ACCESS TO SMALL-SCALE IRRIGATION AND FARM HOUSEHOLDS? CROP CHOICE DECISION IN KILTE-AWLAELO WOREDA OF EASTERN TIGRAY
Abstract

Author(s): Gabriel Temesgen

Policy discourses around agricultural transformation tend to separate producers into different types of farm (small farms, large farms) growing different types of crops (staple crops, cash crops) w it h simple distinction made between “subsistence” and “commercial” or “export” agriculture. Transforming the subsistence-oriented production system into a market-oriented production system as a way to increasing the smallholder farmer’s income and thus its welfare outcomes, and reducing rural poverty, has been in the policy spotlight of many developing countries, including Ethiopia. In this paper I attempted to demonstrate how access to irrigation determines household’s decision to allot their agricultural land to the production of either staple crop or cash crops in irrigated compared to rainfed systems. By doing so the paper identifies the role of irrigation in share of land allotted to cash crop production. The results from the sample t-test indicate that irrigation contributes significantly to increase in cash crop production by inducing shifts in farmers cropping mix. Analyzing household data from Kilte-Awlaelo woreda in Eastern Tigray, I found that having access to irrigation, income, credit and number of oxen along with other factors determine the crop choice model in favour of the production of high value crops. While age of the head and non-farm income are other determinant factors that have negative impact on the production of cash crops. Looking beyond purely the agricultural activities of a household, having access to irrigation highlights the importance attached to the profit motive within the farm households. Hence, this paper concludes with implication for policy to integrate farm households’ for those who don’t allot their plot to cash crop with markets if additional funds for agricultural research activities dealing with investments in irrigation projects are made. Key words: Access to irrigation, crop choice, GLM model, Kilte-Awlaelo woreda

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