Family size (FSZ): It is a continuous variable which refers to the number of family members of the household. Studies argued that larger family size tends to exert more pressure on households consumption than the labor it contributes to production (Stephen & Samuel, 2013; Mequanent et al, 2014). Therefore, this study hypothesized that larger household size is expected to affect extent food insecurity positively.
Educational level of head of household (EDUC): It is continuous variable measured in years of schooling of the household head. Education is a social capital, which could impact positively on household ability to take good and well-informed production and nutritional status (Babatunde, 2007). Besides, Amaza et al (2006) argued that households with higher years of schooling less likely to be food insecure as it enables them to produce more and consume more. Thus, this study hypothesized that higher year of schooling is expected to affect extent of food insecurity negatively.
Livestock ownership (Excluding oxen and donkey): It is a continuous variable measured by the number of Tropical Livestock Unit (TLU). Livestock are important source of food and income for rural households. Households with more livestock produce more milk, milk products and meat for direct consumption. Besides, livestock enables the farm households to have better chance to earn more income from selling livestock and livestock products which enables them to purchase stable food during food shortage and invest in purchasing of farm inputs that increase food production, and ensuring household food security (Mitiku et al, 2012). Livestock possession mitigates vulnerability of households during crop failures and other calamities (Abafita and Kim, 2014). Thus, this study hypothesized that owning more TLU of livestock is expected to have negative effect on extent of food insecurity of households.
Number of oxen and donkey owned (OXKEY): It is a continuous variable measured in numbers owned. Oxen and donkey serve as a source of traction power in many developing countries, thereby significantly affect household’s crop production. Animal traction power enables households to cultivate their land; others land through renting, share cropping, and to execute agricultural operations timely that will enhance households access to food items (Muche et al, 2014). Accordingly, in this study more number of oxen and donkey owned by a household is expected to affect the extent of food insecurity negatively.
Frequency of extension contact: It is a continuous variable measured in number of visits by extension agent per year. More frequent extension contact enhances households’ access to better crop production techniques, improved input as well as other production incentives and these helps to improve food energy intake status of households (Amaza et al, 2006). Accordingly, in this study more number of extension contacts is expected to affect extent of households’ food insecurity negatively.
Cultivated Land size: It is a continuous variable which refers to the total land cultivated by a household in the past one year production period. A larger size of cultivated land implies more production and availability of food grains (Mitiku et al, 2012). Higher production and the increased availability of grains produced helps in insuring food security status of households (Asmelash, 2014). Hence, size of cultivated land is expected to have negative impact on extent of food insecurity.
Access to credit: It is a dummy variable, which takes the value 1 if the household had access to credit and 0 otherwise. Availability of credit eases the cash constraints and allows farmers to purchase inputs such as fertilizer, improved crop varieties, and irrigation facilities; which in turn enhance food production and ultimately increase household food energy intake (Getinet, 2011, unpublished; Stephen ; Samuel (2013)). In this study it was expected to affect extent of households’ food insecurity negatively.
Off/Non-farm income: It is a continuous variable which measures the amount of cash income obtained by any household member from off-farm and non-farm activities measured in Birr. Studies argued that households with higher off-farm and non-farm income are less likely to be food insecure as it enables them to purchase different food items to satisfy their family requirement (Beyene and Muche, 2010; Getinet, 2011). Thus, off/non-farm income is expected to affect extent of food insecurity negatively.
Farm income (INCOM): This is a continuous variable which measures the amount of income obtained from crop production and livestock rearing measured in Birr. According to Beyene and Muche (2010) pointed out, the more household heads engaged in farming employment, the higher the income they earn and the greater chances of being food secure. Household heads having large farm income are more likely to purchase different food items to satisfy their family food demand. Thus, for this study farm income is hypothesized to affect food security status of households’ positively and extent of food insecurity negatively.
Access to irrigation: It is a dummy variable taking the value 1 if the farmers have access to irrigation and 0, otherwise. Irrigation, as one of the technology options available, enables smallholder farmers to directly produce consumable food grains and/or diversify their cropping and supplement moisture deficiency in agriculture and in doing so, it helps to increase production and food consumption (Van der Veen ; Tagel (2011); Getinet, 2011). Thus, in this study it is expected to have negative impact on extent of households’ food insecurity.
Dependency ratio: It refers to the proportion of economically inactive labor force(less than 15 and above 65 years old) to the active labor force (between 15 and 65 years old (Velazco, 2003). Due to scarcity of resources, higher dependency ratio imposes burden on the active and inactive member of household to fulfill their immediate food demands (Muche, 2009). Besides, higher dependency ratio indicates that the labor force is small, with a constraint on the household per capita income and consumption, which also influences the wellbeing of the household members. In this study, it was expected to positively affect extent of households’ food insecurity.
Cost of inputs: It is continuous variable measured in birr by converting the amount of the agricultural input used (such as fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, chemicals, and other agricultural implements.) into monetary value based on their market price. Investing higher amount of money on farm inputs helps farmers to increase their crop production and livestock breed (Arene and Anyaeji, 2010). In this study, it was expected to affect extent of households’ food insecurity negatively.
Age of head of household: It is a continuous variable measured in years. Many studies argued that young households’ heads are stronger and energetic than elderly households as they are expected to cultivate larger-size farm and obtain high yield (Abafita and Kim, 2014; Babatunde, 2007). Hence, in this study age of the household head is expected to affect extent of food insecurity negatively.
Sex of head of household: It is dummy variable taking the value 1 if the sex of household is male and 0, otherwise. As to Baten and Khan (2010) finding, female-headed households can find it difficult than men to gain access to valuable resource, which helps them to improve production and gain more income, this in turn increases their probability of being food insecure. Thus, in this study, it is expected to negatively affect extent of households’ food insecurity.