Policy making in a federal context: views from the regions on future agricultures in Ethiopia

Course ID
Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA)
Amdissa Teshome

Policy-making in Ethiopia is generally characterised as ‘top down’. This paper argues that a genuine bottom-up policy process is possible – and preferable. It describes a 4- step policy process that has been developed, piloted and applied in six regions of the country. The process also generated indicative ideas on the future pathways for agriculture.

Step 1 of the process is consultation with selected communities in Tigray, Oromia, Amhara, Benshangul-Gumuz, Afar and SNNPR. A cross-section of community members were consulted on (i) future pathways for agriculture in their communities and (ii) cross-cutting issues such as education, gender and environment. Step 2 is a validation and enrichment process with researchers, academics, practitioners in agriculture and other sectors in the six regions. Step 3 is the dissemination process, whereby a variety of media are used to inform policy makers and the general public. Step 4 is policy engagement and influencing.

The consultations were carried out based on four broad pathways for agriculture. These are: (i) intensification (ii) diversification (iii) commercialisations and (iv) depopulation.

The findings suggest that:
(i) Although there has been a policy push since the 1960, intensification has not led to sustained increases in productivity and production, primarily because of policy constraints: inadequate access to input and output markets and under-developed irrigation practises. The message is that the government should take intensification seriously and consider fertiliser subsidy at least on targeted basis.

(ii) Diversification has not received a major policy push in the past. Presently, there is evidence that diversification (within agriculture) has received policy attention (re: PASDEP) and is also practiced on the ground in selected regions.

(iii) Like intensification, commercialisation has been a policy agenda since the 1960s, but was more or less dropped during the Derg regime and is more recently high on the agenda. The unresolved policy dilemma is the contention between large commercial farms and smallholder farming. The present government has vowed to promote both. However, smallholders face numerous constraints (both supply and demand-side) to full integration into the market. The policy implication is that with commercialisation land consolidation becomes inevitable and the government should be prepared for this.

(iv) ‘Depopulation’ is a process of easing pressure on rural land by creating opportunities elsewhere through small town development, migration in search of employment and urbanisation. This process is evident in some of the regions but less evident in others.

Among the cross-cutting issues examined, the relationship between education and agriculture was found to be the most complex. (i) Today’s educated professionals largely come from a farming background but never went back to farming (the brain drain from agriculture). (ii) Tomorrow’s educated professionals (youth and children) have no desire to go back to farming, thereby continuing the brain drain. (iii) Increased enrolment, particularly of girls, is welcome but it is adding to women’s burden and in some regions the community rejected full day education, even threatening to withdraw their children.

Policy recommendations include: (i) Government should adopt a genuine policy consultation process (such as that described in this paper) that leaves no-one out, and move away from ‘conference style’ consultations; (ii) some development goals are likely to contradict each other, and policy processes should articulate these contradictions and devise strategies for addressing them

Corporate Author: Getnet Alemu and Edilegnaw Wale (Editor) & Ethiopian Economic Association/Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute
Publisher: Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA)
ISBN/ISSN: 978-99944-54-07-5
Primary Descriptors: agricultures

Geographic Descriptors: Ethiopia
Cataloge Date: 02/27/2013
Broad Subject heading: natural resources and Agricultural
Call Number: 330.963 PRO 2009
Serial Key Title: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on the Ethiopian Economy
Publication catagory: International Conference
Content type: EEA Publication
Volume: III
Publication date: 2013-12-27 23:09:00
Forum or Discussion date: 2013-02-27 15:02:17
Place of publication: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Type of material: Book
Current frequency: Annualy
Author: Amdissa Teshome and Stephen Deverux

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