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DEPARTMENT OF AGRONOMY

Introduction­­

Ethiopia’s socio-economic feature is predominantly rural and agriculture which is a key driving force of the country’s long-term growth and food security. About 85 percent of the population is in rural parts of the country and agriculture directly supports 83 percent of the population, constitutes 41 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 90 percent of export value (Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA), 2012). However, complex and widespread poverty, food insecurity, low productivity, famine and degradation of natural resources are among the challenges facing the country (David et al., 2011).

According to International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, 2010), the country also faces a wide set of soil fertility issues that require approaches that go beyond the application of chemical fertilizers, the only practice applied at scale to date. Chemical fertilizer faces significant constraints in terms of low availability of credit and limited reach of distribution networks in contexts where appropriate application can enhance yields. Topsoil erosion (soil erosion in the country accounts eight percent of the global total (Tekalign, 2008); acidity of the soil (covering over 40 percent of the country), significantly depleted organic matter due to widespread use of biomass as fuel, depleted macro and micro-nutrients and depletion of soil physical properties are among the core constraints that the country is facing. Generally in Sub-Saharan Africa, low and declining soil fertility due to net nutrient extraction by crops is responsible for low agricultural productivity and food insecurity (Yirga and Hassan, 2010)

The current population growth rate in the region appears to be greater than the agricultural production rate contributing to the food insecurity and environmental degradation. (Getachew and Ranjan,2012). A potential exists for self-sufficiency in grains and for export development grains, vegetables, and fruits.Seemore