Author Archives: selomebenefit

Transforming lives with improved seed varieties: lessons learned from ISSD Mekelle University

This briefing note summarizes the success and lessons learned in introducing new sorghum varieties through crowdsourcing/participatory varietal selection (CS/PVS) interventions and seed multiplication activities in Tigray. It is based on three-year experience of Integrated Seed Sector Development Programme in Ethiopia (ISSD Ethiopia) Mekelle University (MU).

Introduction

Sorghum is a dominant food crop in Asgede Tsimbla Woreda. Prior to 2017, most farmers depended on local varieties that were handed down from farmer-to-farmer, mainly Merewey and Wedi subush. For years, due to the lack of attention given to strengthening the sorghum seed system and minimal effort into introducing new improved varieties, the farmers used low producing and late maturing varieties. The crop was also ignored by the formal research system especially in the north western lowlands of Asgede Tsimbla wereda.

Interventions implemented

In 2017, to better understand the social seed exchange networks embedded in the social system and resolve the pressing challenge in the sorghum production system, ISSD Mekelle University conducted a baseline study on farmers’ access to seed and role of local traders in seed market. The findings showed, a very intertwined seed exchange networks where farmers solely depended on each other to get information and access to quality seed and lack of access to better performing improved varieties.

Based on the recommendations of the study, ISSD MU used crowdsourcing and PVS approaches to facilitate variety deployment and enable farmers identify, use and access varieties that suit their micro climate or locality. CS/PVS approach is in essence a seed research and extension method that strengthens, promotes, and creates demand for new and improved varieties and ultimately increase adoption rate of quality seed. Gender mainstreaming was central in all planning and implementation stages resulting in 48% women farmers participating in crop and variety selection and deployment.

The activities started with awareness creation and building partnership with relevant key stakeholders to facilitate piloting and scaling up of CS/PVS approaches by Bureau of Agriculture (BOA) and Agricultural Research Centers (ARCs) in the region.

New, improved and popular local varieties of sorghum were deployed to 200 farmers in 2017, 400 farmers in 2018, and 350 farmers in 2019. Farmers evaluated the varieties on their farm plots and used both men and women traits preferences to make their selections. Field days were organized to facilitate varietal evaluations by farmers on PVS sites. The farmers ranked Melkam and Meko varieties the best for their early maturity partially addressing the drought issue in the area; good panicle size with high yield and productivity potential; strong short stalks that are wind resistant; shorter plant height easing labor during harvesting especially for women; quality sweet stock suitable for livestock feed; and good grain color and cooking quality (injera).

Following the increasing demand of the selected sorghum varieties, and convinced by the promising performance of Melkam, the Woreda office of agriculture (WoA) agreed to work in farmer clusters for wider area seed multiplication. ISSD in collaboration with the WoA facilitated access for improved Melkam variety and 125 quintals of seed was distributed to 1,224 (155 female) individual farmers for seed multiplication on a 1042 hectare of land.

Results

Since 2017 as many as 25 sorghum varieties were deployed through CS/PVS interventions in Asgede Tsimbla wereda. They have adopted early maturing Melkam variety that brings high yield, easy to harvest, responsive to women needs, better in color and cooking quality. Farmers now own different varieties that respond to the climatic and agronomic demands of the area.

In addition, you see a significant shift from the traditional methods of accessing and using seeds. Farmers testimonies reveled that growing improved varieties is a new tradition and they have learned improved varieties mean better yield that can improve their livelihoods. They also acknowledged the value of engaging women in variety selection and the need to engage them in the seed system.

Challenges

Some of the challenges encountered during the implementation period included limited number of varieties, lack of awareness on the CS/PVS implementation approaches, use of improper plot design and size, poor data collection and management, limited capacity by enumerators and focal persons.

Conclusion

The programme showcased the impact and reach of using CS/PVS as an extension model to increase adoption of improved varieties. With over 25 local varieties, Asgede Tsimbla is becoming a center of diversity for sorghum. Beyond sorghum, farmers now know the value of using improved crop variety seeds, creating new levels of demand for all crops.

