Rural Poverty and Food Insecurity in Ethiopia*: The Quest for Sustainable Rural Institutions and Technologies

  • Adugna Lemi Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts-Boston
  • Sisay Asefa Professor, Department of Economics & Director, Center for African Development Policy Research (CADPR), Western Michigan University.


This paper addresses the issue of rural poverty and food insecurity inEthiopia, with the aim of exploring some policy options for their eradication.Specifically, it discusses the role of agriculture in alleviating poverty and food insecurity.The paper also explores the general problem of ‘Environment-Food Security- RuralPoverty cycle’, with emphasis on the need to develop productive and sustainableinstitutions and technologies aimed at eradicating absolute poverty, food insecurity andnatural resource degradation (soil erosion and deforestation). Based on data from the FirstRound Ethiopian Household Survey conducted in 1994, it develops and uses an analyticalmodel (known as Social Accounting Matrix or SAM) to show the nature of linkageswithin the agricultural/rural economy. Based on household data from peasant associations(PAs), the analysis also provides production trends and determinants or constraints offood crop production for selected provinces or zones. The paper shows the weak natureof linkages among the sub-sectors of the rural economy, and concludes by drawing somepolicy implications from the literature reviewed and the results of the analytical casemodel. An important policy implication of the paper is the critical need to develop marketand non-market institutions to increase agricultural productivity and to overcome cropproduction constraints and the weak linkages in the rural economy, in order to eradicateabsolute poverty and food insecurity. The paper is part of work in progress that will befurther developed and revised based on more data from Ethiopia