Like in any other part of the country, land degradation resulting from water erosion and nutrient depletion is one of the most challenging problems for farmers in the Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia. Nevertheless, investments in land management to reduce land degradation and increase agricultural production by smallholder farmers have been limited. In addition, public and private sector organizations have never collaborated to stimulate (investments in) land improvement. This study focuses on coinvestments, which are conceived as the collaboration of different stakeholders in land management in the form of material, labour, finance, technology, knowledge and governance.
The overall aim of this research was to explore the potential of such co-investments for fostering sustainable land management and increase soil productivity in the Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia. The specific objectives were:
- Understand farmers’ strategies to their perceived trends of crop productivity and rainfall in the CRV of Ethiopia.
- Assess farmers’ investments in land management in the CRV of Ethiopia.
- Explore the key factors affecting farmers’ investments in land management in the CRV of Ethiopia.
- Explore the bottlenecks and requirements of co-investments in land management by multilevel public organizations and the private sector.
- Analyze experiences with multi-level collaboration and draw conclusions concerning the prospects for co-investments in land management.
Water erosion and fertility depletion are taken as main indicators of land degradation, and the results show that farmers perceive an increase in both indicators over the last decade. They are aware of it and consider it as a problem. Nevertheless, farmers’ investments to control water erosion and soil fertility depletion are very limited in the CRV. Results also show that farmers’ awareness of both water erosion and soil fertility decline as a problem is not significantly associated with their investments in land management. Hence, even farmers who perceive land degradation on their fields and are concerned about its increase over the last decade, do not significantly invest more in water erosion and soil fertility control measures than farmers who do not perceive these phenomena. Further research is needed to assess which other factors might influence farmers’ investments in land management, especially factors related to socioeconomic characteristics of farm households and plot characteristics which were not addressed by this study.