Improved Potato Variety Demonstration Trail Changing the Lives of PSNP Farmers: BENEFIT-REALISE Arba Minch University (AMU)

Ashke Ena, a destitute 35 year-old widow and mother of five children was one of PSNP farmers selected for the BENEIT-REALISE Arba Minch University potato demonstration trail in Bola, Kutcha woreda. Even though she owns 0.125ha of land, she always struggled to feed her family and has been dependent on PSNP for years. Based on the finding of 2018 PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) study, one of the 2019 BENEFIT-REALISE AMU cluster interventions focused on introducing two improved potato varieties with an aim to minimize food gap months and improve the livelihood of the surrounding PSNP farmers. The intervention was successful in closing existing food gaps of selected PSNP farmers, giving them an opportunity to think beyond consumption to selling their produce to earn an income.

The intervention started by setting target criteria for farmer selection process that was shared with the woreda experts. The programme also provided 1qt of each improved potato variety, 0.25 quintal NPS and 0.25 quintal urea for the demonstration trails. With close collaboration with the woreda agronomists, the selected farmers were taught on appropriate agronomic practices to plant Belete variety on 0.0625 ha and Gudene variety 0.0625 ha. The land was prepared in March and row planting was done in April. The first-round weeding took place 15 days after planting and the second in May.

All the hard work paid off and Ashke was able to harvest 44.6 quintals from Belete variety and 33.4 quintals from Gudene variety, a total of 78 quintals. Askhe is very happy with the outcome. With a smile she said, “I earned 26,439Birr (input cost covered by the project) from my produce. With my new income I can make sure there is always food at home, and was able to even send money to my son for graduation. I am ready to replant some of my potatoes next year, applying all what I have learned. TOSA GELETA! Meaning Thank God!” Prior to harvest, farmers from different kebeles visited her farm to see the performance of the varieties and discuss lesson learned in the implementation process.

In addition, following BENEFIT-REALISE key objective of developing best fit practices towards increasing productivity and resilience, BENEFIT-REALISE experts collected necessary data throughout the implementation period to document evidences, address existing challenges (e.g. bacterial wilt, and pest) and influence farming practices for scaling in selected PSNP woredas.

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