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Publication | 2024

Pathways and policy options for food and nutrition gaps in arid agricultural farming systems in the Tigray Region, north Ethiopia

Food and nutrition security is a major global challenge especially indeveloping countries.Agriculture is main means of livelihoods and hunger is drastically increasing from time to time especially due to effects of climate change, conflict and other manmade and natural calamities in these countries. Similarly, the Tigray Region is one of the Ethiopia's most food and nutrition insecure regions with agriculture serving as the main source of income and employment. This study was therefore conducted to fill the gap in understanding the socioeconomic situation, bio-physical environment, institutional setting and policy landscape by analysing the existing circumstances in Tigray Region. This research employed quantitative data sets collected from 300 randomely selected Productive Saftey Net Program (PSNP) beneficiarieries and Non-PSNP households using probability proportional to size. The Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) used as a proxy measure to nutrition security as our data is 24 h recall and food gap months as proxy to food security. Besides, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) method is used to construct household asset index. The results of the study revealed that there are clear and significant differences of the PSNP and Non-PSNP households, and gender in land holding (p<0.01%), asset ownership(p<0.01%), food gap months(p<0.01%), dietary diversity(p<0.01%), exposure to hazards and risks, copping strategies, yield, access to agricultural extension services, access to improved varieties (varietal diversification). The male headed households, and Non-PSNP households are better off than the female headed and PSNP households' counterparts. Thus, provision of practical training, conducting farmer's participatory research, field days, promoting and creating access to farmers' preferred high yielding improved varieties and management practices available in the research and extension consortium, support in research and development that develops and disseminate appropriate technologies to help farmers to lower their food gap months is highly important. In addition, sustainable intensification, off-farm employment alternatives, and engaging in agribusiness activities that create resilient livelihood options to those resource poor farm households, strengthening the formal and informal seed system would help to reduce food gap months, improve HDDS, build resilience of the food and nutrition insecure households. Therefore, customized extension services and packages are important for addressing the food and nutrition security gaps by setting goal, outcome and output indicators for future interventions in the research and development arena in filling food gap months, dietary diversity and household asset building through collaboration among relevant stakeholders in the food system.