Lessons learned and recommendations

  1. CS/PVS is a cost effective approach that is instrumental to promote and reach large number of farmers with many new and improved varieties in short period of time. The approach should be incorporated and institutionalized by the extension system with close collaboration with ARCs;
  2. With the right blend of extension approach and accessibility to new improved seed varieties, farmers are very willing to take up and adopt new varieties;
  3. CS/PVS varietal deployments enables farmers to experiment, evaluate, and identify the best fit varietal for their micro climate;
  4. Creation of seed demand through CS/PVS approach should be followed by coordinated seed multiplication efforts to encourage wider adoption and create sustainable seed source;
  5. To ensure success, interventions should include activities related to capacity building of farmers, experts and enumerators; ensure women are included at all levels of implementation; deploy as many varieties as possible and create linkage and create linkage with ARCs to alleviate the current seed supply shortage.

BENEFIT-REALISE held its annual review and planning meeting

BENEFIT-REALISE held its annual review and planning meeting on Feb 11-13, 2020 at Nexus Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The first two days that included external stakeholders were devoted to reflect on 2019 accomplishments across 8 implementing clusters in four regions, review 2020 work plan, identify areas of collaboration, and agree on the mechanism of institutionalization. Over 50 participants, representing Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) at federal level, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ethiopia (EKN), Universities, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), INGOs, BENEFIT Partnership programme (REALISE, SBN, CASCAPE-CANAG, PCU) from Addis Ababa and WUR attended the meeting. The last day was devoted to revise 2020 plan based on feedback provided and for CLUM (cluster managers) meeting.

Following an introductory session, the programme management team presented 2019 accomplishments, challenges and lessons learned. It was highlighted key success factors for 2019 accomplishments were (i) strong stakeholders’ collaboration at national and regional levels (research, extension, PSNP, NGOs like GRAD, HELVATAS Ethiopia, World Vision etc); (ii) availability of knowledge and different technologies that can be tested for local adaptation (EIAR & RARIs); (iii) existence of knowledge, experience and expertise within BENEFIT programmes; (iv) interest of farmers to use improved agricultural technologies; and (v) team work and commitment of programme staff.

Major challenges raised in 2019 implementation period included late onset, shortage and unpredictable nature of rainfall, pest problem (fall armyworm and locust), shortage of quality seeds for some crops/or varieties, lack of well-established RuSACCo and the fact that many of PSNP beneficiaries are resource poor (landlessness, lack of capital for inputs esp. FHHs). Sufficient time was allocated to discuss on common challenges and possible solutions the programme should consider in the coming year.

The second day was devoted to hearing 2020 plans, that focus on demonstration, pre-scaling and scaling support, woreda plan support, strengthening linkages between seed producers, service providers and markets, provision of evidences to policy makers (policy dialogue, in-depth study report), presentations of evidence-based programme results, developing better strategies for effective engagement of youth in the target woredas, documentation and sharing, and institutionalization process.

Presentations

  1. BENEFIT-REALISE 2019 achievements, focus on 2020’ by Remko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator from WUR
  2. 2019 progress and objective of the workshop by Dr. Mulugeta Diro, BENEFIT-REALISE Deputy Manager
  3. Segmentation for customized extension: REALISE experience” was given by Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager
  4. “Extension System in Ethiopia: Refection on current challenges, current reforms and changes, extension package formulation and targeting” was given by Dr. Chimdo Anchala, Senior Director of Production & Productivity, Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA)
  5. “Resilient Seed System: The case of PSNP/REALISE beneficiaries” by Dr. Mulugeta Diro, BENEFIT-REALISE Deputy Manager
  6. “Seed Security for Food Security” by Dr. Amsalu Ayana, BENEFIT ISSD Manager
  7. “Food Security: Consideration for BENEFIT-REALISE” by Ramko Remko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator

The participants had an opportunity to discuss the value of segmentation in the extension system, how to critically evaluate our intervention’s contribution verses target reaching, meaningful collaboration, training best practices, farmer targeting in scaling activities, target for yield increase, beneficiary reporting, staff retention, seed availability, and strengthening platforms to share experiences that will ultimately contribute to PSNP HHs self-sufficiency.

