Author Archives: BENEFIT Partnership

BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Provided Seed Marketing Training for Seed Producers

On February 20 & 21st 2018, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Programme organized a two-day training on seed marketing for public and private seed producers.  Nineteen (18 male and 1 female) managers and marketing experts, representing Ethiopian Seed Enterprise, Oromia Seed Enterprise, Amhara Seed Enterprise and private seed companies in Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR and Tigray Regional States attended the training held at Pyramid Resort, Bishoftu, Ethiopia.

The objectives of the training were to:

  • refresh the knowledge, understanding and skill of seed producers in seed marketing, including demand estimation and promotion
  • put seed companies on demand-driven seed production, marketing and distributions path
  • create opportunity for experience sharing among seed producers, and
  • raise awareness of the public seed enterprise to be more effective in giving services and make reasonable profit through effective marketing and distribution

The training was organized and facilitated by BENEFIT-ISSD Program Management Unit (PMU) as part of its objective to build the technical capacity of seed producers in seed production, processing, marketing and distribution.

At the end of the training, both public and private seed companies were motivated to use market oriented approach in seed production, marketing and distributions.  This will mean more seeds will be sold through direct seed marketing and enhanced promotion in 2018, leading to increased use of certified seed and hence decreased seed carry-over.  The training is also expected to contribute to a well-balanced public seed supply that meets the service demand (as part of its social obligation) and increase its profit margin to stay in business.

BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia facilitated a workshop in establishing a national early generation seed (EGS) production and supply system

On February 19 & 20, 2018, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Programme facilitated a workshop in establishing a national early generation seed production and supply system, at Pyramid Hotel, Bishoftu, Ethiopia.  The two-day workshop that focused on 2018 cropping season was attended by a total of 27 stakeholders (one female), representing the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR), Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Amhara Region Agricultural Research Institute, Oromia Agricultural Research Institute, South Agricultural Research Institute, Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, the four regional bureau of agriculture and natural resources, Ethiopia Seed Enterprise, Oromia Seed Enterprise, South Seed Enterprise and ISSD staff members. The workshop was organized and facilitated by BENEFIT-ISSD Project Management Unit in response to a special request from the MoANR to facilitate the establishment process.

In previous workshops, it was agreed the objective of the system will be to:

  • Ensure sustainable and demand driven early generation seed production and supply system in the country
  • Close the critical gap in early generation seed production, that is limiting certified seed production and thereby seed supply
  • Establish responsibility with full accountability for production of the four classes of seed (breeder seed, pre-basic seed, basic seed and certified seed)

To this effect, the workshop was conducted with the following objectives:

  • To review the four regions’ (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray) 2018 cropping season plan for early generation seed production and supply
  • To share experiences and learn from each other on how to plan for early generation seed production
  • To discuss and ensure that pertinent partners understand their responsibilities in planning for early generation seed production
  • Facilitate a demand driven planning for EGS production and supply for 2018 cropping season and beyond

The workshop started with regional and national presentations on their respective 2018 early generation seed production and supply plan, based on trend of demand from previous years, regional Growth and Transformation Plan, demand of seed producers and resources like land, budget and human. That was followed by group discussion, and plenary on sustainable way of planning for demand driven early generation seed production and supply. The planning process involved pertinent stakeholders including farmers, regional research institutes, regional seed enterprise, Ethiopia Seed Enterprise and private seed companies.

The workshop was a great opportunity to have an in-depth discussion on the approach and intended goal in exercising the planning process and marketing system development for EGS.

At the end of the workshop, the participants learned on best approach to use in the planning process, agree on when and how to finalize the national plan, built consensus on how the federal early generation seed demand producers fill the regional gaps, and agreed on how early generation seed marketing will be organized to ensure fair allocation of EGS to different seed producers.

