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Towards Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the Ethiopian Highlands: Proceedings of the Technical Workshop on Improving the Natural Resources Base and Rural Well-Being:

Editors: Alemneh Dejene, Gete Zeleke, Solomon Abate and Mekonnen Lule

56 pp. 5 Figures, 5 Tables, 1 Annex Environment and Natural Resources Working Paper No. 18

The Ethiopian highlands comprise nearly 45 percent of the total land area and support over 85 percent of the country's 64 million people that are overwhelmingly rural. The highlands are the centre of economic activity of the country and are characterized by enormous ecological, environmental, agricultural and cultural diversity. The Ethiopian highlands have also significant global environmental importance as being the source of some important transboundary rivers, notably the Blue Nile, and host a wide variety of flora and fauna that are rich in biodiversity. There is severe degradation of the natural resources base that is fundamental to the achievement of sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) and these highlands will not be able to produce and sustain livelihoods if the current trend of intensive cultivation, overgrazing and deforestation, soil erosion and soil fertility decline, lack of water control, shortage of livestock feed continue unabated.

The Workshop was conducted in the Amhara Region in collaboration with the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), which provides a classic representation of the challenges and the opportunities facing the Ethiopian highlands. The Workshop brought together leading Ethiopian and international experts from diverse institutions within and outside Ethiopia such as relevant government agencies, agricultural research institutes, universities, local non-governmental organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The Workshop identified key intervention areas that have both global and national significance in terms of improving the natural resources base, restoring ecosystem balance and enhancing food security and SARD. Specifically, it recommended initiating on-the-ground pilot activities through integrated and community driven approaches that would address soil and land degradation; water control; forest and woodland management; alternative sources of rural energy; livestock management; biodiversity management and conservation, and development of wetland ecosystem and protected areas.

Key Words: sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD); watershed management; ecosystem management; mountain ecosystem; wetland ecosystem; natural resources management; food security; livelihood; non-farm employment; deforestation; agroforestery; fuelwood; bioenergy/biofuel/biogas; livestock and pasture improvement; water harvesting; irrigation; biodiversity; endemic plants; endangered birds and animals; wildlife; Lake Tana basin; Borkena-Robi catchments; the Blue Nile River basin; the Simen Mountains National Park.

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