Factors determining the degree of commercialization of smallholder agriculture: the case of potato growers in Kombolcha District, East Hararghe, Ethiopia
Karippai, Ranjan S.
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Potato is one of the most valuable and widely consumed crops in the world in general and in Ethiopia in particular. Similarly, in Kombolcha District, it is among the most important crops grown for sale and consumption by smallholder farmers. Commercializing such crops does have multiple benefits for the smallholder farmers of the district as the district has great potential for commercial vegetable production and there is a growing market opportunity for the products. However, potato growing smallholders in the district are producing at a subsistence level and their participation in the market (degree of commercialization) is not only low but also varies across the district. Hence, this study was initiated to identify factors determining the extent of market participation (degree of commercialization) of potato growers. Five potato growing Peasant Associations (PAs) were selected purposively from a total of 10 Peasant Associations and subsequently 133 respondents were selected using simple random sampling from the sampling frame i.e. potato growers. A formal survey was conducted to collect data, which was supported by focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Both descriptive statistics and Robust OLS model were employed to analyze quantitative 1 Lecturer, Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Extension, Haramaya University, Ethiopia 2 Postdoctoral fellow, International Livestock Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 3 Professor, Department of Rural Development and Agricultural Extension, Haramaya University, Ethiopia JAD 2 (1) 2011 Factors Determining the Degree of Commercialization 19 data; whereas qualitative data were analyzed using narrations and interpretations. The OLS results indicated that farm size allocated to potato, access to irrigation and access to market information were found to be significant in affecting extent of market participation (degree of commercialization) at 1 % probability level. Hence, organizing farmers into groups in order to have better access to irrigation, providing market information through networking and institutions and improving extension service and availing improved varieties, overall, modernizing potato production are therefore crucial in enhancing the extent of market participation (the degree of commercialization).