BENEFIT CASCAPE & ISSD collaboration for home garden intervention in Ethiopia

Based on the lessons learnt from initial phase of CASCAPE home garden implementation, access to vegetable seed is one of the key challenges that can undermine the success of home garden intervention.  This issue was raised at the last gender and nutrition training held on February 15-17, 2018. Therefore, this training was organized to facilitate collaboration between BENEFIT-ISSD and BENEFIT-CASCAPE to carry out a seed systems investment in CASCAPE areas where vegetable home gardens are being promoted. ISSD has the potential to support CASCAPE with the methodology and training necessary to identify local sources for vegetable seeds and support in addressing potential constrains for farmers in sourcing those seeds.

The training was organized by BENEFIT-CASCAPE to share experiences and identify areas of collaboration in their respective planning process as well as to identify approaches that should be actively taken in 2018 planning. About 20 participants from national and regional cluster teams, including gender and rural development experts, gender and nutrition focal persons and researchers of ISSD and CASCAPE were part of the training.    The participants discussed about mainstreaming gender and nutrition in agricultural research and extension as well as the linkages of gender and nutrition in agriculture. The training was facilitated by two gender and nutrition advisors from WUR/CDI with the support of gender and nutrition expert from BENEFIT-PCU and gender and nutrition focal person from BENEFIT-CASCAPE national office.

The first day of the training was devoted to learning from ISSD experiences on how to shape gender mainstreaming in agriculture research and translate the lesson into actionable activities for CASCAPE.  The participants also discussed how to use labour saving technologies to promote gender equality and food security, and how to assess the contribution in CASCAPE projects.

The second day focused on nutrition sensitive agriculture. The morning session covered the nutrition situation in Ethiopia, why we pay attention for nutrition, multiple drivers of malnutrition and CASCAPE experience to address malnutrition in its target area through nutrition sensitive agriculture and translate the lessons to actions for ISSD.  In the afternoon the participants learned about the different pathways agriculture influences nutrition and examples of activities that can address issues related to them.  At the end of the day, participants discussed on the linkage of nutrition and gender and how the two concepts influence each other.

On the last day, participants identified potential areas that they can contribute in gender and nutrition in collaboration and in their respective program. Lastly, the participants appreciated CASCAPE’s effort in the BENEFIT collaborative engagement approach in conducting training in crosscutting activities and problem solving discussions.

Fish for Nutritional Security and Culinary Services

Contributed by Abebe Ameha, PhD

BENEFIT- ENTAG organized the Fifth Aquaculture Platform Meeting on the role of “Fish for Nutritional Security and Culinary Services” in Ethiopia. The platform meeting was held for half-day on 23rd November 2017 at Azzeman Hotel, Addis Ababa. The overall objective of the program was to promote the role of fish for nutritional security and as a business venture, and encourage fish quality standards as part of the aquaculture value chain in Ethiopia.

The general focus of the meeting was on addressing the various processes in the aquaculture value chain. Specifically, issues were revolving around the nutritional insecurity, preparation of fish food, supply and quality of fish products in Ethiopia.

The Guest of Honor, Mr Hussein Abegaz (Director for FRDD, MoLF) addressed the meeting in his opening speech, with emphasis given on the following message: “The potential for fish production from capture fisheries in Ethiopia is very limited as contrasted with the country’s ever-increasing human population and the high demand for fish. The per capita fish consumption in Ethiopia is less than 500 g. The government of Ethiopia and its partners are trying to develop the fish production and marketing sector through the GTP2. However, at all segments of the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, several challenges are hindering efficient implementation of development programs. Inputs for aquaculture (seed and feed), skilled manpower and financial requirements are the common constraints in the sub-sector. Nutritional requirements for children, women, the elderly and the work force of the country can in part be secured through sustainable aquaculture production systems. Fish culinary services have to develop as a new business venture with improved skills.” Mr Hussein wrapped his message by wishing fruitful deliberations during the panel discussion.

The key messages drawn from the meeting include the following.

