Discussion Paper

Sustainable Agricultural Practices and Agricultural Productivity in Ethiopia: Does Agroecology Matter?

May 6, 2011 | Menale Kassie, Precious Zikhali, John Pender, Gunnar Kohlin

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


This paper uses data from household- and plot-level surveys conducted in the highlands of the Tigray and Amhara regions of Ethiopia to examine the contribution of sustainable land-management practices to net values of agricultural production in areas with low- and high-agricultural potential. A combination of parametricand nonparametric estimation techniques is used to check result robustness. Both techniques consistently predict that minimum tillage is superior to commercial fertilizers—as are farmers’ traditional practices without use of commercial fertilizers—in enhancing crop productivity in the low-agricultural potential areas. In the highagricultural potential areas, by contrast, use of commercial fertilizers is superior to both minimum tillage andfarmers’ traditional practices without commercial fertilizers. The results are found to be insensitive to hidden bias. Our findings imply a need for careful agroecological targeting when developing, promoting, and scaling up sustainable land-management practices.