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Adoption of Multiple Sustainable Agricultural Practices in Rural Ethiopia


  • Hailemariam Teklewold,

  • Menale Kassie,

  • Bekele Shiferaw

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    • Menale Kassie is a Scientist-Agricultural & Development Economist, and Bekele Shiferaw is a Director for the Socioeconomics Program in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Nairobi, Kenya. Hailemariam Teklewold is a PhD student in the School of Business, Economics and Law in the Department of Economics at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. E-mail: for correspondence. The household surveys for this research were supported by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) under the CIMMYT-led project ‘Sustainable Intensification of Maize–Legume Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA)’. Financial and logistic support for this study from the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency through the Environmental Economics Unit, University of Gothenburg and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research is gratefully acknowledged. The article has benefited from the comments of participants in the Department of Economics Seminar Series, University of Gothenburg, and the 28th Triennial Conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE), 18–24 August, 2012, Brazil. Comments from the Chief Editor of this journal, anonymous referees, and Gunnar Köhlin are also highly appreciated.


The adoption and diffusion of sustainable agricultural practices (SAPs) has become an important issue in the development-policy agenda for sub-Saharan Africa, especially as a way to tackle land degradation, low agricultural productivity and poverty. However, the adoption rates of SAPs remain below expected levels. This study analyses the factors that facilitate or impede the probability and level of adoption of interrelated SAPs, using recent data from multiple plot-level observations in rural Ethiopia. Multivariate and ordered probit models are applied to the modelling of adoption decisions by farm households facing multiple SAPs, which can be adopted in various combinations. The results show that there is a significant correlation between SAPs, suggesting that adoptions of SAPs are interrelated. The analysis further shows that both the probability and the extent of adoption of SAPs are influenced by many factors: a household’s trust in government support, credit constraints, spouse education, rainfall and plot-level disturbances, household wealth, social capital and networks, labour availability, plot and market access. These results imply that policy-makers and development practitioners should seek to strengthen local institutions and service providers, maintain or increase household asset bases and establish and strengthen social protection schemes in order to improve the adoption of SAPs.