A working paper by Gebremedhin Woldewahid, Berhanu Gebremedhin, Kahsay Berhe and Dirk Hoekstra on Shifting towards market-oriented irrigated crops development as an approach to improve the income of farmers: Evidence from northern Ethiopia was released on 5 May 2011.
Rainfed crop production in Ethiopia’s semi-arid areas is associated with extreme rainfall variability which occasionally leads to complete crop failure. Most of the farmers in the Atsbi-Womberta district of Eastern Tigray region in northern Ethiopia are classified as food insecure. To improve farmers’ livelihoods, interventions targeted at resource conservation and better use of water for market-oriented irrigated crops development have been promoted.
This paper analyses the process and outcomes of rural communities shifting towards market-oriented irrigated crops development based on diversification into high value irrigated crops, a value chain approach, and demand driven, participatory and knowledge-based extension. Results show that farmers gradually shifted to non-cereal, more market-oriented irrigated crops, in which the share of market-oriented irrigated crops increased from 27% of the total irrigated land in 2004 to 89% in 2009. Furthermore, average incomes in beneficiary households increased more than those in non-beneficiary households. This suggests that investments in resource conservation can be enhanced with short-term income-generating and market-linked activities.