Agriculture continues to be a strategic sector in the development of most low-income nations. Despite extreme climate conditions, agriculture plays a major role in the development of the economy, eradication of poverty, sustainable growth, and modernization of society in Sub-Saharan Africa. About 75% of Ethiopiaâ€™s landmass is categorized as dryland, which is home to about one-third of the countryâ€™s population. There is a growing concern of vulnerabilities of food insecurity, droughts, water stress, land degradation, and malnutrition in dryland regions of Ethiopia. This article reviews on the key opportunities of dryland agriculture and summarizes the best techniques for dryland agriculture to cope with these vulnerabilities. Drylands are areas where most of the worldâ€™s poor lives, which is characterized by extreme rainfall variability, recurrent but unpredictable droughts, high temperature, and low soil fertility. In terms of the absolute amount of rainfall, drylands are areas between 0 and 600 mm of rainfall per year, where the rainfall is less than 40% of the potential evapotranspiration. In terms of temperature, drylands are areas with an average temperature of at least 80Â°F (27Â°C). Many of the upland soils in the tropical dryland areas are sandy, often gravelly and generally shallow, which cannot increase production level without raising the fertility level. Agricultural diversification, livestock raring, and implementing commercial orientation agricultural practices are major opportunities that allow dryland communities to improve their livelihood and to reap more than one harvest a year. Dryland agriculture needs to adopt best techniques and technologies such as reducing the loss of soil moisture; reducing loss of soil nutrient; implementing good tillage practices; conservation agriculture; adoption of improved varieties of seed; agricultural intensification; mixed farming system; and scaling-up micro-irrigation at farm levels; which results in improvement of soil fertility and food production, thus boost food security. Whereas, development of dryland agriculture in Ethiopia should require synergies among researches, technologies, marketing systems, input supplies, credit, and policies.
Keywords: Drylands, Dryland Agriculture, Opportunities, Best Practices, Vulnerabilities