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Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development

Vol. 4(1), pp. 389-396, March, 2018. ©, ISSN: 2167-0477


The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in

Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia
Felix Moses Tembo
Department of Land Management, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Mzuzu University, Malawi

The paper reports results of a study on investigating impacts of climate change on teff (Eragrostis
tef) production in three agro-ecological zones (highlands, midlands and lowlands) of Endamehoni
and Raya Azebo weredas of Tigray. The impact of climate change on teff farming was estimated
taking into account farm households’ characteristics, socio-economic, climate, adaptations,
production factors and agro-ecological settings in a low-income developing country. Ricardian
model was used to analyze data obtained from teff farming households. From the fourteen
predictor variables fitted in the model, six variables e.g. climate factors, adaptation strategies,
production factors, weather and climate information, socio-economic factors and agro-ecology
were found to have significance influence on net revenues with model coefficients at p=0.05 and
less. Climate factors (temperature and rainfall) and adaptation to climate change were found to
play key roles on net revenues. Increasing (decreasing) temperature reduces (increases) teff
revenues. Therefore, policies of government on adaptation ought to be given enough attention to
reduce vulnerability and improve food security among teff farming communities in rural areas.

Key words: climate change, perception, teff, net revenue, Ricardian model


Climate change refers to changes in the climate noticed by extremely vulnerable to climate change (Yumbya et al.
changes in variability of certain properties (e.g. 2014). An existing atlas on poverty and climate
temperature, rainfall) that persist over years (Sumelius et vulnerability in Africa (Yesuf et al. 2008) locates Ethiopia
al. 2009). According to Raisanen and Tuomenvirta (2008) as one of the most vulnerable countries. It is shown by
changes in climate arise as a consequence of natural periodical extreme events in form of frequent droughts
variability as well as human activity. Climate change is a (1965, 1974, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2000,
real global challenge (Yumbya et al. 2014) and its impacts 2002 and 2011). Therefore, annual rainfall and other
have totally changed agriculture status of the world climatic factors have critical influence on teff (Eragrostis
(Gebretsadik 2012). Climate change triggers high tef) yields, one of the major food crops for Ethiopia.
temperatures and reduced rainfall resulting into decreased
crop yields affecting particularly African countries (Di Falco The impact of climate change is mainly the cause for food
et al. 2011; Yesuf et al. 2008). insecurity particularly rural areas of Ethiopia (Gebretsadik
2012). According to FAO (2010), the rising temperature
Ethiopia covers about 112.3 million hectares of land and and variability in rainfall pattern have direct impact on crop
16.4 million is suitable for crop production (Deressa et al. production and food security. For example, Tigray is highly
2009). Ethiopia is particularly vulnerable to climate change vulnerable to climate related events such as droughts. The
because its economy is largely built on weather sensitive historic droughts of 1990; 1991; 1999; 2000; 2011; 2014
agriculture production (IPCC 2007; Mendelsohn 2000). (Yumbya et al. 2014) particularly resulted in reduced crop
Agriculture is a source of livelihood to majority of Ethiopian yields. Reports from IBC (2012) and FAO (2010) indicate
population where small-scale subsistence farming is repeated failures in teff production due to localized
predominant (Di Falco et al. 2011). It accounts for about droughts associated with erratic rainfall. As farmers
45% of the GDP and 85% of total employment but depend on teff produce, they expect food and stable
The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia
Felix M. Tembo 390

