Warming to Change? Climate Policy and Agricultural Development in Ethiopia

Future Agricultures Working Paper 71
Leulseged Yirgu, Alan Nicol and Shweta Srinivasan
August 2013

This paper addresses how policy responses to climate change are shaping the agricultural sector in Ethiopia, and their significance for the country’s future development. The paper highlights the multiple policy and institutional responses, including those that fall under a new policy direction of ‘green’ economic development, with a focus on development of a low-carbon economy by 2025. Under this broad banner, emerging policy narratives centre on achieving ‘climate smart’ agriculture, establishing more intensified and commercial approaches and, in the livestock sector, seeking major transformations in pastoralism within the country’s lowland periphery. At the same time, a number of structural gaps are emerging, including the success with which climate policy is being integrated across different natural resource sectors, from water and land management to rural afforestation.

Important political-economic considerations are shown to be driving some of the emerging challenges, as Ethiopia struggles to find ways of engaging a rapidly-growing economically active population. The paper suggests that externally-driven policy processes are crowding out more coherent analyses of key national-level resource management and development issues, and that a rush for climate finance may crowd out important local knowledge and experience from below that can better inform policy responses. Without adequately addressing multiple challenges facing smallholder farmers in many parts of the overcrowded highlands, question marks continue to surround the capacity of the country to achieve real agricultural transformation under the ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan.


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