THE ROLE OF LIVESTOCK IN MITIGATING LAND DEGRADATION, POVERTY AND CHILD MALNUTRITION IN MIXED FARMING SYSTEMS: THE CASE OF COFFEE-GROWING MIDLANDS OF SIDAMA - ETHIOPIA
Central Technical Unit, Directorate General for Cooperation and Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via S. Contarini 25,00194
Rome - Italy
- to diversify production,
- to distribute labour and harvest better throughout the year as well as distribute tasks among the different components of the household (HH),
- to recycle waste products within the system, preventing nutrient losses,
- to minimize the risk and the effects of livestock and crop pests;
- to improve indigenous husbandry techniques and knowledge, hence
- to intensify and control more efficiently input - output flows, increasing productivity and minimizing risks.
- describe the main features and constraints of the prevalent farming system in the midland:
- identify key determinants of child malnutrition, with particular emphasis on food security and HH economics.
- the results of JNSP activities in the area, notably a performed baseline survey and ongoing regular growth-monitoring sessions;
- the direct involvement of local community workers (i.e., community development, health and agricultural workers) also in order to emphasize the intersectoral and participatory approach of the exercise.
- rapid rural appraisal,
- HH questionnaires, and
- direct observations.
- Rapid rural appraisal techniques were adapted from Conway (1985) and developed in order to analyse livestock productivity, HH economics and market prices in a better way (Ghirotti, 1992). During meetings with farmers, results were interpreted and discussed with the assistance of community workers.
- 102 heads of HH, out of the 109 originally selected, were interviewed in four selected villages of the midlands: Telamu, Sedeka, Weinenata and Ferro. Data on age-sex distribution of the interviewed households are in Figure 2. These villages were involved in the programme (JNSP) activities and the sample was drawn from a list of HH's. All the interviews were performed in the local language through a trained interpreter during house-to-house visits. They took place in August, a period which corresponds with the beginning of the new Sidama traditional year and the end of the Ethiopian calendar. It was then easier for the farmer to recall events of the previous year. The methodology was tested in a fifth village (Wondo). The results of this pilot trial were not included in the study.
- At the end of each interview, some selected features (e. g., land plot size and conditions, type and quantity of cultivated crops, number and type of livestock owned) were verified utilizing HH conditions, as well as ownership of a functioning radio set and type of bed, as wealth indicators. The previous year's coffee production of each HH was checked at the local Peasant associations (PAs) where the harvest had to be sold.
- child malnutrition is associated with the income level of the HH,
- it is also associated with the degree of efficiency in land utilization.
The average HH size is 6.5 persons (S. D. = 2.24). Its composition is given in Figure 2. Polygamy was found in 19 HHs. Three farms were led by a woman. 95.1% of the farmers cultivate less than one hectare of land (see table 1). The average land plot is 0. 4 ha. Its size is not associated with income (P>0. 1). The recorded population density in the area is 525 people/Km2 (see Table 2).
- The prevalent farming system of the midlands of Sidama is under stress mainly because of burgeoning human population. Symptoms are not only the high proportion of children acutely or chronically affected by malnutrition but also the progressive degradation of resources in an environment once extremely fertile. Land erosion is commonly observed by farmers who consider it a major problem though in some plots nutrients surplus, as unused manure, was observed. Hurni (1988) classified soil erosion in Sidama as medium (20–40%). Pastureland is shrinking and degrading in its botanical composition. Most of the abundant water resources are now polluted.
- In order to buffer the progressive crisis, and given the presence of markets for cash crops and dairy products, the mixed system in Sidama midlands is rapidly evolving into specialization. The area is among the richest in Ethiopia (MOA, 1984). Because of their positive role as a source of cash in the HH economy, coffee and chat plants are gradually replacing food crops in the garden such as ensete, yam and maize. Nowadays, food is the main expenditure while in the 1970s it was clothing (Ayele, 1975; Hamer, 1987). The latter author, comparing HH income and expenditure balances between the 1960s and 1970s, points out that a sign of the vulnerability of the Sidama productive system today under stress is the increasing imbalance in favour of expenditures which can only be partially covered by previous years' savings. However, further specialization will reduce the flexibility of the system and make it more vulnerable because of its heavy dependency on remote markets beyond the reach of farmers' control (particularly in the case of coffee).
- The situation in Sidama could somehow be considered intermediate between what was observed in the Rwanda highlands (von Braun et al., 1991) and the positive Machakos case, Kenya (English et al., 1992). Nevertheless, Sidama has less marketing opportunities than Machakos and the enrolment rates for primary schools reported from Ethiopia may reduce the possibility of off-farm employment, for local farmers. As stated by von Braun et al. (1991), since rapid population growth contributes significantly to rural poverty, areas under such pressure may build their economic sustainability less and less upon agriculture alone. National land reforms have to be carefully designed and monitored to avoid low income HHs, in order to pay their debts, giving away their plots to well off farmers.
- The main underlying factor of malnutrition in children of Sidama is poverty. The parallel study carried out in the same area showed that child care and mother behaviour is not a major determinant of the phenomenon (Zagaria N., personal communication). Although child mortality is higher in poor HHs, when analysing the nutritional status of the siblings of infants included in the study and comparing it with the results of the present investigation, it came out that the protective effect of the family income on children decrease soon after they are weaned. Also wealthy HHs have stunted or underweight older children, though in a lower proportion than poor families (Ghirotti M., Zagaria N. and Tekle E., unpublished results).
|cultivated land (hectare)||frequency|
|cattle/people||0. 65||0. 65||0. 48|
|small rumin. /people||1||0. 14||0. 11|
|equines/people||0. 18||0. 04||0. 02|
|small rumin. /Km2||32.7||34.6||55.4|
|crops||no of HHs||crops||no. of HHs|
|species||no of HHs||total number in the sample|
|Calving %||Mortality %||Off take %|
|Estimated household income|
|<1,100 E. birr||>1,100 E. birr|
|E. Birr/0. 1 hectare|
|well nourished children||4||15||38|
% of the different age-sex group in the interviewed households, average value