A significant increase in agricultural productivity in Africa is crucial for successful economic development. This transformation will have to occur in a very challenging environment due to demographic pressures and climate change.

Crop diversity may have an important role to play in food security. Using data from Ethiopia this paper investigates the effects of crop diversity on production and finds that the impact on productivity may be lower than previously thought.

Key points for decision-makers

  • Successful economic development requires an increase in agricultural productivity in Africa.
  • A key policy debate is whether production should be geared towards input-intensification or diversity of crops.
  • Previous research finds large effects of crop and/or cereal diversity on productivity.
  • Using Ethiopia as a case study this paper finds that although crop diversity has a sizeable positive effect on productivity this seems to be driven by one cereal crop (teff) and a restricted set of agro-ecological zones.
  • Teff has lower yields than other cereals, yet is cultivated on its own for reasons including high resilience, taste and higher prices.
  • This indicates productivity gains are partly the result of the yield differentials of cultivated crops rather than the impact of crop diversity more generally.
  • The research uses data from the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey (ERHS).
  • Since the early 1990s, the Ethiopian Government’s growth strategy made the agricultural sector a pillar of its national development strategy.
  • In 2013 agriculture accounted for about three quarters of total employment (73%) and 41% of GDP.


ISSN 2515-5717 (Online) – Grantham Research Institute Working Paper series

ISSN 2515-5709 (Online) – CCCEP Working Paper series

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