. Bachewe, Fantu Nisrane & Berhane, Guush & Minten, Bart & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2015. "Agricultural growth in Ethiopia (2004-2014): Evidence and drivers:," ESSP working papers 81, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    21. Verkaart, Simone & Munyua, Bernard G. & Mausch, Kai & Michler, Jeffrey D., 2017. "Welfare impacts of improved chickpea adoption: A pathway for rural development in Ethiopia?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 50-61.
    22. Abate, Gashaw Tadesse & Rashid, Shahidur & Borzaga, Carlos & Getnet, Kindie, 2015. "Rural finance and agricultural technology adoption in Ethiopia: Does institutional design matter?:," IFPRI discussion papers 1422, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    23. Deininger, Klaus & Savastano, Sara & Xia, Fang, 2017. "Smallholders’ land access in Sub-Saharan Africa: A new landscape?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 78-92.

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