IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Economic and Environmental Benefits of Forage Legume Intercropping in the Mixed System: A Case Study in West Gojam, Ethiopia


  • Menale Kassie

    () (Ethiopian Development Research Institute)


Fodder shortage and land degradation in the form of soil erosion and nutrient depletion remain the major constraints to agricultural productivity in the Ethiopian highlands. Forage legumes have the possibility to provide high quality and quantity of feed, to increase soil nitrogen, to accumulate an extra income to farmers, and to reduce soil erosion when they are intercropped with cereals; therefore intercropping legumes offer a ray of hope for small-scale, resource-poor farmers in developing countries. Despite these multiple benefits, few empirical studies have been done to advance evidences highlighting the effects of intercropping forage legumes with cereals on agricultural productivity and soil conservation. The forage legume-cereal intercropping system needs to be economically feasible and needs to meet the household food requirements in order to be adopted and sustained. In this study we attempt to fill this gap by assessing both the economic and the soil conservation implications of introducing legume-cereal intercropping in the mixed farming systems of the north-western Ethiopian highlands. Using a bio-economic linear programming model we generated an optimal farm which incorporated crop production jointly with livestock production, according the mixed farming system. The model combines household surveys with experimental data. The empirical results indicate that introducing forage legumecereal intercropping into a traditional mixed farming model increases farm household income and resource productivity, and reduces soil erosion and pressure on grazing land. Farm income and resource productivity increase in the range of 52-75 percent and 10-14 percent, respectively. In addition, soil erosion and the marginal value productivity of grazing land decreases in the range of 8-9 percent and 65 percent, respectively. In a sensitivity analysis of alternative model scenarios farm income was higher and more stable for forage legume-cereal intercropping farming systems than with the traditional mixed farming model. In sum, results imply that development interventions realizing the economic and environmental potential of forage legumes will help achieve a double goal of enhancing the livelihoods of rural households and at the same time preventing land degradation.

Suggested Citation

  • Menale Kassie, 2011. "Economic and Environmental Benefits of Forage Legume Intercropping in the Mixed System: A Case Study in West Gojam, Ethiopia," Working Papers 005, Ethiopian Development Research Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:etd:wpaper:005

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein, 1999. "Soil Erosion and Smallholders' Conservation Decisions in the Highlands of Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 739-752, April.
    2. Yiridoe, Emmanuel K. & Langyintuo, Augustine S. & Dogbe, Wilson, 2006. "Economics of the impact of alternative rice cropping systems on subsistence farming: Whole-farm analysis in northern Ghana," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 102-121, November.
    3. Ehui, S. K. & Kang, B. T. & Spencer, D. S. C., 1990. "Economic analysis of soil erosion effects in alley cropping, no-till and bush fallow systems in South Western Nigeria," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 349-368.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:etd:wpaper:005. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dagmawi Atnafu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.