Environment and development in Ethiopia: proceedings of the symposium of the Forum for Social Studies, Addis Ababa, 15- 16 September 2000
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In Ethiopia, a region representing a major world gene center, the various traditional agro-ecosystems constitute major in situ repositories of crop and animal diversity. Effective use of this invaluable resource promotes diversity of diet, source of income, stability of production, reduced pest and disease incidence and a safe and sustainable environment. This is especially true for resource-poor farmers practicing agriculture under low input conditions in marginal environments. There is also a serious threat of losses of diversity which requires major inputs to protect and sustainably utilize it. Farmers' varieties, largely represented by indigenous landraces, are among those suffering such losses. Developing ecologically and culturally based agricultural practices that raise land productivity while conserving and restoring the resource base is critical to ensure long term food and livelihood security of Ethiopia's rapidly growing population. This need becomes more significant as land holdings are becoming smaller and environments are degrading in the small scale farming sector. There is a unique opportunity for intervention in this regard through a fanners' seed promotion strategy which may draw on the experiences in Ethiopia, and other places in Africa.