Promoting Best Fit Practices in Crop Production: The case of BENEFIT-REALISE Mekelle Univesity

The BENEFIT-REALISE programme aims to improve food and nutrition security and build resilience of targeted Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) households. The
programme that started in 2018 works with eight Ethiopian universities as implementing partners, spread across four regional states of Ethiopia – one of them Mekelle University Cluster in Tigray.

The attached brief presents a summary of major activities, testimonies and lessons learned from BENEFIT-RELALISE Mekelle University Cluster experience in 2019. It highlights activities implemented in crowdsourcing, Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS), validation, demonstration, nutrition, pre-scaling, seed multiplication etc. While acknowledging the successes achieved so far this paper also highlights key lesson learned in the implementation process to encourage learning, contributing to knowledge management process to improve further efforts in similar innovations and efforts.

BENEFIT-REALISE held Regional Annual Review and Planning Workshops

BENEFIT-REALISE Programme conducted annual review and planning workshops in  four regions: Tigray (Mekelle University cluster), Amhara (Bahir Dar and Woldia University clusters), Oromia (Arsi, Haramaya and Oda Bultum University clusters) and SNNP (Arba Minch and Hawassa University clusters) of Ethiopia. The eight REALISE University clusters organized the workshops in their respective regions from January 23-February 1, 2020. The objective of these workshops were to create a forum for REALISE to review the performance of 2019 activities and present 2020 work plan for the upcoming budget year. The workshops were relevant to learn about the status of the program, receive feedback to refine 2020 plan and agree on way forward decisions. In attendance were officials from the Regional Bureaus of Agriculture and Zonal and Woreda Offices of Agriculture, Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) of each region, Regional Agricultural Research Institutes and Centers, Affiliate Universities and their respective program’s,  institutional advisors, BENEFIT-REALISE National Program Management Unit team and Cluster Managers and experts.

Detailed reports on the performance of planned activities for 2019, major achievements, challenges faced and lessons learnt were presented. Plenary discussions were conducted on the reports to clarify issues and answer questions raised by stakeholders. In addition, presentations on the 2020 work plan were made by the clusters  and feedback was provided through group discussion with stakeholders.

On conclusion, since 2020 is the last year of implementation for REALISE consensus was reached to focus on documentation of evidence, institutionalization and sustainability to ensure that the lessons learned and evidence generated by the program will be integrated in the formal government operations.

2nd Round of Innovation Recommendation Mapping (IRM) Training Conducted (BENEFIT-CASCAPE)

BENEFIT-CASCAPE conducted a six day training (Dec 30, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020) to develop the skills of government institutions staff members (Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Ethiopia Soil and Resource Institute (ESRI) and MoA Extension Directorate and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR))  responsible for implementing IRM in the country. The 2nd round training focused on basics of GIS, R, land evaluation; concept to data, input data source, data quality and fitness for use, bio physical input data preparation (land use requirement, soil, climate, topography), accessibility map input data preparation (market location, roads, FTC) and AHP & Ethno suitability mapping.

As per the findings of the skill assessment, the trainers applied learning by doing methodology to effectively bridge the skills and knowledge gaps. There were series of individual, pair and small group practical exercises and assignments. One of the group exercise entailed discussing factors affecting adoption of CASCAPE’s Best Fit Innovations (BFIs) ranked from highest to lowest. The group also identified those factors that can be mapped and those factors that can be mapped and have data. The three major factors identified for wheat related to attitude (culture, religion), farmer type and access to extension service, while the top three factors affecting adoption for faba bean were educational level, market value and cultivable land size.

Both formative (continuously monitoring progress in learning) and summative evaluation (at the end of the training) were conducted to collect feedbacks for improvement of future efforts. Total result of the quantitative assessment in terms of relevance, achieving objectives, participation, organization, exercises etc. was 69.6 out of 70.

