Author Archives: selomebenefit

Facilitating market linkages for soybean buyers and sellers

BENEFIT partnership conducted the 5th Soya Bean Trading Platform meeting to facilitate market linkages between domestic processors, exporters, and union on December 6, 2018 at Momona Hotel in Addis Ababa. The meeting jointly organized by BENEFIT-ENTAG, BENEFIT-CASCAPE and BENEFIT-ISSD was attended by 31 participants representing food and feed processors, exporters, and unions.

During the Business to Business (B2B) session it was found that the demand for soya bean is three folds higher than the potential supply indicated by the unions. The possibility of working through contract agreements between the buyers and the unions in the near future was discussed.

Limitedness of the production, institutionalization of the sub-sector, price volatility and access to finance for unions and honouring contract and promises were the key constraints raised for effective business linkages. It was also suggested that actors supporting the production are expected to push the agriculture sector to give more attention for soya bean like other cereal crops. For institutionalization, it was proposed for soybean to be included as legume crops to join the pulses council that is under establishment.

Overall the event was successful in bringing sellers and buyers under the same roof to discuss and address their business concerns and find better way of working together.

By Selamawit and Yemisrach

Using PRA to better understand the local context for better development planning

A key component in the BENEFIT-REALISE progarmme is incorporating a participatory approach with targeted beneficiaries throughout the programme implementation process. As an entry point for designing meaningful and sustainable interventions, the programme has started conducting PRAs, baseline and scoping study in its 60 intervention woredas. Eight Ethiopian universities, implementing partners of BENEFIT-REALISE, have started working with regional, zonal and woreda agriculture bureaus extension workers, Regional Agricultural Research Institutes (RARIs), and local communities to identify priority food security challenges, local resources and indigenous knowledge to solve existing needs, and build common understanding of the programme. These exercises are key to design testing and validation activities and build a sense ownership at local level supporting the bottom up planning process adopted by REALISE.

In order to guide this process, a PRA manual was prepared in collaboration between WUR and REALISE PCU (Programme Coordinating Unit) team. The manual contains 10 different community data collection tools on nutrition, seed, climate vulnerability, cropping calendar, daily activity mapping, landscape mapping, access to control, FGD checklist etc. Each tool includes information on number of participants to include (men, women, youth, poor, rich, PSNP beneficiaries, non-beneficiaries), time to spend on each exercise, types of data to collect, as well as methods of facilitation. Overall sixteen focus groups are needed to collect data for the 10 tools.

The PRA exercise is being conducted in all implementing woredas, at different levels. This is done to ensure interventions are designed based on the specific needs and challenges of the communities. Out of the 60 intervention woredas covering 240 Kebeles (similar to Peasant Associations (PAs) spread across four regions: Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and SNNP, ten (40 kebeles) are research woredas, while the remaining 50 (200 kebeles) are scaling woredas. Research woredas are woredas where Best fit Practices (BFPs) are selected, validated and adapted based on a constraints and opportunity analysis and mapped for suitability against socio-economic and biophysical conditions in selected woredas. At the scaling woredas, scaling methodology is designed, tested and institutionalized into the extension system.

Considering the length of time and resources needed to conduct full PRA in all woredas, it was decided to conduct full PRAs, using all 10 tools, in 2 selected kebeles in each of the research woredas (2*10=20 full PRAs) and two scaling woredas in the satellite clusters: Oda Bultum and Arba Minch (2*2=4 Full PRAs). This means a total of 24 full PRAs. On the other hand, PRA light, using only 2 tools will be conducted in two kebeles in the remaining 48 woredas (48*2=96 PRA light). All clusters began the PRA exercise simultaneously and expected to complete the exercises at the end of November.

Throughout the process different measures were taken to facilitate open discussion. The farmers were central in ranking the priority problems under each topic, what they perceived to be the cause of the problems and what kind of coping strategy to implement keeping in mind the available resources that are present in their surroundings and at their disposal.

Thus far, the exercise is found to be a great opportunity for the community to reflect on their livelihood and for REALISE to identify technically viable, environmentally sound and culturally meaningful interventions that will address the food security challenges of the communities. The motivation, sense of ownership, and tireless engagement of all involved in the PRA process is a good indication of positive things to come in the planning and implementation of the programme.

BENEFIT-REALISE is a three year programme (2018-2020), implemented in collaboration with eight local Ethiopian universities spread over four regional states of Ethiopia (Tigray, Oromia, Amhara, and SNNPR) and  Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in Netherlands. The main implementing local universities are Arba Minch University, Arsi University, Bahir Dar University, Haramaya University, Hawassa University, Mekele University, Oda Bultum University and Woldia University. In addition, REALISE partners with government institutions at all levels throughout the implementation process.