income from the crop to sustain their livelihoods. However, climate change on agriculture. Cross sectional data of
any shock on the sector results in food insecurity and almost 3,000 counties in United States of America was
broader economic consequences for rural farming used. The results indicated that seasonal temperature in
community. all seasons excluding autumn increased farm revenues.
Similarly, Passel et al. (2012) employed a continental
Despite increased frequency and intensity of climate risks scale Ricardian analysis to estimate the impact of climate
in the region empirical studies on climate change impacts change on European agriculture. The analysis was carried
are lacking. With climate change a real global challenge it out using data on climate, soil, socio-economic
is important to investigate these climate risks at household characteristics from 37,000 farms across Europe. The
level. Investigating farmers’ perceptions and impacts of findings indicate that land values are sensitive to climate.
climate change are essential because they may give Increase/decrease in rainfall increases/reduces farm
directions for more suitable adaptation strategies for the revenue by 3% per centiliter of rainfall. Additionally,
region. Local farmers’ perceptions on climate change Bayecha (2013) analyzed the economic impacts of climate
govern their responses to localized climate risks on their change on teff production in central Ethiopia. It used data
livelihoods (Deressa et al. 2014). Therefore, indigenous from 150 teff farmers in Lume and Gimbichu districts of
knowledge coupled with scientific scenario is worthwhile to Ethiopia. It analyzed farmers’ perceptions on long-term
design policy directions for future coping strategies. change in climate (temperature and rainfall) and
adaptation strategies on teff production. The study
Farming communities in the region have experienced revealed that temperature had negative impact on net teff
repeated food insecurity and received grain assistance revenue while rainfall had positive impact on net teff
due to droughts. Food assistance is a common revenue.
phenomenon in fighting food shortages. For instance,
Ethiopia needed almost 897,000 metric tons of food
assistance during the 2000/2001 drought period and METHODOLOGY
almost 455 million US Dollar worth of food assistance in
2008/2009 (GOE 2009). Drought and food shortages Study area
therefore, necessitated conducting household level
empirical study to make use of indigenous knowledge and Tigray is located in northern part of Ethiopia (Figure 1) with
experience in designing feasible coping strategies more an altitude ranging from 400 to 4,000 m above mean sea
appropriate for local farmers. level. It lies between latitudes 12° 15’ N and 14° 57’ N and
longitudes 36° 27’ E and 39° 59’ E. It covers an area of
The main objective of the study was to analyze impacts of about 53,000 km2 (CSA 2015). In 2008 the population was
climate change on teff production. In theory there exists a estimated to be 4.3 million with an annual growth rate of
relationship between various factors that are assumed to 2.5%, predominantly rural and engaged in rain-fed
influence impacts of climate change on agriculture and agriculture (Abraha et al. 2012). Administratively, Raya
their directions. For example, perceptions of farm Azebo is subdivided into 18 kebeles at an altitude ranging
household on climate change arise from multiple from 930 to 2,300 m above mean sea level with 90% of the
directions. This is because farm household’s level of weredas described as midland and 10% lowland (Tesfay
awareness on climate change and its intensity provide et al. 2014). Endamehoni is described as mostly highlands
lessons on how farmers perceive change in the climate. It with an altitude of 2,432 m above mean sea level at
is hypothesized therefore, that socio-economic factors, Maichew. The climate is generally semi-arid with two types
climate factors, adaptation strategies, production factors of rainfall patterns (mono and bimodal). Annual rainfall
and agro-ecological settings influence teff production and ranges from 800-1,000 mm per year dropping to 400 mm
revenues. Linear regression therefore was used to access (Edwards et al. 2006). Farming system is predominantly
the impact of climate change on teff revenues. The paper mixed with livestock keeping. Major crops grown in the
therefore focused on farmers’ perceptions of the long-term area include sorghum, teff, barley and maize (Tesfay et al.
changes in temperature and rainfall and impacts of climate 2014). Some major challenges facing the area range from
change on teff revenues. flooding, soil erosion, drought and erratic rainfall.

Several studies carried out globally e.g. United States of Data sources, sampling and analysis
America, France, China, India, Brazil, Cameroon, South
Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya used Ricardian model to Both quantitative and qualitative data were used. The data
estimate impacts of climate change on agriculture. For was mainly obtained from a survey conducted at the three
example, Mendelsohn et al. (1994) estimated the villages using a structured questionnaire. Meteorological
economic impact of climate change on land values. It used data (temperature and rainfall) was sourced from National
the Ricardian model to calculate the economic impact of Meteorological Agency of Tigray.

