The Role of Crop Diversification to Household Food Security: The Case of Enderta Woreda, Tigray, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Reducing food and nutrition insecurity in the developing countries continues to be a major public policy challenge. Food insecurity has become a global challenge for policy makers particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa where the rate of population growth far exceeds the quantity and quality of food needed to feed the population. Most of poor population in Ethiopia depends on agriculture and especially small-scale farming systems as the primary source of their livelihoods. Agriculture is considered as a strong option and fundamental instrument for prompting growth and sustainable development, poverty reduction, and enhancing food security in developing countries like Ethiopia. Crop diversification has been viewed as one of the solutions which can help small holder farmers to diversify their production and thereby improve food security. This study was designed to assess the role of crop diversification to food security of smallholder farmers in Enderta woreda. Primary data was collected from 203 sample farm households selected randomly from three kebeles of the woreda. Household survey questionnaire, key informants interview and focus group discussion were used to collect the primary data. Descriptive statistics such as mean, percentage, t-test were employed to analyze the quantitative data. Ordinary least square (OLS) was used to measure the influence of crop diversification, as measured by crop diversification index, on household food security as measured by household dietary diversity score and household food insecurity access scale. Censored Tobit model was used to analyze the determinants of crop diversification in the study area. The result of the OLS model shows that crop diversification has a strong and positive impact on household food security. The OLS result also indicated that ownership of oxen has a positive impact on household food security whereas family size and distance to the markets negatively influence household food security. The result of the censored Tobit models shows that ownership of oxen, level of education of the household head and number of plots owned were the major factors that positively determine crop diversification. The result of the censored Tobit model indicted that distance to the market negatively influence crop diversification in the study area. From these results, it can be concluded that food security status of farm households can be improved through crop diversification and therefore farmers should be stimulated to more diversify their cropping activities.