Author Archives: selomebenefit

Consultative workshop on fish hatchery expansion and management in Amhara region

A consultative workshop was organized on May 31, 2019 at Bahir Dar with the main objective of exploring possible collaboration and partnership among relevant stakeholders for the expansion of the newly constructed fish hatchery facility at the Bahir Dar Fishery and Aquatic Resource Center of Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI). The participants were officials from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, head of the agriculture standing committee of the regional parliament, deputy head of Regional Bureau of Agriculture, director and deputy head of the regional livestock sector development agency, managers of private companies engaged in fishery (aquaculture) including the manager of the Dutch Africa Sustainable Aquaculture (ASA) aquaculture farm at Koka, BENEFIT partnership colleagues from PCU and ENTAG, and researchers from the Bahir Dar Fishery and Aquatic Resource Centre of ARARI.

The overall discussion focused on how to make the fish hatchery facility functional in terms of (i) overall facility management; (ii) having trained staff to run the facility; (iii) ensure the availability of demanded brook stock and water quality management; and (iv) ensure fish feed availability for the hatchery and aquaculture farm owners.

The workshop concluded with identification of roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders, which will be overlooked by ARARI. The main actors to engage in the process will be the fishery sector development directorate of the MoA, the regional livestock sector development agency, and the private actors. BENEFIT-ENTAG will explore the possibility of collaboration especially in relation to facilitating experience sharing visits abroad.

BENEFIT’s contribution to gender responsive agricultural mechanization

A National Gender in Agricultural Mechanization Workshop was organized by the Ethiopian Network for Gender Equality in Agriculture (ENGEA) on 6 – 7 June 2019 at the Radison Blue Hotel in Addis Ababa. The ENGEA is led by the Ministry of Agriculture Women, Children and Youth Affairs Directorate. The workshop brought together professionals from the government, knowledge institutions, practitioners (civil society and private sector actors), UN agencies, and the media to discuss the national agricultural mechanization strategy and implementation, and share evidence-based research and practices, successes and challenges related to mainstreaming gender in agricultural mechanization.

The workshop was a follow up to the third agricultural mechanization forum where key stakeholders agreed to conduct policy gap analysis and identify evidence-based technology findings to inform the agricultural mechanization policy. This workshop was organized towards developing gender responsive national agricultural mechanization policy and discuss enforcement issues in the existing strategy.

As a member of ENGEA, BENEFIT presented two evidence based improved enset processing technologies (enset scraper and enset fermentation). The two technologies were tested and implemented by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in southern and south western part of Ethiopia. The technologies were especially appreciated since enset is drought tolerant crop that play key role in food security and the technologies potential to reduce women’s work burden. Participants agreed continuous research on enset processing technologies is crucial to address specific issues related to accessibility, affordability and maintenance. The relevance of engaging Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) extension department and mechanization department throughout the testing process to ensure sustainability and scaling was highlighted.

By Selamawit Firdissa, Gender & Nutrition Expert, BENEFIT PCU



Dairy goat intervention building the resilience of resource poor women

The overall goal of BENEFIT-REALISE “Improved dairy goat intervention to improve the livelihoods of rural women” in Ahferom Woreda, 200km North West of Mekelle, Tigray region is to build asset of vulnerable Female Headed Households (FHHs) towards resilience. In addition to generating income, the intervention aims to improve nutritional status of the households and improve the capacity of the women in livestock management. For a woman like Azeb Abera, a 46 year-old mother of 3, the last three months activities have restored her hope for better changes to come.

Azeb lives with her six year old son high up on the rugged, terraced mountainside. Since her husband death, she has been forced to rent her less than 0.25ha land to those who are capable to cultivate the farm land in terms of resource (capital, seed and oxen) and farm labor. She said “I have to rent out my farm land with an agreement to get 50% of the crop produced – teff, barley or wheat. But that is not enough, so I also depended on the government PSNP (Productive Safety Net Programme) support. I used to own few goats and sheep, but had to sell them to make ends meet.”

Goat restocking is a complex intervention for various reasons. Nevertheless, if done right, its potential for improving the livelihood of women farmers within a short period of time has been proven; one of them by BENEFIT-CASCAPE programme (REALISE partner).

Following the long tradition of goat rearing in the area, the programme, through its implementing partner Mekelle University (MU) introduced a new breed with a greater genetic potential for milk and can adapt to the dry climate and pasture. In December 2018, two breeding female goats and one male goat were given to 20 FHHs selected in consultation with Woreda and kebele Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) officials. This was followed by a training on goat reproduction, management and health.

