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This study examined the livelihood strategies and food security situation of rural households around Derba Cement Factory by taking a randomly selected sample of 215 heads of farm households from three rural kebeles. A mixed research approach was employed to triangulate concurrently collected data through household survey, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Informed by the sustainable rural livelihood framework, descriptive statistics were used to describe rural households’ livelihood strategies and challenges they faced while inferential statistics was employed to explain households’ food security situations with different livelihood combinations. While mixed farming was found to be the mainstay of the household economy, small-scale irrigation and extracting forest products were also used as supplementary economic activities. More than a half of the respondents (52.5%) reported at least one non-farm activity. Land shortage was identified as a major constraint to expand crop production and this was further aggravated by the activities (e.g. querying leading to displacement) of the Derba Cement Factory. This further affected household labor allocation and natural resources utilization. The result of household food (in) security access scale indicated that 59% of the respondents have experienced food access insecurity in 2016. However, respondents who combined agriculture and non-farm activities appeared relatively more food secure than those engaged in agriculture alone or in non-farm activity only. Overall, households with multiple livelihood strategies had diverse food entitlements to maintain sustainable food consumption. Yet, necessity induced diversification was found to affect food access security of households. This calls for inclusive policies and strategies that integrate rural non-farm activities to subsistence farming in order to assure sustainable livelihood in rural communities.
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Effects of Vermicompost, Fertilizer and Mulch on Plant Growth, Nodulation and Pod Yield of French Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)
Integration of vermicompost and organic mulch as elements of vegetable production system sustain soil fertility and crop productivity. A field experiment was conducted with the objective to investigate the effects of vermicompost, NPK fertilizer and organic mulch on crop growth, nodulation and pod yield of French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) with an ultimate aim of optimizing water and nutrient requirement in mild-tropical climate during dry season. The shoot growth traits, namely shoot length, number of primary branches, shoot fresh weight and shoot dry weight were increased by 28-63% through application of N P2O5 K2O 8:13:10 kg·ha-1 + vermicompost 3.75 t·ha-1 and by 5-50% in organic mulching treatments. Application of vermicompost reduced nodule fresh weight and nodule dry weight by 44.9 and 44.5%, respectively. Likewise, corresponding nodule number, nodule fresh weight and nodule dry weight were reduced by 8.6, 11.1 and 14.1% with organic mulching. Poor nodulations might be due to reduced oxygenation of the soils under vermicompost and organic mulch which is ultimately impeding the nitrogenase activity and biological nitrogen fixation. Mulching of French bean with dried grasses and crop residues are also led to higher single pod weight, pod length, pod weight/plant and pod yield by 10.9, 12.8, 20.1 and 20.2%, respectively. Present study shows that application of N P2O5 K2O fertilizer 8-15:13-25:10-20 kg·ha-1, vermicompost 2.50-3.75 t·ha-1, 4 cm thick mulch of dried crop residues and 50% irrigation is the most suitable and sustainable strategy to improve plant growth, pod formation and pod yield of French bean, and soil health of mild-tropical climate during dry season.
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