Commercialization of vegetable production in Alamata Woreda, Northern Ethiopia: processes and impact uri icon

abstract

  • The Raya valley in Tigray where Alamata Woreda is located, has fertile soil, suitable climate and rich water resources to grow various crops including vegetables. Surface water from seasonal rivers/streams and small dams and ground water extracted from deep and shallow wells with various water lifting devices are the two main sources of water for irrigation in the Woreda. A participatory rural appraisal (PRA) study conducted by the Woreda stakeholders and facilitated by IPMS identified (irrigated) vegetables as a potential marketable commodity in 2005. Using the commodity value chain approach, production, input supply and marketing problems and opportunities were identified. Major problems were lack of interest partly as a result of market failure in the past, lack of agronomic and irrigation knowledge and skills resulting in lack of use of advanced agronomic inputs (e.g. seeds) and underutilization of modern irrigation facilitates (most of the deep wells established were not used and/or underutilized). Different extension approaches were used including study tours to change the mind-set and to acquire knowledge for experts and farmers. Following various production interventions, market linkages were created which resulted in better prices (from 0.70Birr/kg before 2005 to 3-5Birr/kg in the following years). Farmer to farmer communications, trainings, workshops and media coverage facilitated the further dissemination of knowledge and skills between PAs in Alamata and neighboring Woredas. As a result of these interventions, the area of irrigated onion, pepper and tomato tripled in size from 351 ha in 2004/05 to 1113 ha in 2008/09. The lion share of this increase was due to a ten fold increase in onion area from 84 ha in 2004/05 to 824 ha in 2008/09. Most of this increase took place in the spate irrigated areas where plots previously used for cereal crops (sorghum and teff) were converted to vegetables. Both women and men farmers benefited from the intervention. Many farmers managed to construct houses in town and were able to own different assets. The further expansion of the (irrigated) vegetable production in Alamata is feasible. However, more attention needs to be paid to improving productivity, especially in the spate irrigated areas since no clear evidence was found that area increase was accompanied by productivity increase, indicating lack of adequate institutional and farmers? knowledge and skills. Also adverse weather conditions during the 2008 harvesting season, resulted in considerable crop spoilage and lower prices ? indicating the risk associated with this commodity under rain-fed conditions. Finally, potential salinity problems should also be taken into account

publication date

  • 2010