Author Archives: selomebenefit

Engaging stakeholders for design of future BENEFIT Partnership programme

On October 14, 2019, BENEFIT Partnership held a stakeholders’ workshop on future BENEFIT Partnership to validate the relevance of the planned components, get feedback on the content and explore opportunities for better alignment, synergy and future collaboration. The workshop was attended by over 20 high level representatives including H.E. Mrs. Aynalem Nigusie, State Minister for Agricultural Input and Output Marketing Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Head of Mission and Dr Worku Tessema, Senior Policy Officer for Food Security & Sustainable Development of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Ethiopia, Dr Chilot Yirga, Deputy DG of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), and other representatives from MoA (the Ministry, extension directorate, AGP), EKN, EIAR, ATA, Universities, NGOs, BENEFIT management staff from Addis Ababa and Wageningen University & Research.

During the workshop, Dr. Irene Koomen, BENEFIT Coordinator, WUR presented an overview of the draft proposal titled “Sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems in Ethiopia”, which follows a food system approach. Following a reflection and question and answer session the participants were divided in three food system groups to identify leverage points / systematic issues for each outcome area, gaps BENEFIT can fill, and key synergy opportunities and collaboration to consider. The workshop was very fruitful to collect relevant inputs to consider in developing the full proposal and better align the programme design to meet the needs of relevant partners and the government. The workshop held at EIAR was facilitated by Dr Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager and Dr Irene Koomen, BENEFIT Coordinator.

 

Pre-scaling of new improved maize variety showcased at BENEFIT-REALISE Oda Bultum University field day

On September 20, 2019, close to a 100 people representing farmers, government officials, university heads, researchers, extension workers, NGOs,, cooperative/union, BENEFIT agricultural experts (REALISE and ISSD) gathered in Oda Bultum (Kara Kebele) to visit the recent success achieved by BENEFIT-REALISE in introducing new improved variety of maize with production practices through its pre-scaling activity. The field day organized by Oda Bultum University, the programme implementing partner, was a success to create awareness of the new improved variety, get expert insight on its performance, understand BENEFIT-REALISE pre-scaling approach and discuss the roles of stakeholders to reach more farmers for sustainable change.

The field visit started with a welcoming remark from the project focal person, Mustefa Abdulkadir and an opening remark from Oda Bultum University President, H.E. Dr. Muktar Mohammed. Dr. Muktar in his remark appreciated the close working relation between the university research and community service directorate and the programme and highlighted the need to strengthen the collaboration to improve the livelihoods of food insecure farmers in the surrounding area. Following, an overview of the programme by BENEFIT-REALISE Deputy Manager, Dr. Mulugeta Diro, the group was guided to visit farm clusters where BENEFIT-REALISE introduced BH-540 maize variety. The event included exhibition of local food made from maize and poster presentation on the Cluster 2019 activities.

Based on the findings of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) conducted in 2018, the Oda Bultum University has been carrying out different on-farm demonstration and pre-scaling activities in 2019 to address major challenges related to lack of access to improved crop technology.  The cluster reached 224 farmers through pre-scaling of maize production technologies, for which the farmers field day has been organized.

A clustering approach (7-10 farmers per cluster) was used for pre-scaling to facilitate the training and management process. The approach was found useful to increase interaction of farmers and create a fertile learning environment.

Mohammed Adem, a 32 year PSNP beneficiary selected for the pre-scaling activity said “I did not know about this variety, and even if I did I would not have been able to afford it or know where to get it from. So I really appreciate the programme provided seed along with training.  And the training and close follow up visits taught me new practices I can use to get maximum performance from my crop. From my 0.25 ha I am expecting to get 10 -15 quintals. I am planning to use half of it to meet the needs of my family and children and invest the remaining in buying the best seed and other inputs for the next season. Now, I am in a better position, in terms of capital and knowledge that will allow me to invest, save and grow. If next year is as good I won’t need any more support from the government safety net programme.”

