Bart Minten

Cities and Agricultural Transformation in Africa: Evidence from Ethiopia

"Due to the rapid growth of cities in Africa, many more farmers are now living in rural hinterlands in relatively close proximity to cities where many provide food to urban residents. However, empirical evidence on how urbanization affects these farmers is scarce. To fill this gap, this paper explores the relationship between proximity to a city and the production behavior of rural staple crop producers. In particular, we analyze data from teff producing farmers in major producing areas around Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. We find that farmers located closer to Addis Ababa face higher wages and land rental prices, and because they receive higher teff prices they have better incentives to intensify production. Moreover, we observe that modern input use, land and labor productivity, and profitability in teff production improve with urban proximity. This urban proximity has a strong and significant effect on these aspects of teff production, possibly related to the use of more formal factor markets, lower transaction costs in crop production and marketing, and better access to information. In contrast, we do not find a strong and positive relationship between rural population density increases and agricultural transformation – increased population density seems to lead to immiserizing effects in these settings. Our results show that urban proximity should be considered as an important determinant of the process of agricultural intensification and transformation in developing countries."

Diet Transformation in Africa: The Case of Ethiopia

"Africa's food systems are changing fast amid rapid economic growth, emerging urbanization, and structural transformation. In this study, we use four rounds of nationally representative data from Ethiopia to examine changes in household food consumption patterns over a period of unprecedented economic growth. We find that while there is a general decline in the share of food in the total consumption basket of households in Ethiopia, food quantities and intake of calories have increased considerably over the period 1996 to 2011. This was mostly driven by improvements in household incomes, as shown using decomposition analysis. Furthermore, the content of the food basket is changing with a gradual shift towards high-value foods, such as animal products, fruits and vegetables, and processed foods. However, irrespective of the level of income, a heavy focus on starchy staples in the Ethiopian diet remains. Overall, this diet transformation has important implications for the food security debate and for agricultural and food policy in the country."

Synopsis: Agricultural Mechanization in Ethiopia: Evidence from the 2015 Feed the Future Survey

"In this research note, we provide a preview of results from a study of agricultural mechanization in Ethiopia. Our research shows that 9 percent of farmers in the Feed the Future regions of Ethiopia used mechanization at some point during the agricultural year 2014/15. We find that mechanized ploughing was most widespread (5 percent), while mechanized threshing and harvesting was reported by 3 and 2 percent of households, respectively. We further examine the uptake of different forms of mechanization through a number of associations. The results show that farm size and rural wages are positively associated with the adoption of mechanization, while remoteness is negatively linked. These findings suggest that as Ethiopia’s economy transforms and leads to higher rural wages, as well as with further development of its infrastructure, more demand for mechanized agricultural services will likely arise. Having policies that actively assure widespread availability of appropriate mechanized services at low cost, seem likely to benefit Ethiopia’s agricultural transformation."

Children's Diets, Nutrition Knowledge, and Access to Markets

"Chronic undernutrition in Ethiopia is widespread and many children consume highly monotonous diets. To improve feeding practices in Ethiopia, a strong focus in nutrition programming has been placed on improving the nutrition knowledge of caregivers. In this paper, we study the impact of improving nutrition knowledge within households and its complementarity with market access. To test whether the effect of nutrition knowledge on children’s dietary diversity depends on market access, we use survey data from an area with a large variation in transportation costs over a relatively short distance. This allows us to carefully assess the impact of households’ nutrition knowledge with varying access to markets, but still within similar agro-climatic conditions. We find that nutrition knowledge leads to considerable improvements in children’s diets, but only in areas with relatively good market access."