The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia

J. Agric. Econ. Rural Devel. 391

Figure 1: Map of Ethiopia showing location of Tigray and study area.

In designing the survey, a stratified sampling technique Analysis calculates environmental damage (Rosenzweig
with simple random was employed. At first, two out of 35 and Iglesias 1994). Having explored the three models, it
weredas in the region were purposively selected because was noted that they have limitations. CGE models are
they were teff growing areas but also vulnerable to climate extremely aggregated while agronomic models are weak
change. The two weredas were Endamehoni (highland) to capture adaptation strategies. Production Function
and Raya Azebo (midland and lowland). Secondly, three Analysis also has been criticized for having inherent
villages were purposively selected from the highland, biases and tends to overestimate climate change damage
midland and lowland representing one village at each on agriculture because of failure to take into account
agro-ecological zone. . Thirdly, the sampled households immeasurable variability of substitutions that may displace
were randomly selected from the identified villages. A outdated activities for climate change. The Ricardian
sample of 210 households were selected from the three approach, therefore, has been commended because it
agro-ecological zones comprising of 70 farmers from the takes into account all shortfalls inherent in other models.
highlands, 70 farmers from midlands and 70 farmers from The approach has been proved to be appropriate because
lowlands. it corrects for biases that are found in other approaches
like the production function analysis (Mendelsohn et al.
A table was used to describe farmers’ long-term 2000). It takes into account the direct impacts of climate
perceptions about temperature and rainfall variability. on crop yields as well as the indirect substitution of diverse
Graphs were used to show long term (30 years) trends in inputs and different activities introduced and possible
temperature and rainfall variability while estimated adaptations by computing farm revenues.
coefficients of net revenues drawn from the regression
model were show in a table. Theoretically, it is assumed that changes in farm output in
terms of products’ value (quantity of farm produce) is
The econometric model shown in farmland value (Bello and Maman 2015).
Farmland net productivity is shown in net revenues.
Previous literature indicate that farmland’s value is found
Most empirical studies on climate change impacts on
to be sensitive to seasonal climatic conditions of rainfall
agriculture employ the Ricardian approach. There are
and temperature (Mendelsohn and Dinar 2003;
other models also used e.g. Computable General
Mendelsohn et al. 2000). Ricardian was named after
Equilibrium (CGE), Agronomic-Simulation and Production
David Ricardo (1772-1823) because of his original opinion
Function Analysis. CGE model is commonly used for
that land value is reflected in net productivity. Net revenue
quantifying costs and benefits on how economic activities
(𝑅) reflects net productivity and the principle follows the
affect the environment and vice versa (Van Ierland, 1999).
equation: 𝑅 = ∑ 𝑃𝑖 𝑄𝑖 (𝑋, 𝐹, 𝑍, 𝐺) − ∑ 𝑃𝑥 𝑋 (1)
Agronomic-Simulation model emphasizes the dynamic
physiological process of plant growth and seed formation Where 𝑃𝑖 the market price of yield 𝑖, 𝑄𝑖 the output of yield
(Maganga and Malakini 2015). Production Function 𝑖, 𝑋 the vector of farm inputs, 𝐹 the vector of climate
The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia
Felix M. Tembo 392

