Pre-scaling of bread wheat featured at BENEFIT-REALISE WDU cluster field day
On 1st of November 2019, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University Cluster (WDU) organized a one day field visit to showcase the successes achieved in pre-scaling of bread wheat (Ogolcho) in North Wollo Zone, Amhara Region. The delegation visited 23ha clustered wheat farm in Meket Woreda, where 60 PSNP farmers (55 men and 5 women) were engaged in improved bread wheat pre-scaling activity to increase wheat production towards improving food security in the area. The field visit that was followed by stakeholders’ discussion was attended by over 50 officials and experts including North Wollo Zonal Administration Head, N. Wollo Bureau of Agriculture Head, Sirinka Agricultural Research Centre (SARC) experts, Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) Deputy Director, Woldia University Community Service and Research, extension workers, BENEFIT-REALISE staff and the media.
The visit started with a welcoming remark by Berhanu Terefe, Woreda Office of Agriculture r Head and Woldetensa Mekonnon, Zonal Administration Head. They both appreciated the programme’s efforts in introducing new improved bread wheat varieties and good agricultural practices that is transforming wheat production in the area. That was followed by a brief remark by Baye Getahun, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU Cluster Manager, who gave an overview of the programme activities in Amhara region and the collaboration between SARC and the woreda BoA that made this activity a success.
The pre-scaling activity started with consultations with the Woreda office of Agriculture (WoA) responsible for clustering smallholder farmers and SARC for identify improved varieties that are optimal for Meket Wordas. Upon the recommendation of SARC, the programme acquired the improved seed that has a potential to produce 52-60quintals per ha (research trial) and distributed it among 60 PSNP farmers. The programme also provided best agronomic practices trainings and technical support throughout the season in collaboration with the woreda and Kebele office of Agriculture.
During the field visit, the group heard testimonies from farmers who benefited from the pre-scaling activity. Ennana Muchaye said “So far the variety looks good. We have learned new things like row planting, use of recommended fertilizer and the need to weed three times. It started slow at first but grew very fast and it looks like we will be getting good yield.”
Another issue that was raised repeatedly related to wheat rust and other diseases that is continuously undermining the wheat production in the area. Tamirat Tesfaye, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU Agronomist said, “The area is susceptible to fungal disease such as Yellow Rust and Take-all disease affecting the roots of the crop. These are mostly caused by excessive rain the mono-cropping practice of the farmers in the area. In addition to introducing new disease-resistant varieties more work should be done in applying good agronomic practices, such as extensive weed control and introduce crop rotation where possible.” Other issues discussed included the need for close follow-up to ensure farmers follow the trainings provided and tasks needed to increase the crop suitability to be used as seed for the next season.
At the end of the visit, a meeting was held to share BENEFIT-REALISE 2019 activities and discuss the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in increasing bread wheat production in the region. The workshop was a great opportunity to discuss exiting challenges related to quality seed demand and supply, seed multiplication, use of pesticide to address crop disease challenge and soil acidity and fertility. The participants also discussed opportunities in pre-scaling improved variety potato, following the successful demonstration of the programme.
The Woreda BoA Administrator and Zonal Administration Head appreciated BENEFIT-REALISE’s efforts that are creating enabling environments to resolve key issues related to getting technologies to farmers. BENEFIT-REALISE Manager, Dr. Tewodros Tefera on his part noted the need to identify crop and technology game changers and talked about the programme’s 2020 plan that will focus on working with agricultural research centers and offices of Agriculture to address existing seed issues through joint validation, commodity clustering and pre-scaling activities. Woldia University Community Service and Research Deputy Head Dr. Solomon closed the discussion by thanked all for attending and emphasized the relevance of strengthening the link between Office of Agriculture, research and the university to better understand the roles and responsibilities of each to increase wheat production in Amhara region, contributing towards making Ethiopia wheat self-sufficient.