African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6728

Full Length Research Paper

Irrigation technology and crop choices in Ethiopia: Spate vis-a-vis rainwater-harvesting irrigation technologies

Mekonnen B. Wakeyo
  • Mekonnen B. Wakeyo
  • Ethiopian Development Research Institute, Blue Building near the National Stadium, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
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Naoya Fujimoto
  • Naoya Fujimoto
  • Rural Development Division, Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), 1-1 Ohwashi, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki, Japan.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 24 November 2016
  •  Accepted: 13 March 2017
  •  Published: 13 April 2017


Moisture-stress weakens the use of modern inputs such as fertilizer, which could undermine yields. In a growing population, low yields cause food shortage. Investing in irrigation mitigates moisture-stress but expensive for smallholder farmers. Spate irrigation, a sudden flood run-off diverting, is cheaper to invest in than other irrigation technologies such as ponds and shallow-wells. This study investigated factors deriving the choice of spate irrigation in Ethiopia, and compared crop-choices and yields among irrigation technologies. To investigate the technology choice, logit model was estimated using data collected from Ethiopia in 2005. Secondary data was analyzed to examine crop-choice and yields. The findings show that: (1) farmers with higher irrigation capital, family-labour, lower operation and maintenance (O&M) costs and living in more arid and rainfall-shortage areas choose spate irrigation; (2) market access does not affect the choice; (3) spate users often grow cereals and pulses than other irrigation users, and this enhances food security; (4) spate irrigation increases grain supplies by increasing yields. These findings suggest that encouraging irrigation-capital creation, low-cost O&M, meteorological services, and considering regional diversities increased the probability of modernizing spate irrigation. The findings also inform the decision on crop choice in disadvantaged and remote areas to improve livelihood.


Key words: Irrigation technology, spate irrigation, rainwater harvesting, crop-choice, Ethiopia.