variables, 𝑍 the vector of physical variables (e.g. agro- positive and negative coefficients. The change in annual
ecology), 𝐺 the vector of socio-economic variables (e.g. benefits (∆𝑈), a resultant from climate change from C0 to
distance to market) and 𝑃𝑥 the vector of input prices C1 can be defined as:
(Mendelson et al. 1994). The farmer is presumed to
∆𝑈 = 𝑅(𝐶1) − 𝑅(𝐶0) (4)
choose X to maximize net revenues given the physical
characteristics of farm and market price. This model is a If climate change increases net revenue it will be useful
reduced form that examines how different explanatory and if climate change reduces net revenue it will be
variables F, Z, and G affect net revenues. Normal harmful. Observations across different climates of the
Ricardian model depends on the following quadratic season can reveal sensitivity of climate on crop yields. This
formula: study, therefore, used linear regression to estimate teff net
revenue to impacts of climate change.
𝑅 = 𝐵0 + 𝐵1𝐹 + 𝐵2𝐹2 + 𝐵3𝑍 + 𝐵4𝐺 + 𝜀 (2)
Where, 𝜀 is an error term. It presents both linear and Independent variables for regression model
quadratic regression for temperature and rainfall. The
expected directional impact of single climate variable on Table 1 shows summary of independent variables in
net revenue estimated at the mean is: assessing impact of climate change on teff net revenue.
Teff revenues are assumed to be a function of farm
𝐸[ ] = 𝐵1, 𝑖 + 2 ∗ 𝑏2, 𝑖 ∗ 𝐸[𝑓𝑖] (3) household characteristics (e.g. age, education),
institutional support (e.g. farm to farm extension, formal
The quadratic term reveals the nonlinear shape of net extension services, access to formal credit), adaptation
revenue of climate reaction function (Equation 2). Net strategies, climate factors (e.g. temperature, rainfall),
revenue function indicates U-shaped when quadratic production factors (e.g. land size, seed, fertilizer, labor)
equation is positive and hill-shaped when quadric equation and agro-ecological settings (e.g. highland, midland,
is negative. The relationship between seasonal climate lowland).
variables is difficult to predict and may contain a mixture of

Table 1: Definition of explanatory variables

Variable Value Type Exp. sign
Access to climate information 1=yes, 0=no Dummy +/-
Access to formal extension services 1=yes, 0=no Dummy +/-
Access to farm-to-farm extension 1=yes, 0=no Dummy +/-
Access to adaptation strategy 1=yes, 0=no Dummy +/-
Age of household head Years Continuous +
Education status of household head School attended (years) Continuous +
Total number of livestock Number Continuous +
Size of land holding Hectare Continuous +
Amount of seeds used Kg/ha Continuous +
Amount of Fertilizer used Kg/ha Continuous +
Labor–individuals engaged in farm Number Continuous +
Distance to market Kilometer Continuous +
Rainfall Millimeter Continuous +
Temperature Degrees Celsius(°C) Continuous -


Table 2: Farmers perceptions of long term temperature
Farmers perceptions to climate change and rainfall changes (N=200).
Climate variables Respondents Response (%)
The results indicate 90% of farmers perceive increasing Temperature increase 180 90
temperature, 5% decreasing temperature and 4% perceive Temperature decrease 8 4
no change as shown in Table 2. Similarly, 92% of farmers No change in temperature 12 6
Rainfall increase 6 3
perceive decreasing rainfall, 3% increasing rainfall and 5%
Rainfall decrease 184 92
no change. In the past thirty years, increasing temperature No change in rainfall 10 5
and decreasing rainfall are leading perceptions among teff
farmers in the study area.

The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia

J. Agric. Econ. Rural Devel. 393

Figure 2: Maichew Meteorological Station average temperature.

Data Source: Government of Ethiopia (2016).

Figure 3. Maichew Meteorological Station annual rainfall.

Data Source: Government of Ethiopia (2016).

Temperature variability
Rainfall variability
Yearly average temperature shows an increasing trend of
0.1°C from 1985 to 2012 as indicated in Figure 2. Minimum Annual amounts of rainfall have shown decreasing trend
and maximum ideal temperature limit for teff growth was (0.03 mm) from 1976 to 2012 as shown in Figure 3.
found to be 13.2°C and 25.2°C respectively (Yumbya et al. Yumbya et al. (2014) noted that good amount of rainfall
2014). But currently, temperatures are within the ideal limit distribution for teff growth ranges from 600-1900 mm.
for proper teff growth. Should the rising trend in Rainfall conditions for proper teff growth are ideal currently
temperature continues, it is likely to reach a critical limit for though affected by droughts (e.g. 1990, 1999, 2000,
proper teff growth before 2050. This increasing trend in 2014). If annual rainfall continues decreasing, teff growth
temperature will have negative consequences for teff will reach a critical limit before 2040. Decreasing annual
growth and will result in reduced yields contributing to food rainfall affects teff production negatively.

