Commercialising teff in Ethiopia: A risk simulation game

Smallholder commercialisation is constrained by systemic risks. Business models to reduce these risks focus on correcting market failures but pay less attention to risks from natural shocks. We developed a replicable business model (RBM) to reduce market risks for the commercialisation of teff in South Wollo Zone, Amhara region, Ethiopia. To test the robustness of this RBM to natural shocks, we designed a risk simulation gameto capture the impact of variable rainfall on teff production and commercialisation. We captured farmers’decision-making for four rainfall scenarios and three levels of market prices.

The game showed that variable rainfall had little impact on the levels of teff production or commercialisation. In a failed Belg season or in a late Meher season, farmers adapted by varying the area planted to teff and the share of teff that received inorganic fertiliser. The exception was the scenario where rainfall failed in both crop seasons. However, the probability of this scenario is low. Resource constraints – particularly shortage of land – limited farmers’ production of teff. However, the game revealed that farmers will increase teff sales in response to higher prices. The risk simulation game provides a diagnostic tool to evaluate the performance of the RBM and the wider potential for smallholder commercialisation in the face of natural shocks.

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