An Analysis of the Changes in Crop Production Practice of Peasant Farmers Under Increasing Population the Case of Hitosa 'Wereda' in Arsi Zone

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Addis Ababa University


The general objective of the study is to evaluate the condition of crop production practices of peasant farmers under the situation of rapid growth of population and limited land resources. Therefore it assesses the agricultural resources, patterns of rural land uses and cropping, the uses of modern crop production technologies and the farming systems of the peasants and the changes observed. Emphasis is, however, given to the impact of population growth on the land use, farming system, need to the use of modern inputs and agricultural productivity in the study area. The primary data needed in the study were acquired from field survey using questionnaire and interviews. The secondary data were obtained from base maps, and from the documents of government and non-government offices. To analyse the data statistical measures such as the mean, median, percentile, standard deviation, coefficient of variation, F and t-tests and test for ANOV A, the indices of crop concentration Crop combination and crop specialization, simple and multiple correlationlr~ression, models are used. The findings revealed that change in land use types in the last twenty years considered in response to the population growth. The cultivated lands showed an expansion rate of l.S%/yr at the expense of the grazing and other land uses. Average size ofland holding was generally found to be small and decreasing (27,7% of the sample households reported having less than one hectare). The family labour is the basis of all farm activities. The animal labour used are mainly the oxen for cultivation & threshing and the donkeys for transport purposes. However, a few ofthe peasants use tractors and combiners to supplement the animal labour. Crop rotation method and the chemical fertilizers are widely used to replenish soil fertility. Because most of the peasant farmers are aware of the benefits they get from the use of modern farm inputs, their need to the use of tractors, combiners, chemical fertilizers, selected seeds, pesticides and weed killer chemicals have grown significantly in the area. The cropping pattern was found to be dominated by the area of the cereal crops and showed an increasing dominance. In the change of the cropping pattern, the areal share of wheat increased while of the other crops decreased except of the sorghum which remained unchanged for the last two decades. The mean production amount of a household decreased by about 7.6% whereas the mean production amount that a HH obtained from one hectare offarm increased by about 29.7% as observed from 1977178 to 1997/98.Generally as it is disclosed by the study, the land holding sizes and land use patterns, the uses of human and animal labour, the uses of modern farm inputs, the patterns of cropping, and land and labour productivities showed changes within the study area. The simple correlation results for the changes in the areas of all land use types and of cultivated lands are identified to have strong and positive relations to the changes in the number of rural population. In contrast, the change in the area of grazing lands is identified to have negative relation to population growth. The analyses of variance computed for the significances of expected variations in the use of modern farm machinery and inputs within the study area confirmed that the variations in the use of chemical fertilizers and tractors to be statistically significant while of the selected seeds and combiners are not. The results of the simple correlation analyses identified positive and strong interdependence between land productivity and the four selected variables (the use of chemical fertilizers, selected seeds, tractors and combiners). The regression analysis further revealed that these four variables emerged as significant predictors. On the other hand, the results of simple correlation analyses of labour productivity and use of these modern inputs emerged as strong but negatively associated. It is worth mentioning that the four independent variables considered have contributed 99.7% and 91.5% to the respective total variances of land and labour productivities which leave 0.3% and 4.5% ofthe variances to be explained by other variables which have not been considered in the study. Hence, further research to identifY the more significant variables amongst those which have not been considered is advisable. On the basis of the overall evaluation some recommendations have been presented. The major ones are the need to restructure the farming system in general and to optimally plan the land use by making balance to the various uses according to the priority of the demand in particular; to assist the farmers improve the use of traditional and archaic farm tools; to initiate and support the peasants for the use of modern farm inputs and production technology; to study the feasible ways that help to improve the farmers' access to the use of the modern farm inputs; to introduce the animal feed that can be produced by the peasants; to improve infrastructural facilities; to attract capital investment into the area; to develop agroindustry, irrigation schemes; to integrate agriculture with other income generating occupational activities; and to strictly observe the national population policy (the family planning aspect in particular) and educate the people so as to realize balance between population and resources of the area.



Analysis of the Changes, Crop Production Practice