A chickpea farmer in Ethiopia.

Two-fold increase in varietal adoption in seven years – a chickpea tale from Ethiopia

A chickpea farmer in Ethiopia.

A chickpea farmer in Ethiopia.

Adoption of improved chickpea varieties increased more than two-fold in seven years, shows data from more than 600 households in Ethiopia. “In just seven years, the percentage of households growing the new varieties rose from 30% to 80%. Improved chickpea varieties are assumed to be a key pro-poor and environmentally friendly technology,” state the authors of the study ‘A recipe for success? Learning from the rapid adoption of improved chickpea varieties in Ethiopia’.

The authors, whose study was published in the ‘International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability’ suggest that the case of improved chickpea adoption in Ethiopia demonstrates how new technologies can be made acceptable to the smallholder farmer.

The study questions the introduction of technologies that make big tradeoffs; the authors argue that smallholder farmers will not adopt new technologies unless innovations come with significant benefits.

For the study, researchers Simone Verkaart, Kai Mausch, Lieven Claessens and Ken E Giller analyzed data collected in the Shewa region located in the heart of Ethiopia. The capital city of Addis Ababa falls in the region. Data was collected during the Tropical Legumes II Project, led by ICRISAT, through a survey of households in 2006-07, 2009-10 and 2013-14.

The authors showed that rising domestic and export demand, higher price of kabuli varieties over desi varieties which were earlier cultivated by farmers, among others, drove the adoption of newer varieties.

Researchers also depicted the role of household traits, like education levels, in determining adoption. Despite the increase in input costs when new varieties were taken up for cultivation, the adoption rates were high as farmers anticipated higher returns. The study linked adoption of improved varieties with reduced household poverty.

“People will only adopt a new technology if they expect benefits from it. As adoption involves risks, learning and investments, these benefits need to be substantial, particularly in the case of resource-poor smallholders. In the end, only innovations that clearly outperform locally available technologies and manifest limited downside risks are likely to be adopted on a large scale,” the study concludes.

This study was made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study can be accessed at http://oar.icrisat.org/11035/

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