The Use of Biofertilizer by Smallholder Farmers and its Impact on Productivity of Pulse- Cereal Cropping System in Arsi Zone, Oromia Regional State, Southeastern Ethiopia

  • Nigussie Alemayehu Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
Keywords: Cereal crops; crop rotation; faba bean; pulse crops; seed inoculation with rhizobium; wheat and barley


Commercial production and distribution of biofertilizer for increasing yields of
pulse crops in Ethiopia started as recently as two decades ago after the agricultural research
system began working on biofertilizer. Consequently, farmers have been inoculating seeds of
pulse crops with rhizobium bacteria to get higher yields using rhizobium strains disseminated
by the research system. Similarly, smallholder farmers in Lemu Bilbilo and Digelu Tijo
district (woredas) of Arsi Zone of the Oromia Regional State in southeastern Ethiopia have
been inoculating faba bean and field pea seeds with rhizobium bacteria for increasing yields
of the crops since 2010. However, there is no empirical evidence for agronomic and
agroecological benefits that the farmers obtain from using the technolgy. Therefore, a
methodical assessment was done to investigate the effects of biofertilizer (seed inoculation
with rhizobium) on the productivity of faba bean and subsequently grown wheat and barley
crops and the benefits that farmers obtain in terms of yield and sustainability of the farming
system. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from four kebeles in the two
woredas through focus group discussions (FGD) and key informant interviews (KII)
involving 150 farmers, agricultural experts, development agents, researchers, and community
leaders. The results revealed that smallholder farmers who planted rhizobium-inoculated faba
bean seed gained additional yield benefits of 79%, 66%, and 42% for faba bean, wheat, and
barley, respectively, over farmers who planted uninoculated seeds. In addition, farmers
reported that they derived a range of other benefits which included improved soil fertility,
need for lower amounts of nitrogen fertilizers to produce cereals, low faba bean disease
incidence, more biomass production for returning to land as a crop residue, and larger-sized
faba bean seeds that take shorter time to cook. The farmers also reported an opportunity to
grow faba bean profitably on less fertile land. It is concluded that planting rhizobiuminoculated
faba bean seed significantly increased the yields of all three crops grown in the
rotation system, with significant implications for enhanced agroecological benefits and
sustainabile pulse-cereal production system.

Author Biography

Nigussie Alemayehu, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research


Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), P.O. Box 2003, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia



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