During the PRA exercise, one of the issues raised by PSNP farmers was the fact that less attention is given to PSNP farmers in introduction of new technologies. It was noted that the government uses model farmers who are  capable to invest on full packages to introduce new varieties and technologies. That is why, even though the programme focus is on PSNP farmers, a conscious decision was made to include 20% non-PSNP farmers in most of the programme interventions. Working with both groups will give insight on the responsiveness of both groups if given the same opportunity.

Eyobe Asrat .jpgEyob Asrat, a young non-PSNP farmer is happy with the progress he is seeing so far. He said “The new variety is better since it takes only three month to mature, while the local variety takes four. It is also bigger than the local which means higher yield. From my 0.25ha I am expecting to get 12-15 quintals, which means better income allowing me to invest on my farm even more than I was able to do before. If we are able to access these improved varieties regularly there is no reason why we can’t earn more changing our lives for the better.”

The participants also had an opportunity to see and compare four new varieties introduced by MoA. Even though there are already notable differences in terms of plant vigour, cob size, etc most agree it is too early to tell which will perform the best in terms of yield. The farmers highlighted what makes the programme intervention different is (i) provision of seed,; (ii) training in agronomic practices and the close follow up from experts to ensure farmers get maximum benefit from the introduced variety; and (iv) market linkage with the nearby union to buy the maize.

During the discussion, the participants appreciated the level of success achieved within such a short period of time. Representatives noted this kind of collaboration is relevant to ensure new varieties that are coming out from research centers reach farmers on time. The participants also raised and discussed issues related to market, the possibility of reaching more farmers with similar efforts, preference for open pollinated vs hybrid varieties, validating other recent varieties such and BH-549, how to link with PSNP efforts for further scaling and how to link with seed producers for the coming season etc.

In addition to its pre-scaling activities, BENEFIT-REALISE Oda Bultum University activities in 2019 included on-farm demonstration of Desho grass technologies under soil bunds, demonstration of fruit and vegetable technologies in home garden areas, on-farm demonstration of Papaya technology, demonstration of food type common bean technologies, demonstration of highland sorghum, pre-scaling of early maturing and striga resistant sorghum technology, re-scaling of chickpea technology, among others.

discussion2.jpg

BENEFIT-REALISE HwU field day featured newly introduced improved faba bean and maize varieties

On October 5, 2019, BENEFIT-RELAISE Hawassa University (HwU) Cluster organized a high-level field day to showcase the success achieved through its pre-scaling of improved Maize (BF 661) and validation of Faba bean varieties in Bona Zuria woreda, Sidama Zone. The visit was attended by more than a hundred  people representing zonal, regional and woreda levels government officials (administration, BOA and Food security and PSNP offices), university heads, deans and directors (both from Hawassa University and Arba Minich University), researchers from Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), extension workers, BENEFIT management (Addis Ababa and WUR) and BENEFIT agricultural experts (REALISE and ISSD). The field day organized by HwU in collaboration with the SNNP and Sidama zone Agricultural offices was a successful event to evaluate the performance of newly improved varieties, better understand BENEFIT-REALISE pre-scaling and validation approaches and discuss scaling possibilities and way-forward for the programme’s 2020 activities.

The welcoming remark by Oliye Odula, Bona Zuria Woreda Administration Deputy Head highlighted the relevance of the programme that started with an overall aim to address the challenges of the poorest of the poor farmers in the country – PSNP supported farmers. In his opening speech, Ato Daniel Damtew, Deputy Head of Bureau of Agriculture, started by talking about the long standing relation of the bureau with BENEFIT-CASCAPE programme (REALISE sister organization under BENEFIT Partnership) and HwU (implementing partner of CASAPE and REALISE). He mentioned the successes achieved in introducing and scaling malt barley production in Sidama Zone and he expressed his excitement on the potential of working with BENEFIT-REALISE to improve the livelihoods of PSNP beneficiaries in the area.

Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager gave an overview of the programme and emphasized the need to work together to reach more farmers and positively influence institutional direction to address the twine challenges of PSNP farmers: closing food gap months and improving dietary diversity. He thanked Mr. Ramko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator, WUR, who played a big role in initiating and starting the programme in Ethiopia. Dr. Tesfaye Abebe, HwU Cluster Manager thanked all for taking time to attend this event and give an overview of the cluster 2019 activities that is currently reaching 1,260 farmers. Their speech was followed by poster presentation on the cluster 2019 activities.

