Striking Balance btw Increasing Food Production, Ecosystem Conservation Crucial: Study

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July 12, 2022 (ENA) The Policy Studies Institute of Ethiopia has urged policy makers to strike a balance between increasing food production to meet rising food demand and reduce poverty while meeting objectives of ecosystem conservation.

In
a half-day workshop held today, Policy Studies Institute presented
three papers on  understanding gender differences on the choices of
portfolio of climate-smart agricultural practices in Sub-Saharan Africa,
consumption risk and development resilience in Ethiopia, and ‘
understanding the impact of farmland expansion on rural household’s
livelihood.

According
to the study presented with the title ”Understanding the Impact of
Farmland Expansion on Rural Household’s Livelihood: Empirical Evidence
from Ethiopia”, Ethiopia’s population is expected to surpass 200 million
by the end of 2049 and that will result in an increasing demand for
food and conversion of substantial areas of forest into agricultural
land, unless alternative measures are in place.

The
study conducted by the institute stated that a rapidly growing
population, widespread poverty, low agricultural productivity and lack
of alternative income sources often push rural people in the country to
expand agricultural land into forested areas and are leading to loss of
ecosystem losses.

Over the last two decades, more land has been converted from forest and woodland vegetation to produce stable crops.

Between
2001 and 2019 alone Ethiopia lost 410,000 hectares of tree cover, and
land under cereal production has increased from 7.2 million hectares in
2000 to 10.2 million hectares in 2016.

The
demand of agricultural commodities is projected to increase inevitably
by 70 to 100 percent by the year 2050, the study added.

It
urged the need for policy makers to balance the trade-offs between
competing objectives of food security and limiting bio-diversity loss in
the country with taking alternative options.

The
alternative options include addressing the low productivity of the
agricultural sector through increased support for research,
technological development, extension services and capacity building to
sustainably increase agricultural productivity.

Increasing
local perceptions on the importance of nature, improving natural
resource governance and resource use efficiency, sustainable farming
practices such as improved water management, conservation agriculture
and adoption of agro-forestry practices will be crucial to halting and
reversing environmental degradation.

The
study further suggested that agricultural intensification through the
adoption of multiple yield enhancing and resource conserving
technologies and market oriented production may contribute to land
sparing and avoid deforestation.

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