It is easy to see the strong bond formed between Azeb and her goats. As they follow her around her yard, she proudly showed us her pink folder that holds relevant information about each one of them. She said “Here you find information on each of my goats – when they were born, information on their health, vaccination, spray etc… I take all the necessary steps to protect them and make sure I properly follow the training provided.” Much to her delight, in just three months the two pregnant goats gave birth to three kids – increasing her goat family from three to six.

To prevent diseases and ensure success of the intervention basic animal health service is given due attention. “As you can see the goats were vaccinated twice for minimal price and we have learned how to recognize when the goats are not well. We get support from animal science experts regularly. We now know the value of spraying to protect them from parasites. If we get the right equipment we can even do it ourselves and not depend on the experts to come by.”

For Ahferom Woreda women the current major concern is related to feed. The women mostly use sorghum and maize stover to feed their goats. “I finished last season’s crop residues, and since there is no rain, getting feed until the rainy season is becoming a challenge.” said Azeb. In response to this, the programme has already secured forage seed nearby research center and plan to conduct close follow-up to ensure availability of feed until the rainy season.

What is next? “Based on our agreement I am giving away the 2nd round off-springs to another woman in need.” said Azeb. “What I want is to increase the number of goats I have, sell what I can and get a cow. I can sell the male off springs for a minimum of 3500birr each. And if I sell enough I can buy a cow” she added with a smile.

Another concern is related to effect of cross breeding with local breed, leading to dilution of the improved dairy breed introduced. Accordingly, the programme has implemented some breeding strategies to maintain the pure breed including using only cut and carry to feed the goats and keeping them in their yards as much as possible. But as the women fiercely protect their improved female goats, cross breeding of female local goats with the improved male goat is happening to improve productivity of local breeds in terms of milk and meat In addition, the selling of any goat (male goats) is facilitated by the Kebele administration not only to control cross breeding and sustain begait goats’ genetic trait but also to facilitate access to market within the community. Even though these might address the immediate concerns, long term strategies that involve the community and government is needed to address complex issues related to cross breeding,

The benefit of the dairy goats in terms of providing goat milk to the family towards nutrition is still early to tell. But at this early stage the women have high hopes for what to come as their number of goats (assets) grows in number.

The BENEFIT-REALISE programme aims to contribute to sustainable livelihoods through the introduction of improved farming practices, innovations and social experiments to strengthen the current Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia.

Strengthening the capacity of seed quality control authorities

On May 27 & 28, 2019, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia (Integrated Seed Sector Development-Ethiopia) programme organized a two day training on “Seed quality control techniques and seed related international conventions, treaties and understandings” for 11 (8 male and 3 female) general managers, deputy managers, directors, seed inspectors and experts. The participants represented four seed quality control authorities in the four regional states of Ethiopia (Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and SNNPR).

The training was useful to (i) enhance competence in leadership with clear vision so as to ensure delivery of quality seed to farmers; (ii) increase inspiration to further develop knowledge and skill in the area of seed regulatory frameworks, and (iii) increase availability and access to quality seeds of improved varieties by strengthening strong seed quality assurance system, which protects both seed users and genuine seed companies. The participants agreed the training was timely and will help them improve their seed quality control skill and hence, enable them provide good service for their client seed producers and distributors.

Key topics covered during the two-days training were

  1. Seed related international conventions, treaties and understandings
  2. Ethiopian seed policy, seed strategy, and seed regulatory frameworks (seed law and its regulations, directives; PVP and its regulation and directives; access and benefit sharing; biosafety)
  3. Seed regulatory harmonization at regional level (e.g. COMESA, SADC, ECOWAS) & its purposes
  4. Seed quality assurance at field level
  5. Seed quality assurance at laboratory
  6. Seed quality assurance (objectives and mechanisms) &
  7. Licensing seed producers and seed dealers- amendment of qualification criteria for obtaining COC

The training was organized by BENEFIT-ISSD-PMU based on training need assessments made in consultation with the managers of the four seed regulatory authorities. It was held at Pyramid Resort & Hotel, Bishoftu.

It was facilitated by resource people from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and ISSD Ethiopia Programme.