The field visits showcased validation of four faba bean varieties and pre-scaling of improved maize variety (BF H661) at Malgano Seda Kebele Farmer Training Center (FTC) and three farmer fields selected for the trials and pre-scaling activity. While visiting the FTC, Mrs. Wogayehu Derese, Crop Development expert of Bona district agricultural office and Focal Person of BENEFIT-REALISE HwU cluster, explained the processes involved in pre-scaling of maize and validation of improved faba bean varieties. Regarding prescaling of maize she indicated that “Training was given to development agents and farmers on proper agronomic practices of maize, after which the programme provided 3.25 kg of seed of maize BH 661 variety to each of the selected 150 farmers in three kebeles. In total 80% of the farmers were PSNP beneficiaries. Each farmer planted the seed on 0.125 ha of his/her land (the seed rate is 25 kg of maize per hectare). The programme didn’t supply fertilizer to the farmers, but they applied NPS (at the rate of 100 kg per ha) and Urea (split application at the rate of 200 kg per hectare) from their own sources”.  One of the participating farmers named Mulatu Debisso mentioned that he plowed his field three times before sowing the maize and weeding was done twice. He added that he was getting 50-65 quintals of maize per hectare, but now he expects to get at least 80 quintal of maize per hectare, ie. 10 quintals from his plot of 0.125 ha (1/8th of a hectare).

In regards to validation of improved faba bean varieties, Wogayehu indicated that a total of 20 farmers were involved in two kebeles in addition to the two FTCs. Four improved varieties namely, Dosha, Degaga, Gabalcho and Tumsa and one local variety were planted on the plots of 20 farmers and two FTCs. At each farm/FTC 0.125 ha of land was allotted for the five varieties, ie. 250m2 of land for each variety. NPS fertilizer at the rate of 100 kg per hectare and Biofertilizer (at the rate of 500 gm per ha.) were applied to the trials. The seeding rate was at the rate of 150 kg per hectare.

REALISE HwU Bekele Bedasa pic faba beanBekele Bedasa a 26 year old PSNP beneficiary farmer of 3 children said, “As you can see all new faba bean varieties are doing better than the local, especially one is performing very well. The local variety, the pods usually start from the 6th node, with the new varieties it started from the 3rd node, which means the stem holds more pods which means higher yield. But we still have two months to go before we know the yield performance.” Bekele is already inviting others to see the better performing varieties and is already getting offers for the seed for the next cropping season. All are eager to see which variety will be selected based on criteria set by the farmers themselves.

The group was also excited to see the performance of the new maize variety. The 3-4 meter high thick stem is an indication of a crop that has a high yield potential and biomass.

REALISE HwU maize field pic

Overall the validation of Faba bean was done at 4 FTCs and plots of 40 farmers and pre-scaling of improved maize was implemented at 3 FTCs and 150 farmers.

Following the field visit, a general discussion was held where all participants including farmers were given an opportunity to reflect on what they have seen, ask questions and suggest way forward in future activities and scale up efforts. The discussion was facilitated by the Sidama Zone MOA Head, Letta Legesse and BENEFIT-REALISE Manager Dr. Tewodros Tefera. In general, there was a high level of appreciation for the work well done and most recognized the activities potential to address the food security issues in the area. Farmers noted that the effort is making them think beyond consumption and are ready to work hard to change their lives. Ato Ganta Gemea, Regional Disaster Risk Management Commissioner appreciated the work done in such short period of time and stated the scalability potential towards closing the food gap in the area. Other discussion topics related to the value of using FTCs as learning ground, engaging more women, work needed on package optimization and efficient use of resources, accessibility of seed for the coming season, strengthening job creation opportunities, hybrid versus open pollinated seeds, and the possibly of producing more than one time a year.

At the end, Ato Leta thanked all for organizing this field day which is relevant to facilitate learning at different levels. He urged all to work hard to take it further to ensure more farmers benefit from this effort. Mr Remko thanked all for their hard work to make the progamme a success and appreciated the potential of the activities that are set out to address two of the biggest issues in the area – closing the food gap and improving the nutritional status of households.

