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Impact of improved maize adoption on household food security of maize producing smallholder farmers in Ethiopia


In recent years, maize has gained prominence as an important staple crop in Ethiopia second only to teff in terms of acreage. Most of this is grown by semi-subsistence farm households whose livelihoods are tied to crop production and some livestock keeping. Therefore, an important policy question concerns the impact that the reported maize revolution has had on household food security. This paper answers that question by examining the empirical regularities that explain the adoption of improved maize varieties (IMVs) and how this has impacted household food security in a sample of 2327 maize producing households in 39 districts of Ethiopia. An endogenous switching regression model supported by the dose-response continuous treatment effect method was used to empirically assess the impact of IMV adoption on per capita food consumption expenditure and perceived household food security status. Results show that IMV adoption has a robust and positive impact on per capita food consumption and also significantly increases the probability of a smallholder being in food surplus. The advances in the adoption of improved maize has thus contributed significantly to the food security of maize producing smallholders, confirming the role of crop improvement in contributing to food security of agrarian households.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Teff is an endemic and fine-grained cereal crop widely grown in Ethiopia.

  2. Survey data underlying this study showed that, on average, maize home consumption amounted to 64%. In addition, our data show 73% of the cereal production per household was coming from maize.

  3. The ‘not for more than three seasons’ cut-off point for recycled OPV seed was based on consultation with maize breeders.

  4. ETB is Ethiopian Birr (Currency), where 1USD was equivalent to 17.01ETB during the survey period.


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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 29th International Conference of Agricultural Economists (ICAE) and the authors benefited from the constructive comments received from the conference participants. The authors would also like to acknowledge the financial support for data collection from both the Diffusion and Impact of Improved Varieties in Africa (DIIVA) project coordinated by the Standing Panel for Impact Analysis (SPIA) in the CGIAR; and the Sustainable Intensification in Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) program funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The Consortium Research Program MAIZE provided additional support. Thanks to Dr. Kindie Tesfaye for the location and maize potential map in Fig. 1. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the donor or the authors’ institution. The usual disclaimer applies.

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Correspondence to Moti Jaleta.

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Table 8 ESR estimates for food consumption expenditure and probability of food security

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Jaleta, M., Kassie, M., Marenya, P. et al. Impact of improved maize adoption on household food security of maize producing smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. Food Sec. 10, 81–93 (2018).

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  • Improved varieties
  • Adoption
  • Impact
  • Endogenous switching regression
  • Smallholder
  • Ethiopia

JEL classification

  • C31
  • C34
  • D6
  • D13