Determinants of agricultural land management practices among smallholder farmers in the Wanka watershed, northwestern highlands of EthiopiaI

Wondwosen Abera, Mohammed Assen, Jessica Budds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Small-scale agriculture is an important livelihood in sub-Saharan Africa. In the face of land degradation, identifying the constraints to smallholder farmers in improving soil quality is important to inform institutional interventions. While previous policies and studies have concentrated on structural land management practices, less attention has been paid to farmers’ choice of land management strategies. This study examines the socio-economic, institutional, and agro-ecological factors that influence smallholder farmers’ land management practices, based on a case study of the Wanka watershed in the northwestern highlands of Ethiopia. Household survey questionnaires, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were used to gather data, which were analysed using descriptive statistics and a multinomial logit model. The study revealed that socio-economic factors (number of livestock, household size, plot size, farming experience, off-farm income) had a significant impact on mixed cropping and crop rotation, and the use of chemical fertiliser. Institutional factors (access to credit and extension services) strongly influenced farmers’ use of chemical/organic fertiliser and practice of mixed cropping, especially among younger farmers. Agro-ecological differences were also significant, the application of chemical fertiliser alone has decreased, but its practice in combination with crop rotation and drainage ditches increased, at lower elevations. The study concludes that the specific socio-economic circumstances of farmers, agro-ecological conditions of land, and institutional factors, need to be considered in the development of measures and policies that aim to encourage farmers to adopt additional land management practices to enhance sustainable agricultural production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104841
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date16 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Agro-ecology
  • Land degradation
  • Multinomial logit model
  • Rural livelihoods
  • Soil quality
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

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