  • The National Nutrition Policy of Ethiopia by itself is a great achievement in terms of tackling malnutrition problems in many parts of the society. This and other policies alone can’t ensure the final targets of provision of proper nutritional requirements and generation of income. Fish production and post-harvest processes need significant support from the government and the private sector.
  • Aquaculture development in Ethiopia requires special incentives from the government, for instance, in terms of tax exemption for imported fish feed. However, establishment of local fish feed processing industries as SMEs and large scale factories will be an ideal way out for this problem.
  • Extension work in aquaculture development is currently not enough; this has to be strengthened to the extent where substantial impact can be seen.
  • Fish culinary services at hotel and restaurants are regarded as one of the means to promote aquaculture development; in addition, new business opportunities are emerging as fish specialty restaurants.
  • The challenges in developing Ethiopian aquaculture are complex and throughout the value chain. Extensive effort is needed to tackle each of the fish production, processing, storage, transport, and cooking activities through skill development and establishing model systems.
  • The quantity, type (species) and quality of fish supplied to the end user is low. Nile tilapia and Nile perch are the most common fishes served in hotels and restaurants. More species of fish have to be produced in sufficient quantities and with acceptable quality standards. Fish cooking also has to follow appropriate procedures to maintain the nutritional content of the fish food.

The meeting addressed issues pertaining to aquaculture and fish marketing in the context of the National Nutrition Policy, food quality/standards control, demand/supply, and culinary services in Ethiopia. Oral talks were given by Dr Paulos Getachew, Assistant Professor at the Center for Food Science and Nutrition Research (Addis Ababa University) and Mr Fiseha Sisay, Executive Chef at the International Livestock Research Institute (Addis Ababa). Panel discussion was held with panelists from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Health Administration and Control Authority.  Representatives of the Triangular Aquaculture Mission from FAO (Rome), China and the Netherlands addressed the meeting about their aspirations to involve in capacity building programs in Ethiopian aquaculture. Members of the Mission also indicated that they learnt a lot about the status and complex challenges in the aquaculture value chain.

A total of 51 participants attended the meeting, comprising of 19 from private companies, three from PSAs, 6 from government sector organizations, 6 from research and education institutions, 8 from non-government and international organizations, and 9 from ENTAG/BENEFIT.

For more information on BENEFIT-ENTAG 5th round platforms you can find the 5th platforms newsletter on the below link .


LSB: The source of alternative seed supply

Contributed by : Gebrehawaria Berhane /MU-ISSD/

Wereda Endamekoni is one of the high land areas of southern zone in Tigray region. It is known for cereal production especially wheat even though farmers were affected by the lack of seed access. Before the government identified the wereda as a potential wheat cluster, farmers were active in producing, preserving and exchanging wheat crops among themselves in the absence of institutionalized seed cooperatives. Some farmers from Meswaeti Tabia tried to observe the experience of Local Seed Business (LSB) found in adjacent weredas.  Having such kind of indigenous knowledge and LSB experiences on wheat crop varieties, farmers organized themselves as LSBs mid-2013.

Biruhtesfa is one of the LSBs established with the same objective. The LSB had 50 founding members [14 females] with ETB 15,000 initial capital and 27.5 hectares of land as seed business startup.

Where Biruhtesfa is now?

After three years of engagement in seed multiplication and dissemination, Biruhtesfa currently has 114 members [30 females], over ETB 155,000 cash excluding fixed assets.   In addition, the LSB’s annual seed supply capacity increased from 358 quintals to 895 quintals in the last three years. More than those overall developments, the LSB and its members are equipped with experiences on how to multiply and disseminate quality seed for themselves and beyond.

Kahsay Hiluf is the chairperson and founding member of Biruhtesfa. Biruhtesfa is one of the 14 LSBs founding members of Hadnet Raya seed producer and marketing union cooperative PLC in the southern zone. The LSB bought one share with ETB 25,000 from Hadnet Raya seed producer union. Moreover, it has planned to buy another share with ETB 25,000 keeping the same procedures. Kahsay said that Meswaeti  Tabia has a total of 431 hectares of arable land. Out of this, 250 hectare is suitable for wheat seed multiplication. To use the opportunity, the LSB is in track to exploit the ISSD project’s capacity building efforts and financial support and also other research institutes. The training on cooperatives seed multiplication, marketing principles and advantages of having business plan given to the LSB by ISSD project staff are crucial for seed multiplication activities. The LSB is collecting certified seed from its members so as to deliver to Hadnet Raya seed producer and marketing union.

