Can improved food legume varieties increase technical efficiency in crop production in the Bale highlands, Ethiopia?
Faba bean (broad bean), field pea, and lentil are very important legumes in the highlands of Ethiopia. In 2012/13, about 4.4 million smallholder farmers planted 574,000 ha of faba bean producing 0.9 million tons at an average productivity of 1.6 tons per ha. Field pea is also an important source of protein in Ethiopia. In 2012, the crop ranked fourth in area coverage with an acreage of 212,890 ha and annual production of 2.6 million tons (FAO, 2012). We all agree (it seems) that legumes are essential for the regeneration of nutrient‐deficient soils. They fix nitrogen!
The Bale highlands are known for their mono-cropping production system: wheat and barley dominated. They grow one crop year after year on the same plot of land without rotations and with a single crop within a field. This is associated with two problems: Soil degradation and increased vulnerability to risk which implies lower efficiency compared to poly-cropping systems.
To show whether the adoption of improved food legume varieties increases the technical efficiency of crop production, research by ICARDA in Ethiopia was conducted to address the following questions:
- How efficient are improved faba bean and field pea growers compared to non-growers?
- If there is a considerable difference in efficiency, can we attribute this to the inclusion of improved faba bean and field pea varieties?
- Does crop productivity [crop output per unit of the most limiting input] vary between improved faba bean and field pea growers and non-growers?