Local Community's Perception, Assessment and Management of Food Insecurity Risks: The Case of Family Farming Households in South Western Ethiopia
Getachew Legese Feye1, Till Stellmacher1, Hailemariam Teklewold Belayneh2, Kristof Van Assche3, Girma Kelboro1
1University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Germany
Family farmers in Ethiopia constitute over 81% of the total population of the country and account for more than 95% of the total agricultural production. However, these farmers are operating under continuous threats of complex sets of risks. The purpose of this study was to assess local community's risk perceptions, assessment and management practices to mitigate food insecurity risks. We used a mixed methods approach comprising qualitative and random quantitative survey data from Jimma and Bako areas in Oromia region of southwestern Ethiopia. Results indicate that climate-related variables and institutions influencing agricultural inputs, outputs and food prices were important sources of household food insecurity risks. Noteworthy, 90% of farmers in the sample perceived that late onset of rain was the major source of risk. Similarly, 55% reported that early cessation of rainfall is the major sources of risk of food insecurity. About half of the sample indicated that extended drought was a major source of risk. In addition, 70% reported that they experienced effects of late onset of rain while 30% and the full sample experienced early cessation of rainfall and drought in the last five years, respectively. Farmers assessed drought as a difficult to predict and avoid source of risk with the highest negative impact on crop productivity. Market and institutional variables were additional sources of risk. Results show that 78% and 98% of farmers, respectively, perceived that large decreases in maize prices and large increases in input prices were important sources of food insecurity. High input costs and low grain prices have been important disincentives to increasing grain production in Ethiopia for over the last six decades. Households and the local community at large are using different risk management strategies to protect themselves from food insecurity. These strategies range from risk coping strategies such as reduction of consumption to adaptation strategies such as use of short season and early maturing crop varieties and development of suitable crop agronomic practices in response to changing sources of food insecurity. Promoting such coping and adaptation strategies would be essential to build sustainable solutions to food insecurity.
Keywords: Local community, risk assessment, risk management, risk perception
Contact Address: Getachew Legese Feye, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Genscherallee 3, D-53113 Bonn Bonn, Germany, e-mail: abayomigetyahoo.com