Spatially explicit dataset on crop status of 262 farm plots in Tigray (24-29 August 2022)

DOI

Since late 2020, one of the worst wars has been raging in Tigray, Ethiopia's northernmost region. A humanitarian tragedy has been caused by the fighting (Dedefo Bedaso 2021; Annys et al. 2021). Intense fighting occurred throughout the whole region, and looting and damage were rampant. Farmers were harvesting their crops in the middle of a desert locust infestation when the conflict began in late 2020. To record war impacts, commonly, direct expenses or losses at a particular period are quantified (Lindgren 2004). Post-conflict damage assessments typically concentrate on losses to businesses, services, infrastructure, and facilities in cities, even though the primary source of income in developing countries is the agricultural sector. Even when agricultural evaluations are done, they mostly focus on crop losses and ignore how wars affect land management. In Tigray's small-scale family farms, which use a permanent farming system based on cereals, oxen are utilized for traction (Westphal 1975). Crop agriculture has been practiced in Tigray for at least three thousand years (D'Andrea 2008; Blond et al. 2018), allowing for the gradual improvement of the agricultural system, including considerable farmers' understanding of the procedures involved in seed selection and of land suitability (Fetien Abay et al. 2008). The indigenous knowledge (sensu Bruchac 2018) also includes a broad vocabulary for different soil types (Nyssen et al. 2019), and the capacity to interpret the rainy season when selecting the crop to be sown (Frankl et al. 2013). A significant degree of equality in the extent of landholdings has resulted from the strengthening of the egalitarian land tenure system during the 1980s (Hendrie 1999). In the study region, a typical household uses two or three farmland pieces totalling less than a hectare. The ownership and management of grasslands, rangelands, and woodlands are communal (Nyssen et al. 2008). In the first half of 2021, armed forces of the Ethiopian government and from Eritrea as well as from the neighboring Amhara region were engaged in warfare against the forces of Tigray's regional government; in the second half of the year, warfare was essentially outside of Tigray, more to the south, while Tigray itself was submitted to a blockade with all telecommunication and lifelines to the outside world cut (Pellet 2021; Gayim 2021; Ramos 2021), a blockade that continued into 2022. The near-absence of economic activities, combined with limited food stocks and restricted humanitarian access resulted in 70% of the population experiencing starvation (sensu Stratton et al. 2003), i.e. high levels of acute food insecurity and excess mortality (Plaut 2021; Istratii 2021; Teklehaymanot G Weldemichel 2021; Oxford Analytica 2021; Devi 2021; Müller and Read 2021). The famine was worst from September to December 2021, as it took up to December before the years' poor harvest could be consumed REF; the lean period (also called “lean season”, “hunger season”) has been very severe. The lean season is the time in between finishing the last food that people had at hand and starting to consume the new harvest (Hirvonen et al. 2016). Farmers' main goals in these dire circumstances were to attempt to generate a better harvest in 2022 and, despite everything, to try and survive another year. We offer field data obtained by the end of August 2022, which were evaluated to determine the percentage of Tigray's land that was seeded on schedule, the types of crops sown, and the condition of these crops. Despite difficult living and travel conditions, the agricultural status in some of Tigray's reachable districts was examined for the 2022 growing season. A team of geographers visited 262 agricultural plots in an area indicative of the region's diverse bio-physical circumstances, including elevation (plots ranged from 1931 to 2600 meters above sea level), lithology, soil type, rainfall patterns, and hence cropping strategies (Alemtsehay Tsegay et al. 2019; Nyssen et al. 2019). Other land uses, such as irrigated land, grassland, barren land, bushland, and forest, were left out of the analysis. We visited ecoregions with different biophysical and agro-ecological characteristics along main roads in six districts between 24 and 29 August 2022: Tsa'ida Imba, Kilte Awula'ilo (especially croplands on the outskirts of Wukro's urban district), Dogu'a Tembien (surroundings of Hagere Selam), Samre, Hintalo (particularly Addi Gudom), and Inderta (Aynalem and Didiba). The investigations typically took place in the wider surroundings of small towns, as transect walks, observing and talking to farmers present on the land. Participatory monitoring was used to collect data for each cropland, which included recording the crop type, a group assessment of the crop's status according to local standards (good, medium, bad, failed; taking into account growth features such as plant height, greenness and density, ear length, homogeneity in crop stand), observations of whether or not neighboring farmers cropped in block, and a semi-structured interview with the farmer or a group discussion, addressing among others the use of fertilizer (Van De Fliert et al. 2000; Nyumba et al. 2018; Young and Hinton 1996). Aside from the usual crop evaluation, emphasis was paid to block wise cropping with adjacent farmers since, like three-field systems, this practice is an indicative of an internally well-organized community, and hints to a superior yield forecast as it prevents disruptions (Nyssen et al. 2008; Hopcroft 1994; Ruthenberg 1980). Data have been collected in such a way that homogeneous areas of at least 30 m x 30 m are represented, so that they can serve as calibration and validation points in remote sensing analysis. According to descriptive statistics from the dataset, at the end of August, 15% of the monitored farm parcels had been left fallow, meaning no crops had been planted (40 plots out of 262). During a similar monitoring in 2021 (Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes et al. 2022a), 21% of the monitored lands were fallowed. However, 7 percent of the fallow plots had no weeds, indicating that the ground had been ploughed but not seeded. A further 4% of the plots were planted with flax or niger seed, which is often used to improve fallow soil quality rather than crop output. Among the cultivated parcels, 104 plots (40%) were planted with wheat, barley, or a mixture of both (hanfets) (49% in 2021), while 84 plots (32%) were planted with tef (26% in 2021). Only 1% of the land was planted with maize, and another 1% with sorghum (6% and 4% in 2021). In the plots containing crops that were examined, 46% had been seeded in block, in collaboration with the owners of surrounding lands (40% in 2021). Wheat and barley (54%) as well as tef (52%) were seeded in blocks. Three quarter (76 percent) of the wheat and barley fields were in good or medium condition. Seventy-one percent of the tef lands were in poor condition (67% in 2021). Overall, the crop stands improved slightly over those of the very bad year 2021 (Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes et al. 2022b), and there was less fallowing. Fertilizer was used on only 56 of the 222 sampled plots with crop: on these lands, at least some mineral fertilizer was administered at sowing, after crop emergence, or manure was applied. Due to a shortage of fertilizers, farmers frequently applied insufficient amounts. Mineral fertilizer was used exclusively for cereal production. A significant issue was the farmers' inappropriate use of potassium fertilizer, which led to crop burn, particularly in Tsa'ida Imba and Samre. Overall, and adopting a very low threshold, 34% of the analyzed lands were fallowed or are expected to provide a very poor crop harvest, while 66% of the sampled fields are promising and would yield medium or excellent crops.

Identifier
DOI https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.951344
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Metadata Access https://ws.pangaea.de/oai/provider?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=datacite4&identifier=oai:pangaea.de:doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.951344
Provenance
Creator Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes; Hailemariam Meaza; Zbelo Tesfamariam; Emnet Negash; Nyssen, Jan ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 2022
Funding Reference NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration https://doi.org/10.13039/100000104 Crossref Funder ID 80NSSC17K0625 https://govtribe.com/award/federal-grant-award/project-grant-80nssc17k0625
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
OpenAccess true
Representation
Resource Type Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 2096 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (39.158W, 13.188S, 39.608E, 14.052N); Africa, Ethiopia