Published in Cornell Soil and Water Lab Publication, January 1, 2009. 19 pages. Copyright © 2009 by the authors.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Charles F. Nicholson was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Many developing countries implement programs and policies to increase or maintain soil fertility, with the objectives of increased crop yields and decreased poverty. However, few countries give emphasis to the biological management of soil fertility (BMSF) compared to more traditional approaches. Ethiopia emphasizes the use synthetic fertilizers to increase food security and reduce poverty, with little attention to BMSF. This paper examines the long term fertilizer consumption and agricultural productivity response trend and discusses the potential for BMSF to promote agricultural productivity and reduce poverty in Ethiopia. The paper also discusses the Economics and Policy Context for BMSF for the well functioning of the ecosystem. To do so, we used long-term fertilizer consumption and crop productivity national data as well as data from several studies carried in Amhara Region near Bahir Dar. The methods include analysis of soil chemical properties for various land uses (crops, pastures, and forest) household surveys, focus group discussions and a review of pertinent literature. Aggregate data indicate increasing fertilizer use but stagnant crop yields. The lowest carbon and nitrogen levels in soil are for crop land, followed by grassland and forest. Continuous cultivation, removing crop residue and using cow dung for cooking rather than fertilization probably are responsible for the low values on cropland. At 1.49 percent threshold of carbon content, crop yields cannot be optimized through use of synthetic fertilizer alone. The household survey and focus group discussions suggest that farmers use of synthetic fertilizer to be minimal due to many and complicated factors. Surveys also indicated that all productive land in surveyed watershed was under cultivation, limiting the potential to increase crop production through expanding cultivated area. Thus, technologies and practices to increase yield per ha are needed. BMSF should be investigated further for its potential to increase agricultural production in Ethiopia, to reduce poverty and to achieve food security.
Agribusiness | Agricultural and Resource Economics | Business