Major challenges faced

As the chairman stated, seed shortage, late seed delivery, unaffordable price, and knowledge gap among seed producer farmers are the major challenges the LSB faced so far.

Biruhtesfa and Way forward

The LSB’s future plan for 2018 includes:

  • Recruit 55 new members;
  • Prepare 12 hectares of additional land;
  • Increase the LSB’s capital to ETB 180,000;
  • Supply 1,500 quintals of seed to the union.
  • Purchase 70 quintals of basic seed and
  • Employ one professional accountant

Collaboration to work towards better impact

“Collaboration to work towards better impact”, this was said during the workshop organized in Mekele from December 5- 6, 2017 by BENEFIT partnership coordination unit in collaboration with CASCAPE Tigray Cluster. The workshop was organized with the purpose to review the progress of 2017 BENEFIT Partnership programs joint plan and for 2018 planning. In the workshop, it was emphasized on the need of collaboration for BENEFIT Partnership programs and it was said that the collaboration helps to complement and supplement each other, among others things knowledge, experience, resources (finance and human), expertise, time, technology, approaches and to work towards bigger impact.

Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager, said on his opening remark that this workshop is conducted annually in order to review the progress of the BENEFIT Programs who jointly work in Tigray and Amhara areas, celebrate the successes, discuss on the challenges, share learning and agree on the way forwards.

Consequently, the Tigray and Amhara BENEFIT joint plan intervention leaders presented the progress reports of Tigray and Amhara regions 2017 joint implementation status respectively and participants gave their appreciation on the progress. In addition, learning points during 2017 implementation were identified in order to inform the 2018 plan. A need for exercising bottom up planning, strengthening the integration of cross cutting issues, such as monitoring, communication, gender and nutrition in joint intervention, assignment of responsible staff and allocation of associated budget were some of points agreed as way forwards.

During the workshop, 30 participants that composed of all BENEFIT Program national and regional managers, regional/cluster coordinators and experts were participated. Currently ISSD, CASCAPE, SBN and ENTAG are working in collaboration in Northern part of Ethiopia under BENEFIT umbrella in order to improve food, income and nutrition security of rural households.

Blended fertilizer recommendation issues

Contributed by Mulugeta Diro(PhD)

BENEFIT- CASCAPE together with Soil Fertility Director of MoANR organized soil fertility platform meeting. The platform meeting was conducted on October 17, 2017 at Executive hotel, Adama. After involved in sites and crop specific blended fertilizer recommendation , BENEFIT-CASCAPE commissioned  a study to understand issues and constraints related to blend fertilizer recommendation and this meeting was organized to share and discusses the findings of the study to stakeholders.

Results of the study on issues and constraints related to blend fertilizer recommendation was presented to plenary by BENEFIT-CASCAPE and several questions and comments were raised and discussed. During the discussion time the main issued discussed and emphasesed was about the ‘critical value’ approach currently being adopted  which was found mainly misleading after soil test result in some areas. Large areas of the Ethiopian highlands are  labelled deficient of some major nutrients such as potassium and Boron, which is not consistent with soil test results conductd by BENEFIT-CASCAPE programme. In addition, blend fertilizer recommendations are still blanket and needs to be refined. Validation of critical levels is needed specific to crop type based on crop response trials and plant tissue analysis.

During the meeting it was agreed that have further discussion among relevant stakeholders on issues and constraints related to blend fertilizer recommendation. As a result, Soil Fertility Directorate of MoANR agreed to establish a taskforce to have such discussion.

Over 70 participants drawn from agricultural research institutes (EIAR & RARIs), MoANR, CGIAR, NGOs and private consultants participated in the platform meeting.

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