The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia

Felix M. Tembo 394

Table 3: Estimated regression coefficients of net teff revenue

Variable Coef. Std.Err. t P>|t| [95% Conf. Interval]
Age 0.001 .0013557 0.74 0.460 -.0016708 .0036797
Education -0.005 .0060655 -0.80 0.426 -.0168113 .0071269
Rainfall 0.529 .1676664 3.16 0.000* .1982657 .8599546
Average temp. -0.617 .2216918 -2.78 0.006* -1.054747 -.1798154
Adaptation 1.022 .2794522 3.66 0.000* .4702346 1.573124
Farm-to-farm -0.155 .1632815 -0.95 0.343 -.4774341 .1669744
Formal ext. 0.019 .0691758 0.28 0.779 -.1170694 .1559404
Climate info. 0.211 .1098528 -1.92 0.047* -.4274729 .0060732
Market distance 0.007 .0100222 0.69 0.488 -.0128174 .0267365
Land size 0.261 .1101811 2.37 0.045* .0437495 .4785914
Seed 0.313 .0880712 3.55 0.000* .1392864 .4866976
Fertilizer 0.261 .1085698 2.40 0.017* .0462749 .4747416
Labor 0.441 .2519131 1.75 0.040* -.0565388 .9376267
Livestock 0.260 .1088982 2.39 0.018* .0450261 .4748051
Highland 0.253 .0901512 2.81 0.006* .0751319 .4307364
Midland 0.149 .0856049 1.75 0.082* -.0190012 .3186595
_cons 0.315 .164137 1.92 0.005 -.0091054 .6386794
Number of obs = 200 F (20,179) = 4.56 Prob > F = 0.0000 R-squared = 0.3376 Adj R-squared = 0.2636 Root MSE =
.21208. (*significance at 5% and less). Source: Author’s own calculations.

Impact of climate change on net revenue revenue than those that did not. It is assumed that farm
diversification generates extra income to farm households.
Table 3 presents a summary of regression model in Based on marginal effect, Yesuf et al. (2008) estimated
assessing the impact of climate change on teff revenues. that farm households that took climate change adaptation
Teff revenue is assumed to be a function of household tended to produce 95-300 kg more food per hectare than
head characteristics, formal and non-formal institution those that did not. He noted that farm households that
support, adaptation strategies, climate factors, weather engaged in adaptation measures reduced the effect of
and climate information, production factors and agro- climate change by almost 10-29%. This implies that the
ecology. effect of climate change is reduced if farm households
engage in adaptation strategies by increasing farm
Climate factors: Results of the study reveal that climate revenues. The results are also consistent with the
factors (temperature: p=0.006 and rainfall: p=0.000) are argument in literature (Yesuf et al. 2008; Di Falco et al.
statistically significant with negative and positive influence 2011) that climate change adaptation partly compensates
respectively on net revenue. The results suggest that the impacts of climate change on agriculture production.
increase in temperature reduces net revenue and increase
in rainfall increases net revenue, keeping other factors Production factors (inputs): The results show all
constant. A study by Kurukulasuriya Mendelsohn (2008) conventional inputs (seed p=000; fertilizer p=0.017; labor
found that African farms are very sensitive to climate p=0.040) displaying signs consistent with predictions of
particularly temperature. The study further observed that economic theory and statistically significant with positive
farm revenues are poorer in places of higher temperatures influence to farm revenue. The results suggest that farm
than lower temperatures. Similarly, a study by Deressa households who used more seeds, more fertilizers and
(2007) on ‘Measuring The Economic Impact of Climate more farm labor had increased net revenue, keeping other
Change on Ethiopian Agriculture’ observed that increasing factors constant. Naturally, it is expected that use of more
temperature by (2.5-5) °C affects net revenue per hectare seeds, more fertilizers and more labor tend to increase
slightly and reducing rainfall by (7-14) % also reduces net farm revenue. Therefore, only those farm households that
revenue per hectare. It is assumed that increasing used more seeds, more fertilizer and additional farm labor
temperature and decreasing rainfall is damaging to crop realized increased net revenues.
production like teff. Should the trend in climate variability
continues, it will only increase food insecurity to already Access to climate information: Access to information on
vulnerable farmers. weather and climate is statistically significant (p=0.047)
with positive influence on net revenue. The results suggest
Climate adaptation: The results found that climate that access to weather and climate information increases
adaptation (p=000) was statistically significant with the probability of increasing net revenue, keeping other
positive impact to net revenue. The results suggest that factors constant. With access to information on weather
farm households who practiced adaptation strategies to and climate farmers are equipped with knowledge and
impacts of climate change had increased teff revenues, skills on improve farming activities to optimize returns from
keeping other factors constant. Those farm households crop production. Farmers with information on weather can
who practiced adaptation strategies had higher farm plant seeds early to take advantage of first rains and avoid
The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia
J. Agric. Econ. Rural Devel. 395