Bringing Entrepreneurship to the young

One of the key activities implemented by BENEFIT-ENTAG supports interns with a meaningful experience that enhances their employability and skills through its postgraduate internship programme.  Accordingly, the progreamme provided training on entrepreneurship on November 7-9, 2018, at Azzeman Hotel in Addis Ababa.  Twenty eight aspiring interns who are currently placed with various agribusiness, horticulture and other agriculture related companies gathered to learn how to recognize business opportunities and become self-reliant by setting up successful businesses.

During the introduction phase it was noted that most of the interns’ knowledge regarding entrepreneurship is limited to a single course taken during their studies, and most have no practical experience. The three day training covered topics on what entrepreneurship means, the relevance of role models, entrepreneurship competencies, social entrepreneurship, profile of an entrepreneur, prerequisite for action, criteria for business opportunities, idea generation and developing business plan. The interns discussed the multiple challenges in the Ethiopian context, such as lack of support, lack of motivation, lack of confidence, market fluctuation, financial constraint, limited managerial, marketing and leadership skills, lack of collaborative efforts etc.

The training provided a dynamic platform where individuals explored their strengths and skills through practical applications and self-examinations. During one of the practical exercises, the interns were grouped to develop business plans in the area of marketing, distribution, vegetable and spice production, poultry and sheep and goats production. They also viewed inspiring videos on entrepreneurs who started small and managed to turn their businesses into big successes.

During the reflection session the interns appreciated the simple and understandable way the training was provided, and agreed that the training encouraging them to think outside the box, build their skills in communication and leadership, strengthen their networking and be more creative in using existing opportunities.

Researchers trained on EGS production and supply in Ethiopia

One of the intervention areas of BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia is to improve Early Generation Seed (EGS) production and supply system. In line with that, the programme organized a two-day training for 52 research staff involved in Early Generation Seed (EGS) production. The primary objectives of the training held on October 29th and 30th, 2018 were to introduce the concepts of integrated seed sector development and seed systems, better understand Ethiopian seed related policies and discuss the roles and responsibilities of research institutes in the context of Ethiopian seed policies and regulations.

The two day training covered topics on

  • History of seed sector development in Ethiopia
  • The approach of integrated seed sector development
  • Strengthening formal, intermediary and informal seed systems
  • Seed policy frameworks
  • Seed value chain development
  • System of early generation seed supply
  • Seed quality control and seed quality assurance
  • Direct seed marketing and seed distribution

The participants discussed the need for a vibrant, pluralistic and market orient seed sector development to meet the increasing seed demand in the country and possibly exploit opportunity for global seed market. They looked at BENEFIT-ISSD sector wide inclusive approach to development, and the different kinds of interventions needed for formal, informal and intermediary seed systems.

The presentation and the discussion about the policy framework was an eye opener for most of the participant allowing them to relate their routine operation with the existing policies. And the session on  seed value chain looked at how operator-supporter-enabler configurations differ among crops and specific chains, but most significantly between different seed systems.

In relation to the roles of research institutions in EGS production and supply, the presentation and discussions gave the participants a realization that they are not operating in established system, and that their role is not limited to addressing the gap in EGS supply but also play key role in establishing a functional system.  Emphasis was given to undertake seed production in suitable agro-ecology and also to use seed value addition techniques like seed treatment – upgrading, priming, dressing, coating, pelleting and disinfection.

Even though researchers are not directly involved in the marketing of certified seed, the marketing session gave them a general knowledge on challenges associated with seed marketing in Ethiopia.

At the end of the training the participants were grouped according to their regions and identified two concrete actions the research institutes can undertake to support the development of the EGS system in Ethiopia. Potential actions proposed included internal and external quality control, starting EGS distribution based on contract agreement, addressing post-harvest management issues, supporting off-season EGS production, ensuring the implementation of EGS production as planned though strong follow-up, strengthening the linkage between agreement providers and contractors, ensuring on time seed delivery based on agreement, and EGS planned but not implemented to be done by irrigation etc.

The training was organized by the BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Programme Management Unit (PMU) in collaboration with Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. Training sessions were facilitated by Dr Amsalu Ayana, ISSD Ethiopia programme manager at PMU; Dr Mohammed Hassena, ISSD Ethiopia Deputy Programme Manager at PMU; and Dr Marja Thijssen, Senior Advisor at WCDI.

