Guiding soil characterization and mapping activities in Ethiopia

Soil characterization and mapping taskforce, established to support and guide soil characterization and mapping activities in Ethiopia held its first meeting on March 4, 2019, at Pyramid Hotel in Bishoftu. The taskforce, funded by BENEFIT-REALISE programme is a team assigned on 21 Jan 2019 by H.E Dr. Kaba Urgessa, the State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security, Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to ensure quality of soil characterization and mapping activities and institutionalize soil mapping methodology. The members of the taskforce are  drawn from MoA, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), BENEFIT Partnership progammes – CASCAPE and REALISE.

The first meeting of the taskforce focused on better understanding of BENEFIT-REALISE soil mapping activities, discuss the roles and responsibilities of the taskforce, and define core activities and approaches.

The meeting started with an overall discussion on institutionalization of soil mapping methodology – soil maps that include soil types across landforms, along with soil fertility maps, to support soil fertility and health management decision making. It was highlighted that soil maps are also used to develop recommendation maps, which in turn can be used for building appropriate technology scaling strategies.

The taskforce discussed and agreed on:

  • ToR of the taskforce,
  • Frequency of meetings of the taskforce,
  • Identification process of the soil surveyors and assistant surveyors,
  • Importance and involvement of GIS experts,

Scale of the map whether to use 1:50,000 or 1:250,000 needs further discussion and decision.  In addition, the use of machine learning which also encompasses random forest model needs further discussion.

During the meeting Ato Kiflu Gudeta, Director for Soil Information and Mapping Directorate of MOA, was officiated as the chairperson of the taskforce while BENEFIT-REALISE will serve the taskforce as a secretariat.

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