erratic and short rainy seasons. With access to extension obtain higher revenue per hectare than those in midlands
service, farmers are able to learn standard principles of followed by lowlands. Climate factors and adaptation to
agriculture to optimize returns from farming. climate change appear to be strong determinants in
influencing teff revenues. Therefore, adaptation strategies
Socio-economic variables: Results of the study found should be encouraged to assist teff farmers increase food
that land size (p=0.045) and livestock (p=0.018) security and reduce vulnerability from impacts of climate
statistically significant with positive influence on net change.
revenue. The results suggest therefore, that land size and
livestock keeping increases net revenue, keeping other
factors constant. Land constitutes the largest share of ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
agriculture assets in the study area as farmers’ livelihoods
are dependent on land. Normally, it is expected that bigger This work is an extract from a thesis submitted in partial
land size and keeping a large herd of animals is associated fulfillment of the requirement for the Master of Science
with wealth among farmers and tend to reduce Degree in Climate affairs at Mekelle University, Ethiopia
vulnerability to impacts of climate change. During periods on 25th June, 2016. The author would like to thank Dr.
of crop failure farmers sell animals or a portion of land to Tewodros Tadesse and Dr. Girmay Gebresamuel for their
earn some income for livelihood. advice and contribution towards this research work. Mr.
Frank Chirandu and all field officers engaged in the
Agro-ecology: The results found significant differences research through participation in questionnaire adjustment
across agro-ecological settings of the study area. and final enumeration are also commended. The author
Highlands (p=0.006) and midlands (p=0.082) were found would also like to thank Dr. Mtafu Manda for taking his time
to be statistically significant with positive influence to farm to review this paper and giving his constructive comments.
revenue. The results suggest that farm households in the Thanks should also go to members of staff at Institute of
highlands as well as the midlands have increased net Climate and Society (ICS) for their support. Finally, my
revenue, keeping other factors constant. The results as sincere gratitude goes to Prof. Wales Singini, Dean,
compared to the lowlands imply that more revenue per Faculty of Environmental Sciences at Mzuzu University,
hectare is gained in the highlands, followed by the Intra-ACP – Mobility Project for Crop Scientists for Africa
midlands as observed by a stronger p-value of the Agriculture (CSAA) for sponsorship.
highlands than the midlands. A study by Kurukulasuriya
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The Impact of Climate Change on Teff Production in Southeast Tigray, Ethiopia