Agricultural productivity in the highlands of Ethiopia is threatened by severe land degradation, resulting in significant reductions in agricultural GDP. In order to mitigate ongoing erosion and soil nutrient loss in the productive agricultural highlands of the country, the government of Ethiopia initiated a Sustainable Land Management Program (SLMP) targeting 209 woredas (districts) in six regions of the country. This study evaluates the impact of SLMP on the value of agricultural production in select woredas by using a panel survey from 2010 to 2014. Whereas previous studies have used cross-sectional data and short timeframe field trials to measure sustainable land management (SLM) effects on agricultural productivity, this analysis exploits data collected over four years to assess impact. The results of this analysis show that participation by farmers in SLMP, regardless of the number of years of participation in the program, is not associated with significant increases in value of production. This may be due to several reasons. First, similar to previous studies, it is possible that longer term maintenance is necessary in order to experience significant benefits. For example, Schmidt and Tadesse (2014) report that farmers must maintain SLM for a minimum of seven years to reap benefits in value of production. Second, this analysis finds that value of production, as well as SLM investments, increased significantly in both treatment and non-treatment areas over the study period. Previous research has found that non-treatment neighbors learn from nearby program areas, and adopt technologies similar to programmed areas, which would dilute the impact measurement of program effects (Bernard et al. 2007; Angelucci and DiMaro 2010). Finally, it is important to note that kebeles that were not selected in the SLMP, but are downstream relative to a targeted kebele may receive indirect benefits through reduced flooding, increased water tables, etc. Thus, the impact of the SLMP may be underestimated in this analysis if non-program kebeles are benefiting indirectly from the program.
Schmidt, Emily and Tadesse, Fanaye. 2017. The sustainable land management program in the Ethiopian highlands: An evaluation of its impact on crop production. Washington, D.C. and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI). http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/131114