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Implementation and Case Studies

Science Forum 2018 Case Study // Examining Tradeoffs in the Allocation of Biomass Energy Sources to Domestic and Productive Uses in Ethiopia

By Dawit Mekonnen, Elizabeth Bryan, Tekie Alemu, Claudia Ringler. Rural households in Ethiopia have limited options to meet their domestic energy needs because they lack access to modern fuels and technologies. This study looked at the tradeoff between the use of biomass such as cow dung, fuel wood, and crop residues for domestic cooking and heating purposes, instead of leaving the biomass on the field to improve soil organic matter.

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The results show that the use of dung as a domestic fuel source has reduced farm productivity in Ethiopia, as soil organic matter is being removed from the field to meet household energy demand, a problem that is not solved by increased use of chemical fertilizers due to complementarities in chemical fertilizers and soil organic matters. Farm households, particularly women and girls, spend quite significant number of hours a week in search for fuelwood to meet domestic energy demand, a time that could have been used in productivity-enhancing activities. The amount of time households spend in search of fuelwood, cow dung, and crop residues does not meaningfully differ by households’ access to electricity because in many households, electricity is being used primarily for lighting purposes.

On the other hand, the use of on-farm fuelwood is associated with increased value of agricultural output. On-farm production of fuelwood appears to increase the value of crop output and provide labor savings, by making fuelwood collection more convenient for households. Policy interventions to support the expansion of agroforestry and increase access to new energy-efficient technologies are needed to ensure that agricultural productivity can be both increased and sustained (Mekonnen et al., 2017).

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Published

January 2017

In

Agricultural Economics, Volume 48, Issue 4, July 2017, Pages 425-435

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