In addition to validation of faba bean varieties and pre-scaling of improved maize variety, BENEFIT-REALISE HUC activities in 2019 included intercropping of maize with haricot bean, demonstration of OPV maize varieties, introduction of Irish potato, Participatory Variety Selection (haricot ben, sorghum, teff and finger millet), promotion of nutrition sensitive agriculture (demonstration of quality protein maize and backyard vegetable production), introduction of labor saving technology (enset scraper and squeezer), grafted seedling production of improved avocado and mango, Crowdsourcing (haricot bean, teff and sorghum), piloting poultry production for scalable youth employment, piloting oil and charcoal from eucalyptus for youth employment and in-depth study on community nutrition: problems and opportunities. The BENEFIT-REALISE HwU cluster directly addressed 1260 households in its different interventions, out of which 38% were female. When the number of trained partners and indirect beneficiaries are considered, the total number of participants in 2019 has been over 6000 households.

REALISE HwU group discussion pic

MOA and EKN high level visit to BENEFIT programme sites in Arsi Zone, Ethiopia

A high-level visit took place on September 30, 2019 to BENEFIT (ISSD & REALISE) programme sites in Arsi Zone, Oromia Regional State of Ethiopia. The delegation included H.E. Dr. Kabba Urgessa, State Minister for Natural Resources Development Sector and H.E. Mrs. Aynalem Nigusie, State Minister for Agricultural Input and Output Marketing Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture;  Mr Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Head of Mission and Dr Worku Tessema, Senior Policy Officer for Food Security & Sustainable Development of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN)in Ethiopia; Dr Dhuguma Adugna, President of Arsi University and BENEFIT staff members. The field visit, organized by The BENEFIT Partnership Coordinating Unit (PCU), was meant to allow visitors to see the dynamics of the progarmmes’ operations and the extent to which the programmes work with the government, research institutes and other NGOs towards the development of the agriculture sector.

BENEFIT-REALISE programme visit showcased the programme’s achievements in introducing and demonstrating new crops and improved varieties with good agricultural practices that respond to the major issue in the PSNP woredas  (e.g. moisture stress); progress made in fertilizer validation trails jointly implemented with EIAR, ATA, MoA; promotion and production of sweet potato to address dietary deficiency of Vitamin A among PSNP households; and demonstration of technology and provision of agronomic trainings towards achieving food security and closing the food gap in PSNP areas. During the discussion, it was highlighted that the programme is strongly working to put in place a standard for validation and recommendation process based on economic analysis and establish linkage with research institutes, input providers and market to address challenges in the value chain.

In the afternoon, the team visited the achievements of Tuka Katara Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC) that has been established and supported by ISSD, as part of its local seed business development initiative, since 2013. Supports of ISSD  focused on capacity building on techniques of seed production, business management, organizational management and marketing; technical support in the form of coaching and follow-up; support in organizing experience sharing visits and other events and provision of innovation grant for store and office construction. In just four years the SPC is now producing seeds of more than 10 varieties, satisfying its members’ and customers’ seed demand through increased farmers’ production and productivity. The main crops  for which seeds are produced by the SPC include food and malt barley, bread wheat, faba bean, field pea and linseed.  The capital of the SPC has increased from 41,257.63 Birr in 2016 to 2,390,248 in 2019. The team visited the SPC store, seed cleaning machine, small-scale thresher, weighting balance, sewing machine for seed packaging and office with furniture.

During the visit the team had the opportunity to assess the programmes’ implementation through discussions with farmer, development agents, researchers, SPC management and members and government extension staff from woreda bureau of agriculture. Farmers expressed their appreciation of the continuous training and follow-up that is fundamentally changing the way they practice farming and make decisions. They are excited about new crops being introduced that will contribute towards closing their existing food gap, address nutrition deficiency, and increase their income.  PSNP farmers also thanked the programmes for enabled them to be part of the various experiments and trials which would have been impossible without the programme’s provision of necessary inputs.  SPC members repeatedly noted the support from ISSD enabled them to be well-organized which led to attracting relevant partners (e.g. GIZ and ICARDA), contributing to the infrastructure development of the SPC.

