A new study has found that improved chickpea adoption by farmers in Ethiopia significantly increased household income while also reducing poverty. The study found that a 10 percent increase in the area planted with improved chickpea is associated with a 12.6 percent increase in income per capita and a 12.3 percent increase in total income. The study also indicates that adopting improved chickpea varieties can reduce the probability of a household being below the US$2 poverty line.
The study found that an increasing number of farmers adopted improved varieties in the Shewa region between 2006-07 and 2013-14 seasons. “In 2006-07 only 30% of farmers planted improved chickpea. By 2013-14 this share rose to almost 80%. The area dedicated to improved chickpea moved up from 0.17 hectare average to more than 0.4 hectare by 2014. Furthermore, many households started planting chickpea, bringing the share of chickpea growers up to 90% from an initial 65%,” said Dr Kai Mausch, Scientist-Economics at ICRISAT- Kenya.
The increased input use associated with improved chickpea cultivation contributes to significantly higher yields. These increased yields allow households to sell a larger share of their production into the market. While improved varieties command only a small mark-up, the return to improved chickpea is significantly higher given the significantly larger volume of sales. All this leads to chickpea sales making up a larger share of total income for those who adopt improved varieties. “Overall, increasing access to improved chickpea appears to be a promising pathway for rural development in Ethiopia,” said Dr Mausch.
The research carried out under ICRISAT’S Tropical Legumes II project (TLII), with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, computed the impact of adoption, while accounting for possible errors from access to technology transfer and improved seed. On the basis of their observations, the authors concluded that average adoption rates for improved chickpea varieties in the rest of Ethiopia remained much lower than those in the area under the study.
However, Ms. Simone Verkaart, Junior Professional Officer Technology Transfer, ICRISAT-Kenya cautions, “While this success story looks very promising for large parts of Ethiopia, attempts to increase the coverage to other chickpea growers or to non-chickpea growing regions should be preceded by careful economic and agronomic assessments to ensure replicability. While the upsides are evidently clear to farmers, traditional knowledge and market access may differ, which could change the outcomes.”
Policies that specifically target the poorest and remove obstacles for the diffusion of improved chickpea varieties, along with efforts targeted at building partnerships along the value chain, may go a long way in promoting smallholder welfare through adoption.
Outcomes from this research has been published in the journal Food Policy: Verkaart S, Munyua GB, Mausch K and Michler DJ. 2016. Welfare impacts of improved chickpea adoption: A pathway for rural development in Ethiopia? http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2016.11.007
The study was made possible through the financial support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ICRISAT and the Netherlands Junior Professional Officer (JPO) program. The authors were supported by the Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center (DZARC) of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), and their respective institutions in conducting the study.