Vegetable business and smallholders’ food security: Empirical findings from Northern Ethiopia
This article (PDF) in the Sustainability journal aims to answer the question is whether market-oriented vegetable production will actually help farmers to become more food secure. In Ethiopia, there have been increased efforts to promote market-oriented vegetable production and food security is still a crucial issue in the country. The results show that a farmer’s participation in the vegetable business increased significantly with adequate household productive resources (e.g., land size and access to irrigation), cooperative memberships and access to extension services. On the other hand, the age of the head of household, the market distance and risk perceptions significantly decreased participation. Additionally, the results indicate participation in the vegetable business results not only in higher food availability and access but also in lower food variety and diet diversity scores. Participation has less of an impact on per capita kilocalorie consumption and child anthropometric measures of food security. Furthermore, both qualitative and quantitative results indicate that the rise of vegetable production makes a substantial contribution to food availability and access for society at large. This contribution occurs through wage income for labourers and through the income generated for the producers. These remaining challenges indicate that current market facilitation and irrigation developments are not enough. Expanding the irrigation infrastructure is pertinent for food security and an additional potential strategy is for the government to facilitate the establishment of mechanisms that link smallholder producers with (inter)national agribusiness. The policy implication is that, while Ethiopia is going ahead with inclusive market-driven approaches to food security, alternative mechanisms must be put in place to address the negative impacts and to empower those living in the most vulnerable conditions.