Conference name, dates, place

International Conference on Development Studies in Ethiopia, July 11-12, 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Document Type


Presentation Date



This paper addresses the challenge of reducing poverty, food insecurity, and natural resource degradation, and abolishing recurrent famines in Ethiopia. With a population of about 65 million, Ethiopia is one of the largest and most populated countries in Africa. Ethiopia can be regarded as a microcosm of Africa due to its vast and diverse agro-ecology and population. Physically, it ranges from 200 meters to over 4000 meters above sea level. It has about 18 agro-ecological, zones and diverse population of some 85 ethnic or linguistic groups. The paper begins by addressing the conceptual relationship among food insecurity, poverty and natural resource degradation based on an extensive review of pertinent literature. The basic challenges of food insecurity-poverty- natural resource degradation discussed include: The challenge of developing and managing human resource and population growth, the challenge of developing and reforming institutions of governance, and the challenge of adopting poverty-focused economic growth policies. The relevance of agricultural and employment based development strategy is emphasized, given the fact that 85 percent of the population is currently engaged in agriculture and related activities. But, for such a strategy to succeed there is a need to adopt productive and sustainable technologies and institutions. One of the key points made is that farmers must find technologies to be profitable in order to adopt them successfully, and that such technologies can also improve sustainability. The paper further emphasizes the need to develop institutions that are incentive compatible, such as land tenure, agricultural research, and credit markets to enable and to complement the successful adoption of appropriate technologies by farmers.

The paper finally draws some broad policy implications by pointing out the critical need to adopt institutions and policies that have a positive-sum or win-win outcome. These policies include investment in agricultural research and technology; the development of institutions that provide access to modern inputs and extension services; the removal of marketing and related policy distortions; and the promotion of policies that counter externalities or spillover effects of production or those that minimize environmental costs by reducing natural resource degradation. The need to adopt a land tenure system that provides security by vesting property or legal ownership rights to farmers aimed agricultural development is one of the key policy implications of the study.