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Project Description

The economics of on-farm conservation of crop diversity in
Ethiopia: incentives, attribute preferences and opportunity
costs of maintaining local varieties of crops


Water, soil, air and genetic resources are the four major natural resources that
society depends upon for food, clothing, shelter, and medicament. The
sustainable use and conservation of biological resources is a topical research,
conservation and development issue. Ethiopia is among the economically poor
countries but still rich in biological diversity. Even though the country has an
enormous genetic resource stock, the diversity is dwindling due to technologyinduced
incentive forces.

Among the different ex situ and in situ options for conserving these resources,
conservation on farmers’ fields has recently received a considerable attention
by governments, NGOs and the international community. Many issues
regarding its implementation are yet unknown though. Since farmers are the
major actors in on-farm conservation, their contribution to crop diversity and
the role of diversity to their livelihoods have to be understood. Hence, the
principal objectives of the study are to:

• examine the farm household related contextual factors motivating
farmers to diversify on local varieties;
• study farmers’ variety attribute preferences and examine their demand for
local varieties; and
• quantify the opportunity costs of growing local varieties and analyze the
contextual factors affecting the opportunity costs.

To address its objectives, the study uses household survey data from Ethiopia
concerning coffee, sorghum and wheat. It examines the above objectives using
a variety of microeconomic theories (like the characteristic model, the random
utility theory, theory of impure public goods, and the theory of joint production)
and econometric techniques (like poisson regression, multinomial logit and
switching regression).

The results show that local varieties are maintained de facto mainly by poor,
subsistent and marginalized farmers with limited access to markets, roads, and
extension. Farmers’ multiple concerns, yield insurance considerations, land
heterogeneity, relative importance of sorghum and coffee, and labor endowment
have been found to be the most important factors promoting the use of multiple
varieties of local varieties. On the contrary, farmers’ experience in improved
varieties is found to be detaching the link between de facto on-farm
conservation and household livelihood strategies.

The attribute preference analysis shows that farmers in more accessible (to
markets and road) areas with less income-shock vulnerability conserve high
yielding and marketable varieties de facto. On the contrary, varieties with more
stable yield and environmentally adaptable features are most demanded by
farmers with higher income-shock vulnerability found in less accessible
localities. The opportunity costs analysis shows that for both sorghum and
wheat, opportunity costs increase with better access to markets, extension, labor
and output prices. On the contrary the opportunity costs decline with better
quality plots and input prices.

Start Date: 10/2000 End Date: 12/2003
Duration: 3 Jahre Status: concluded
Bupervisor: Prof. Dr. Karin Holm-Müller
Funding: DAAD scholarship, research funds from BMZ / GTZ
Contact Person: Edilegnaw Wale


  • Edilegnaw, W.Z. and D. Virchow (Forthcoming). Crop diversity as the derived outcome of farmers' survival first motives in Ethiopia: what role for on-farm conservation of sorghum genetic resources? Contributed paper to be presented at the 25th conference of the International Agricultural Economists Association to be held in Durban, South Africa, August 17-22 August, 2003.

  • Edilegnaw, W.Z. and D. Virchow (Forthcoming). Economic analysis of farmers' incentives to diversify on native varieties in Ethiopia: an input to design in-situ conservation of sorghum diversity. Paper presented at the First International Conference on the Ethiopian Economy held from January 3 to 5, 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ethiopian Economic Association.

  • Edilegnaw, W.Z., J. Mburu and D. Virchow (forthcoming). Incentives, opportunity costs and contract design for on-farm conservation in Ethiopia. Paper presented at the Third BioEcon Workshop on Contract Mechanisms for Biodiversity Conservation, Montpellier, held from May 22 - 25, 2003.

  • Edilegnaw, W.Z. (Forthcoming). The opportunity cost of growing traditional wheat varieties: implications for the design of targeting principles for adoption of improved varieties in Ethiopia. Paper presented at the National Workshop on Technological Changes in Ethiopian Agriculture, November 30, 2001, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

  • Wale, Edilegnaw Z. (2000). The Challenges in the Search for Efficient and Sustainable Rural Credit Institutions and Their Policy Implications in Ethiopia. Paper Presented at the Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Society of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, forthcoming.

  • Wale, Edilegnaw Z. (1997). Income Inequality and Poverty During Structural Adjustment: The Case of Ghana. M.Sc. Thesis, Department of Development Economics, Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 01, 2017