Soil conservation in Tigray, Ethiopia

Soil conservation in Tigray, Ethiopia

Enabling Ethiopian farmers to see the long term benefits of improved soils

This report presents a review into soil erosion and conservation research and efforts made in Tigray.

The report includes both traditional measures and activities promoted by non-government organisations (NGO's) and government projects. Main emphasis is placed on stone terracing and stone bunds since these are the most widely used soil conservation measures in the region. Relatively limited research has been made in Tigray, therefore the report includes some findings from other parts of the Ethiopian highlands for comparison.

Findings include: the building of stone terraces in Hagere Selam, Tigray, led to increased yields of wheat on four-year old terraces. Farmers also seem to be aware of the long-term effects of soil conservation measures on crop yields, but may not be in a position to act on their own to protect their soil.

Recommendations include:

  • a new approach to the farmer in many cases. Since reducing soil erosion is likely to be a less important objective for the farmer than securing immediate food needs, recommended changes should be shown to provide tangible results
  • construction of mechanical conservation structures should be followed up by other inputs, such as fertiliser, improved seeds, and other farming factors. If no additional improvement is offered, the promised yield increase from conservation measures is likely to be small
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