Field Visits to BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster operational areas
BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster held two field visits to promote the programme interventions, on maize-haricot bean intercropping practices and introduction of new improved potato and faba bean varieties in Kachabira woreda. The filed visits and discussions took place on September 4 in Kachabira woreda and on 27th of September in Siliti woreda. The events were valuable to (i) promote intercropping to improve productivity, soil fertility and nutrition of households; (ii) demonstrate the performance of new improved potato and faba bean varieties; (iii) share knowledge among key stakeholders; (iii) collect feedback from partners and beneficiary farmers; and (iv) promote BENEFIT-REALISE programme interventions. The events contribute to BENEFIT-REALISE crop and forage production and management pathway.
In Silti woreda, the method of row maize-haricot bean intercropping is new to 90% of the farmers. Considering that 80% of the land is covered with maize, incorporating bean in the intercropping practice will contribute towards improving food and nutrition security. The visits were valuable to increase the understanding of the surrounding small holder farmers on the benefits of intercropping and to consider it as a viable option to maximize yield from their land. The intervention is also expected to improve dietary diversity and reduce the application of artificial fertilizers by using natural processes such a nitrogen fixation and application of inoculants. The introduction of new improved potato variety in Kachabira woreda is also expected to increase access to seed tubers of improved potato varieties and facilitate seed exchange among farmers.
Both events show that using high yielding and adaptable crops, improved agronomic practices and improved varieties contribute to reducing food gap months of PSNP households by increasing yield.
The Silit intervention was visited by over 60 participants while the Kachabira woreda gathered over 45 participants representing Zonal and Woreda level high government officials from Agriculture and Food Security Offices, agriculture experts and extension workers, and PSNP farmers from nearby kebeles and woredas. During the visit, briefing on demonstration and yield advantages and agronomic practices were provided.
Overall the farmers expressed their appreciation of the new practices and new varieties introduced and expressed their interest in trying new root and tuber crops and OPV maize. Zonal and Woreda officials agreed to work with the programme on pre-scaling the practices to the surrounding areas. In the coming year, the programme will put emphasis in strengthening seed supply of selected varieties specific to the areas.