Seed security and agro-biodiversity in eastern Ethiopia

The DPhil thesis presents three papers investigating different aspects of how small-farmers in Eastern Ethiopia cope with risks of agricultural production.

The first article analyses whether small semi-commercial agricultural producers in the East Shewa zone of Ethiopia use crop or varietal diversity in wheat to smooth production and reduce risks. Applying an econometric approach, we find no evidence suggesting that agro-biodiversity is used as a risk management strategy.

The second paper investigates the effects of a fungal crop disease – wheat rust - on agricultural production of households in East Shewa based on original household-level panel data. Findings suggest that households’ access to disease-resistant genetic material and herbicide is limited and that wheat cultivation is reduced.  

Finally, the third paper presents a mixed methods study of a highly developed informal seed insurance network which secures access to an important agricultural resource for subsistence farmers in the West Hararghe zone. The study focuses on the institutional design of informal institution which is based on egalitarian norms and incentivizes seed assistance over food sharing.

Juxtaposing the results from geographically close, but very different regions of Eastern Ethiopia, allows us to identify differentiated policy responses to the challenges of seed security, disease management and agro-biodiversity conservation in Ethiopia and beyond.

Andrea Ruediger
Research Student