Strengthening partnership to boost malt barley production for breweries

The recent fast expansion of breweries in Ethiopia is presenting a unique opportunity for malt barley producing farmers in Tigray. To capitalize on this opportunity BENEFIT progrmmes (ISSD, CASCAPE and REALISE) have been working on various interventions to strengthen the malt barley value chain with partners across the board. Accordingly, the Southern Zone Agricultural Coordination office and BENEFIT projects (ISSD, CASCAPE and REALIZE) jointly conducted a consultative workshop to enhance malt barley production and marketing in southern Tigray on May 14, 2019 in Maychew town. Partners from universities, research centers, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Tigray Agricultural Marketing and Promotion Association (TAPMA), Global Malting Service (GMS), Raya Brewery Share Company, Hadnet Raya Seed Producer and Marketing Union, Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs), officials from woreda and Southern Zone agriculture offices and BENEFIT staff attended the workshop.

Professor Kindeya G/hiwot, President of Mekelle University, officially opened the workshop. In his remark he appreciated the work BENEFIT is doing and underlined the need for strong collaboration to strengthen the malt barley platform to resolve challenges and encountered in production and marketing malt barley. Four papers that focus on BENEFIT research and development activities, the need for partnership, Ethiopia’s experience in malt barley production; challenges and opportunities of malt barley production in Tigray (experience of GMS) were presented and discussed.

During the discussion lack of EGS (Early Generation Seed) was identified as a key challenge. Using FTCs (Farmer Training Centers) for seed multiplication; expanding malt barley production areas to other highland areas (Degua-Tembien, Atsbi-Wenberta, Ganta-Afeshum and Laelay-Maychew weredas) and releasing low land malt barley varieties were proposed as possible solutions.

The workshop was instrumental to discuss action plans towards joint partnership responsibilities and ensure accountability towards agreed upon activities. BENEFIT projects agreed to focus on mapping malt barley producing areas, create linkages with universities, research centers and buyers, and increase engagement in capacity building and policy influencing. Universities and research centers agreed to work on EGS multiplication, variety and package development, value chain analysis, seed health research, police research and niche identification.

Wageningen project in Ethiopia receives prize for agriculture and food

The Wageningen project ‘Innovation Mapping for Food Security’ (IM4FS) has won the Olam Prize from the French Agropolis Fondation.

The project does not only look at which crops can grow best in a given area, but also at the involved climate risks, markets and farmers’ loans. Using research data and IT, the project develops best-fit combinations of crops, soils and matching technology for farmers in marginal areas of Ethiopia. This project builds upon the Wageningen project BENEFIT-CASCAPE, which developed best fits for farmers in the fertile Rift Valley in Ethiopia. [Read more]

BENEFIT-ISSD co-organized high level international multi-stakeholders workshop on seed system development

An international multi-stakeholders workshop on enabling and scaling genetic improvements and propagation materials, was held at IRLI Addis Ababa campus,  Ethiopia on Friday 17, 2019. The workshop gathered around 80 local and international experts to explore how to tackle major bottlenecks in the functioning of seed systems for smallholder farmers. The workshop was relevant to deepen the understanding of the  seed sector complexities, what has worked in practice, create synergy and over all strengthen collaboration among major stakeholders.

The objective of the workshop was to create interest among key international and regional agrifood sector actors and investors to collaborate in further enabling and scaling genetic improvement and propagation materials (seeds). The participants looked at challenges in current seed system and how to jointly identify solutions to tackle these challenges at systematic level.

The opening remarks were given by Andre Zandstra (CGIAR, Director Funder and External Engagement), Robert Bertram (USAID, Team Leader, International Research and Biotechnology) and H.E. Dr. Ms. Aynalem Nigussie (Ethiopia, State Minister for Agricultural Inputs and Marketing). That was followed by three presentations on

  • A value chain of innovation towards delivery. How to tackle the challenges for seed system change. By Philippe Ellul (CGIAR, Senior Officer)
  • The practice of current seed value chains towards delivery. The role of public-private partnerships. By Ian Barker (Syngenta Foundation. Head Agricultural Partnerships)
  • Ethiopia’s Seed Sector Transformation. By Mohammed Hassena – Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD)-Ethiopia, Deputy Manager

The next two sessions focused on SSD-Research projects and a panel debate on “Institutional arrangements for realizing the potential of improved varieties”.  In the afternoon, the participants visited Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center (DZARC) and Amuari High Yield Varieties and Agricultural Product PLC, organized by BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia. The participants met with DZARC Director who introduced the role of the Center in seed production and with pulse improvement team leader who explained the limited interest of private businesses in seeds of pulse crops and how the Center is working with seed producer cooperatives and private companies to increase the production of pulse seed. They also visited the DZARC laboratory and a private company that works closely with DZARC and is successful in producing non-hybrid crops.


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