Smallholder agriculture and food and nutrition security: a study from south-eastern Tigray, Ethiopia

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Kahsay, Zenebe Abraha
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University College Cork
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Smallholder agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of Tigray, northern Ethiopia. Households located in the food insecure south-eastern zone rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Supplementary income is obtained from a range of off/non-farm activities. Households in the area consume a restricted diet, dominated by cereals. This study examines smallholder agriculture and food and nutrition security of rural households using mainly survey data collected in the post- and pre-harvest seasons from 400 randomly selected households across four villages in Enderta and Hintalo-Wajerat districts. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were used. Households in the study area own small areas of land (average size only 0.8 ha), but with important differences across study villages and between gender of household heads, thereby influencing food availability. Ownership of livestock has also similar patterns. Wealthier households (generally correlated with higher income groups) both produce and consume more nutrient-rich food items. Off-farm income comprises 74% of female-headed households’ income (47% for male-headed households). A number of food security indicators were calculated by village, season and gender of household head. These indicators generally showed that food insecurity is higher in the preharvest season and amongst female-headed households. Location, livestock ownership and household income were significantly associated with the main food security indicators. Education level of mothers was associated with better food security in the pre-harvest season, supporting women’s empowerment to improved nutrition. Farming practices influence dietary diversity through a combination of production for ownconsumption and income effects. The study concludes that there is a need to develop policy and specific agricultural interventions to promote more nutrition-sensitive agriculture. This implies a range of actions, including promoting women’s empowerment. There is a need for enhanced promotion of information and knowledge at household level to encourage greater dietary diversity. Multisectoral policy making and implementation need to be strengthened.
HDDS , FCS , HFIAS , CSI , Tigray , Ethiopia , Food and nutrition security , Post- and pre-harvest seasons , Off/non-farm activities , Access to food , Village (tabia)
Kahsay, Z. A. 2017. Smallholder agriculture and food and nutrition security: a study from south-eastern Tigray, Ethiopia. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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