For agricultural development to be truly transformational—such that its benefits are broad based – it is important that poor and marginalized communities, households and individuals are included in the agricultural growth process.
Significant results have been achieved over the past 5 to 10 years in the sector, particularly in terms of production and productivity gains. Such gains are the basis for agricultural transformation. Nevertheless, sustaining the gains and moving forward towards more fundamental changes in the sector requires attention to issues of inclusion of different groups of society.
Taking gender as an example, one finds that exclusion of women from the agricultural growth process may result from various conditions including women’s limited decision-making ability within the household and engagement on farm management and limited access to services such as agricultural extension and finance and inputs. This has significant implications for agricultural production as Ethiopian agriculture is predominantly smallholder organized around households, and draws on labor primarily from household members, with very limited wage labor. As such, women’s roles are critical in agricultural production. While the implications have not been fully studied, there is evidence (from a World Bank study across several African countries) that there is a productivity gap of about 23% between men and women in Ethiopia.
In addition to issues of inclusion agricultural transformation and long term productivity improvements may be disrupted due to environmental degradation and climate change. It is estimated that Ethiopia is losing 1.5 billion MT of soil every year due to soil erosion. Also, there is evidence that rainfall variability directly affects GTP growth. Promotion of productivity growth and commercialization in agriculture must therefore be carried out together with measures to safeguard and develop natural resources and to help farmers and all actors across agricultural value chains to adapt to and mitigate climate change.