Reversing degradation of arable lands in Southern Ethiopia uri icon


  • The Ethiopian highlands are affected by deforestation and degraded soils, which have eroded the resource base and aggravated the repeated food shortages caused by drought. Although the Highlands occupy 44% of the total area of the country, 95% of the land under crops is located in this area, which is home to 90% of the total population and 75% of livestock (SCRP, 1996). Declining vegetative cover and increased levels of farming on steep slopes have eroded and depleted soils in the area, so that soil degradation is now a widespread environmental problem. Farmers also have to cope with nutrient mining caused by insufficient application of fertilisers, shorter fallow periods and low levels of soil organic matter. The research discussed in this paper was conducted in Gununo, in the Bolosso Sore district (Areka) of Wollayta Zone in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. Gununo is situated about 430 km south west of Addis Ababa. Over the last thirty years, governmental and non-governmental institutions have made various attempts to restore the fertility of degraded arable land, with initiatives such as the Wollayta Agricultural Development Unit (WADU), set up in 1971 to provide extension and credit services for farmers in the southern highlands of Wollayta. Operational until 1982, WADU demonstrated, popularised and subsidised packages of mineral fertiliser, improved varieties of seeds, and pesticides. Crop yields doubled as a result of its activities, but when subsidies were phased out in the 1980s and the price of inputs rose, the use of mineral fertilisers and pesticides declined sharply. In 1982, theSwiss supported the launch of the Soil Conservation Research Programme (SCRP), which ran until 1993, developing and disseminating soil and water conservation technologiesin Wollayta

publication date

  • 2001