Overall the visit showed the successes of BENEFIT-REALISE in validating, demonstrating and scaling out of the successful experiences of CASCAPE and ISSD (BENEFIT sister programmes) as well as that of BENEFIT-ISSD in organizing and enabling seed producer cooperatives to meet local seed demand.

At the end, reflection session was held at Arsi University campus. Excellences Dr Kabba Urgessa and Mrs Aynalem Nigussie appreciated the field visit that allowed them to better understand how BENEFIT programmes work at grassroots level and the good design of interventions that can be used as inputs for wider scaling. They also valued the fact that all interventions are well aligned with other public and non-public initiatives. They affirmed their commitment to facilitate the scaling up and institutionalization of the demonstrated evidences in the policy and development arena, along with their expectations for future BENEFIT. Mr Thijs Woudstra and Dr Worku Tessema reflected their pleasure to see BENEFIT programme’s contribution to the overall agricultural development efforts of the country with due focus on addressing systemic issues. They appreciated the good alignment of the interventions with other initiatives, especially the partnering with relevant local organizations like universities, as that is expected to ensure sustainability of the programme impacts. Dr Dhuguma Adugna, President of Arsi University indicated how the partnership with BENEFIT–REALISE is helping the University get closer to the local farming communities giving insights on how to further refine the University’s outreach programmes. At last Dr Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager summarized the key messages and concluded the field visit programme by thanking excellences from MoA and representaives from EKN for participating and those involved in organizing the field visit.

Embassy vist album

Experience Capitalization Booklet: The BENEFIT Partnership experience

“EXPERIENCE CAPITALIZATION: WORKING TOWARDS ITS INSTITUTIONALIZATION” is a booklet produced by The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) – a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). Its “Capitalization of Experiences for Greater Impact in Rural Development” aims to facilitate the adoption of an experience capitalization process in rural development initiatives, where it can help improve the analysis, documentation, sharing, and the adoption and use of lessons and good practices – as an approach for continuous learning, improvement and scaling up.

The cases featured in this booklet were selected and written by those participating in the project – one of them The BENEFIT Partnership where a few critical reflection tools have been tried as part of the capitalization approach to ensure that the monitoring and evaluation processes are more meaningful and results-oriented. (read BENEFIT experience here) & (read the full booklet here).

Fostering B2B relationships between SPCs and Unions

One of ISSD’s activities in 2019 focus on strengthening Business-to-Business (B2B) relations between Seep Producing Cooperatives (SPCs) and Unions to improve collaborative arrangements to enhance the delivery of quality and reliable seed in a market-oriented environment.

Accordingly, ISSD Amaha Unit together with Amhara Cooperative Promotion Agency (CPA) conducted an assessment on selected SPCs and Unions to identify major obstacles that hinder a conducive environment for better product and service delivery. The  assessment highlighted the main source of conflict were shortage of basic seed, late collection of seeds, late payment and lack of accountability. And major challenges relate to governance/decision making process, ownership, commitment, trust, conflict management, capacity /capability and unclear roles and responsibilities of stakeholders.

Following the assessment a two-day workshop was held, where the assessment results were presented and validated, critical challenges prioritized, and solutions proposed.  During the expert level consultation session, participants discussed on how to develop a strategic document and operational plan that includes methodologies to unlock indecision, strategies to build capacities of SPCs and unions and build a joint responsibility and accountability.

Oromia South West ISSD Programme unit also held a two day workshop with 26 participants representing  farmers unions,  SPCs including graduated LSBs, ATA, GIZ, ESA, Regional Bureau of Agriculture, Regional Cooperative Promotion Agency, OSE, woreda agriculture office and woreda cooperative promotion office. The purpose was to better understand gaps and challenges that hinder a collaborative arrangement in the seed business and identify strategic actions each key stakeholder can take to nurture the relationship between SPCs and unions. The workshop was valuable to identify and prioritize key challenges, and assign key responsibilities to start working on addressing the identified challenges in the coming season.

 

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