APRA Working Paper 78: How Does Land Size Mediate the Relationship between Specialisation and Commercialisation? Lessons from Rice Farming in the Fogera Plain of Ethiopia

Written by: Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Marco Carreras and Dawit Alemu

The introduction of rice into Ethiopia provided a solution to food insecurity. More recently, national policy has emphasised the positive relationship between rice specialisation and commercialisation and, thus, higher incomes. In retrospect, this initiative has been hugely successful as the regions where rice has been introduced have been transformed from heavily relying on food aid to becoming a thriving commercial centre. This transformation owes much to the increase in the production, consumption and commercial value of rice. However, the relationship between specialisation and commercialisation is far from straightforward and is mediated by poverty, as proxied by farm size in this paper. Using a novel cross-sectional dataset of rice farmers from the Fogera Plain in Ethiopia, collected in 2018, in this paper we look at the relationship between rice specialisation and commercialisation and how specialisation and commercialisation decisions and outcomes are mediated by farm size. Specifically, we characterise farmers by the extent of rice specialisation and commercialisation and explore the role of landholding size.

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