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Modern variety adoption and risk management in drought prone areas: insights from the sorghum farmers of eastern Ethiopia

Published by:
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Articles & Journals
Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Climate / Weather / Environment
Type of Risk:
Natural disasters
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk coping
Romina Cavatassi, Leslie Lipper, Ulf Narloch
aWageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Adoption rates of improved or modern varieties (MV) of sorghum in eastern Ethiopia are generally low. Although these MV may represent an effective means of coping with droughts, given their early maturing traits, landraces could prove to be more drought-tolerant and better adapted to marginal production conditions. Whether MV adoption is a risk reducing technology is very much an empirical question which this article investigates using a unique dataset from eastern Ethiopia in a year of extreme weather conditions. Results show that risk-factors coupled with access to markets and social capital drive farmers’ decisions to adopt MVs. On the one hand, it appears that farmers use MVs to mitigate moderate risks. On the other hand, farmers who have been most vulnerable to extreme weather events are less likely to use MVs suggesting that MV adoption does not necessarily represent an effective means of coping with drought. Finally, findings show that MV growers are more likely to be affected by sorghum failure once controlling for exogenous production factors.

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