Concerning Debark woreda to enhance the overall agricultural

Concerning
the use of improved seeds, it was found out that very few improved varieties
are available in the study area. The survey result revealed 73.5% of the sample
households did not use improved seeds whereas 26.5% of the sample households
used improved seeds. When we compare the two groups, 80.7%
and 4.9% of food secure and insecure households used improved seeds, respectively
while 19.3% and 95.1% of food secure and insecure household did not use
improved seeds, respectively. The chi-square result showed a statistically
significant association between household food insecurity and use of improved
crop varieties at (c2 =8.27,
p<0.01). Furthermore, appropriate application of modern farm inputs: chemical fertilizers, improved seeds and herbicides increases crop productivity. The importance of modern farm inputs becomes more significant in highly eroded soils and fragile environments like Debark woreda to enhance the overall agricultural production. In this regard, households were asked whether they used modern farm inputs since last year (2014). About 69.5% of the sample households reported that they did not use chemical fertilizers. As fertilizer usage decreases the household becomes more food insecure. Consistently, the chi-square analysis also indicated a significant association between household food insecurity and application of chemical fertilizer at (c2 =5.271, p<0.01).  Moreover, in areas like Debark where drought-induced famine and food insecurity chronically persist and widespread, livestock and crop production alone is not enough to fulfill the households food security. Hence, with such limited conditions off-farm activities are needed as alternatives to address the situation of food insecurity. However, the result showed that the majority (68%) of the households did not participate in off-farm activities. When we compared food insecure and secure households about 37% and 19.3% of the sample households engaged in off-farm activities, respectively. The result from chi-square showed a significant association between household food insecurity and engaging in off-farm activities at (c2 =4.86, p<0.01).  In addition, the availability of agricultural credit to subsistence farmers who have little or no capital is an important component of small farm development programs. However, the farm credit is related with chemical fertilizer distributed through service cooperatives. Yet, very few of the farmers have had access to Amhara Credit and Saving Institution. In line with this, of the total households, 32% of them had access to farm credit while 68% did not have access to farm credit. The chi-square result showed a significant association between household food insecurity and access to farm credit at (c2 =5.911, p<0.01). Besides, in the study area, agricultural extension personnel who were trained in agricultural fields were assigned at rural kebeles. The extension program requires farmers to use package of chemical fertilizer, farm credit etc. The result revealed that 74.5% of the sample farming households has been users of agricultural extension services while 25.5% of them did not use extension services. When we compared food insecure and secure households' about 71.3% and 82.4% households got support from extension agents however the result of chi-square showed no significant relationship between household food insecurity and access to agricultural extension service at (c2=2.656p>0.1).

Similarly,
the educational level of the sampled household heads was assessed. The result
(Table 5) indicated that 71.5% were illiterate while the remaining 28.5% were
literate. The survey result also indicated that 32.9% of the food insecure and
17.6% of the food secure households were literate. The chi-square result also revealed
a statistically significant association between household food insecurity
and educational level at (c2=4.696,
p<0.05).  Regarding the marital status of the household heads the study found out that the majority (79.5%) of the sample households were married while others (20.5%) were unmarried. When we compare the marital status of food insecure and secure households 83% and 70% were married, respectively. When independently observed the chi-square result showed a significant association between household food insecurity and marital status at (c2 =4.253, p<0.05). Table 5 indicates household food insecurity characteristics based on discrete variables. According to the survey result, 80.5% of the sample households were male headed and the rest (19.5%) were female headed. As can be seen in Table 5, male and female headed food insecure households accounted 84% and 16%, respectively and. The chi-square result also indicated a significant association between the two groups in terms of sex of household heads as shown by (c2=3.73, p<0.1).

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