At the end of the training, the participants affirmed their commitment to apply the knowledge and the practical skills they have learned. The training was organized by CASCAPE’s National Programme Management Unit NPMU (Desalegn Haileyesus – Senior Expert, Capacity Building) and was given by Dr. Amanuel Zenebe and Dr. Atkilt Girma (Mekelle University – Mapping members).

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.

BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University Field Day on Layer Poultry Farming and Sheep Fattening Interventions

On January 16, 2020, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University (WDU) Cluster held a field day to showcase the contribution of small scale layer poultry farming and small ruminant (sheep) fattening interventions in youth employment and building PSNP households resilience in North Wollo, Amhara Region. The field day was relevant to better understand the different components that contributed to the success of the interventions and discuss how to ensure continuity of the effort to reach more youth and PSNP beneficiaries.

The interventions were conducted in two woredas (Wadila and Habru) engaging 16 youths (8 male and 8 female) on layer poultry farming and 16 women in ram (male sheep) fattening. Recognizing PSNP HH’s poor resource status, the programme worked in collaboration with RUSACO, providing revolving fund to support the farmers through credit to run the activities. This was done to minimize dependency syndrome associated with aid and reach more farmers over time with the limited available fund. Through this credit scheme, the programme provided 50 pullets from Nicos Private Poultry Farm in Mersa town to each or the 16 youth, materials to construct the chicken house, feed for the first three months and training on poultry care and management.  In relation to the fattening intervention, the programme provided 5 sheep and training on sheep care and fattening to each of the 16 women selected for the intervention.

The field visit demonstrated, within a short time (3 months), both interventions have become profitable businesses that can contribute to improving the lives of PSNP HHs by increasing their household income towards ensuring their food security and building their resilience.

Kidest Aynachew, who participated in sheep fattening activity said, “I used to depend on selling ‘Tela’ a local alcoholic drink and support from the PSNP programme. After the BENEFIT REALISE Wolida University gave me 5 sheep and taught me how to construct a place for them, how to fatten them and keep them healthy, in just three month I was able to earn 4000 birr. I started saving money so that I can buy more sheep to fatten and sell.”

Derebew Alene, who was engaged in poultry farming, is also very happy with the result. He said “Out of the 50 chickens I have, 35 are already laying eggs, and I am getting about 120birr each day. I was very happy with the result. I have already started paying my loan to RUSACO and plan to expand even more.”

The field day was attended by over 40 participants including Daikon Tesfa Batabil, Head of North Wollo Zone Department of Agriculture, Dr. Solomon Abegaz, Vice President of Woldia University Research and Community Service, representatives from Sirinka Agricultural Research Center Livestock Research Directorate, North Wollo Zone Livestock Agency, woreda livestock and cooperative offices, Development Agents (DAs), RUSACO members, beneficiary youths and women.

Woldia livestock fattening picture

woldia livestock field day layer chicken picture

Improving the Performance of SPCs through Management and Governance Training

ISSD Mekelle University (MU) conducted a training for 30 Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) executive committees’ members and woreda and kebele experts, with an objective of enhancing their capacity in  cooperative governance and management. Noting the relevance of Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs), in quality seed production of improved and farmer preferred varieties, ISSD in Ethiopia works to improve the management, organizational skills, and technical knowledge of SPCs and strategically link them with relevant partners along the value chain.

A conceptual framework called ‘making seed producers autonomous’ was used to lead the presentations, exercises and discussion on leadership. Techniques used encouraged full participation, learning and experience sharing. Furthermore, exercises and assignments were provided to stimulate learning by doing.  Case studies were used to learn from successes and failure of sample SPCs.

The training covered core concepts on setting vision, goals and targets; identification of problems; SPCs problems alignment; case studies in individual farmers problem and linkage with business; value chains of seed production, marketing and management; cooperatives Sector Development Strategy in a view of Ethiopian context; governance; and financial management.

The training was effective in designing specific action plans to be implemented in the coming few months and ensure SPCs commitment to utilize the techniques  they learned from the training.