 

BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized high level policy field excursion with members of parliament

On October 1-2, 2018, BENEFIT-CASCAPE in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MoALR) organized a high level policy field excursion to visit CASCAPE scaling-up support activities around Hawassa.  The field visit was followed by a one day panel discussion on policy and research implications of CASCAPE results, to inform and sensitize stakeholders on the challenges related to agriculture scaling and determine how each organization can contribute towards an efficient technology transfer in the agriculture sector. Over forty high level officials were in attendance including agricultural affairs standing committee of the members of the parliament, Federal MoALR and bureaus of agriculture (extension), dignitaries from Ethiopian Agricultural research Institute (EIAR), Regional Research Institutes (RARIs), and the media.

On the morning of October 1, the delegation traveled 5 0km from Hawassa to visit two CASCAPE intervention woredas (Boricha and Shebedino) where malt barley innovation was scaled introduced. At the beginning of the visit, CASCAPE Hawassa cluster team gave poster presentations on the programme approach and successes stories in testing, validating, piloting and scaling malt barley, maize, desho grass, common bean and faba bean. They also talked about the programme activities in mainstreaming gender and nutrition, capacity development and creating enabling environments.

During the field visit, the group heard testimonies from three farmers who explained the process and what have been achieved in the last few years.

CASCAPE field visit kisela.jpgKelisa Kassa, 42, a farmer in Boricha woreda said “We used to grow traditional barley varieties which yielded low and there was no market for it. The CASCAPE project introduced the Eboni variety (improved malt barley seed), and helped as form seed producer cooperative. Our group is composed of 20 members and received not only improved seed that is high yielding and takes only four months to mature, but we were trained and received support in the production process. We learned the importance of treating soil acidity with lime two months before planting, to plough the land three times, and weed at least 3 times before harvest. Our produce is sold to grain producers on premium price who also sale the grain to Assela malt factory at premium price. Our income has improved and we are now able to send our children to school. I started to save money and hope to build a house in town soon”.

However, supply of quality seed for Eboni variety remains a problem because it is not included in the extension package. To resolve this issue, CASCAPE team have tried to link them with the regional  Seed Enterprise, who  is responsible for seed quality inspection and provides continuous support to the cooperatives. Following seed quality inspection those that are in good condition are sold to AGP and the woreda to be distributed to farmers in the area, while the remaining is sold as grain to farmers linked to Assela Beer factory. The extension head of the BoA also confirmed that Eboni variety will be included in the extension package since the field evidence is so compelling.

At the end of the visit, the farmers were given an opportunity to raise questions, where issues related to quality seed shortage, storage and finance were briefly discussed.

The next day panel discussion was relevant to better understand the key issues in technology transfer particularly in scaling, and link key stakeholders (policy makers, researchers, universities..) to work together to resolve the major challenges at different levels. Key issues discussed included how to ensure sustainability through institutionalization, strengthening linkage among researchers, universities and the extension system, how to address availability and quality seed issues and the great need to work on specific fertilizer recommendations that takes soil health and management into consideration.

The event received wide national and regional media coverage.

 

BENEFIT organized field visits to promote best practices of sorghum and sesame

On September 29 and 30th, 2018, BENEFIT programmes (ISSD, CASCAPE and SBN) in collaboration with Western Tigray Zone Department of Agriculture and Humera Agricultural Research Center (HuARC) organized field visits to showcase the success achieved in using best practices of sorghum and sesame. Over 200 individuals including farmers, agricultural professionals, researchers, and government officials attended the event. The visit were followed by a discussion to better understand the major challenges farmers face and provide the necessary support to ensure scalability and sustainability.

The field day was organized in Kafta Humera and Asgede Tsimbla woredas. The participants visited a Farmer Training Center (FTC) where BENEFIT conducted Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) to support farmers identify improved and better-performing sorghum varieties for the locality; and demonstrated improved sesame, mung bean, soya bean, and sorghum technologies.  The group also visited a commercial farmer plot to see what can be achieved with the use of the right technology. In addition, the participants were able to compare sesame production with and without fertilizer, and see how planting time and poor farming management are major reasons for poor performance.

During the discussion, farmers appreciated the lessons learned during the visit. Major challenges raised included pest and disease infestation, inaccessibility of sesame row planter; marketing and post-harvest handling problem (mung bean), and shortage of inputs such as improved seed varieties and chemicals.

In the end, Mr. Fiseha Bezabih, deputy head of Tigray BoA closed the event by appreciating and  highlighting the importance joint action in addressing the major challenges of the agriculture sector.

 

 

 

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