Fertilizer and soil fertility potential in Ethiopia

Constraints and opportunities for enhancing the system

This document is a summary report of the soil fertility and fertilizer value chain diagnostic work—one of eight reports across the agricultural system facilitated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and undertaken at the request of H.E. Prime
Minister Meles Zenawi. Over 70 stakeholders, ranging from smallholder farmers and local Development Agents to the private sector and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, contributed to the report’s findings and recommendations.

This report reaffirms the need for significant improvements to soil fertility and fertilizer applications that take into account Ethiopia’s varied agro-ecologies, soil, and climate. These steps are critical to achieve the aspirations of higher crop yields contained in the sectoral strategies of the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) and its development partners. Since the early 1990s, Ethiopia has achieved marked improvements in the distribution of agricultural inputs through programs such as the Participatory and Training Extension System (PADETES) and the work of Sasakawa Global 2000. However, the majority of production growth has come largely from increased land under cultivation rather than yield growth.

Given forecast population growth of over 2 percent p.a. to 2030, and the increasing scarcity of cultivable lands in high-potential areas, Ethiopia must consider approaches to improve future outputs through considerable enhancement in crop yields. These activities should complement a forward-looking strategy to increase the country’s cultivable land.

Zelleke, Gete
Agegnehu, Getachew
Abera, Dejene
Rashid, Shahidur
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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