The training is intended to address challenges associated to governance and management of cooperative as well as creating smooth relationship with relevant partners and institutions. The participants included members  selected SPC’s who will work with ISSD in  2020.

 

BENEFIT-ENTAG 11th Poultry Sector platform meeting on poultry farm biosecurity

Poultry farm biosecurity is one of the main challenges within the poultry sector. Even though the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is working on implementing the poultry disease control strategic plan, developed by ENTAG in 2018, biosecurity is still a rising critical issue bringing negative impacts on production in small, medium to commercial largescale farms.

In response to this, ENTAG’s Poultry Sector 11th platform meeting was held on December 17, 2019 to discuss the current biosecurity challenges in and around Bishoftu and find short and long term solutions. The meeting attracted 61 attendants from the private sector, governmental offices, NGOs and the Private Sector Association. Prior to the discussion, two presentations covering the concept of vaccination and poultry farm biosecurity and an overview of the current status on biosecurity in Bishoftu was given by the National Veterinary Institute (NVI) and an the Bishoftu town Urban Agricultural Office respectively.

The meeting was a great opportunity to identify possible solutions, discuss way forward and establish a taskforce to follow up on the action points agreed upon. A taskforce composed of  members from the National Animal Health Diagnostic Centre (NAHDIC), National Veterinary Institute (NVI), Oromia National Regional State Bureau of Livestock and Fisheries Development, Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Urban Agricultural Office, Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute (EMDIDI), Bishoftu town municipality and the Ethiopian Poultry Producers and Processors Association (EPPPA) was established to follow upon actions points,  EPPPA was nominated to lead the taskforce.

Aflatoxin in Pulses: the case of BENEFIT-ENTAG contribution to the spice, herbs and pulses sectors in Ethiopia

The Ethiopia pulses and spices/herbs sector is still at its infant stage, and compared to the country’s potential, production, export and consumption of spice/herbs and pulses is very low. The recent increasing global attention given to food safety and quality standards is highly affecting the many efforts happening at different levels to strengthen the sector. Especially the issue of aflatoxin in Ethiopia spices and pulse export is by far becoming a major quality and food safety issue that has been raised repeatedly in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

This briefing note summarizes the issue, the intervention and lessons learned from BENEFIT-ENTAG spice, herbs and pulses sub-sector, to resolve issue of aflatoxin in Ethiopia spices and pulse export.

BENEFIT-REALISE WDU to establish a mung bean platform in Amhara region

On December 21, 2019, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University (WDU) Cluster held a multi-stakeholders consultative workshop on mung bean value chain to review the success of the programme in mung bean technology demonstration, discuss its relevance in the region, share experiences in innovation platform and establish a mung bean platform to address challenges in the mung bean value chain. The workshop was relevant to bring key stakeholders together to better understand the current status of mung bean production and management in the country and decide on steps to establish a mung bean platform where challenges find solutions towards creating mung bean revolution in the Amhara region.

The morning sessions and presentations were on the current status of mung bean production in the country, the major challenges in relation mung bean production and management in the value chain and understanding quality parameters for the international market. The discussion that followed covered issues related to exploiting the nutritional value of mung bean by designing food preparation trainings; the role of extension in addressing issues related to agronomic practices and the need to work with cooperatives and unions to address seed and market issues.

In the afternoon, the presentations and discussions were more forward looking into the value of setting up a mung bean platform and agree on members, their roles and responsibilities, and actions to follow. One of the presentations focused on learning from BENEFIT-ENTAG’s experiences on setting objectives, approaches and key performance indicators the programme uses to evaluate its success. The opportunity to link the platform with the recently established Pulse Council to maximize their value was discussed.

The afternoon sessions also included reviewing BENEFIT-REALISE mung bean technology demonstration, scaling up and seed production plan for 2020.

Presentations included

  1. An overview of BENEIT-REALISE 2019 activities and accomplishments by Dr. Baye Berihun, BENEFIT-REALISE WED Cluster Manager
  2. “Status of mung bean production and management” by Dr. Birhanu Amsalu Fenta, National Lowland Pulse Research Program Coordinator from Melkasa Research Center
  3. ECX national and global quality parameters for mung beans international market by Guesh G/Meskel from Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), Kombolcha Branch
  4. Experiences and challenges of multi-stakeholders platform in North Eastern Amhara, by Tamirat Tesfaye, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU cluster Agronomist
  5. “Sector Platform Establishment and Facilitation” by Helen Getaw, BENEFIT-ENTAG Deputy Manager

The workshop was attended by over 50 participants including Deputy Head of Regional Bureau of Agriculture Dr. Solomon Assefa, Woldia University President Dr. Abebe Girma, National lowland Pulse Research Program Coordinator Dr. Birhanu Amsalu Fanta, and representatives from Sirinka Agricultural Research Center, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), extension experts, Development Agents (DAs), BENEFIT management, Dr. Tewodros Tefera (REALISE) and Helen Getaw (ENTAG) and other relevant staff members.

For more information on BENEFIT-REALISE go to https://benefitrealise.org/

 

BENEFIT-REALISE Arsi cluster is conducting an in-depth study on rural youth employment

As part of its youth interventions, BENEFIT-REALISE programme designed pilot interventions and in-depth studies to generate evidence and compile lessons to inform  policy making/ revision decisions as well as the design of youth interventions. One of the planned activities is an in-depth study on youth interventions to be conducted by Arsi University Cluster, targeting two kebeles in Zeway Dugda and two kebleles in Negelle Arsi woredas. The study will be informed by primary data gathered through key informant interviews and focus group discussions with community members as well as relevant stakeholders.

Prior to field level data collection, a workshop was conducted on December 12 -13, 2019 to better understand the processes involved in qualitative research (data collection, transcription, coding, categorizing, data reduction, analysis and report writing); agree on the sampling frame and sample size; review the checklists for in-depth interview and focus group discussions and agree on the way forward. The research team composed of seven participants from BENEFIT-REALISE Arsi Cluster, Kulumsa Research Center, Woreda Food Security Office participated in the workshop. The workshop that was facilitated by an independent consultant included practical exercises that helped further refine the research methodology and build common understanding on the research process.  The findings of the research as expected at the of February 2020.

 

Senior advisors of BENEFIT-REALISE programme held experience sharing visit to Rwanda

rawanda visit benefit realise pic 3Ethiopian higher officials who are senior advisors of BENEFIT-REALISE programme at national level conducted experience sharing visit to Rwanda on December 9-13 2019. The visit was led by his H.E Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister, MoA, heading the Natural Resources and Food Security Sector and consisted of Dr. Mandefro Nigussie, Director General of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and W/ro Yenenesh Egu, Director of Agricultural Extension, MoA. The three higher officials have been working as national senior advisors of BENEFIT-REALISE programme. The advisors were accompanied by three BENEFIT-REALISE programme management team members.

Rawanda visit benefit realise pic2The visit was organized by BENEFIT-REALISE programme in consultation with Rwanda Cooperation Initiative. The objective of the visit was to learn from Rwanda experiences and contribute to Ethiopian institutional capacity building targeted by the programme. To achieve objective of the visit, the team visited and discussed with Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Rwanda Cooperation Initiative (RCI), the Netherlands Embassy to Rwanda, Ethiopian Embassy to Rwanda, and Bank of Kigali in Kigali. The delegation visited a potato value chain in Musanze district of Northern Province and soil conservation terraces in Ngororero district of Western province.

Experiences on potato value chain, supported by Bank of Kigali in credit supply for inputs in non-cash approach and the interface of agricultural research and extension are good experiences, among others, that Ethiopian delegate would consider. The home grown solution called Imihigo has helped Rwanda to change the long standing political, social and economic challenges it faced.  Imihigo is a cultural practice in which an individual sets himself targets to be achieved within a specific period of time. For the near future, teams were established from both countries to identify areas where the countries can learn from each other through well planned exchange visits.

BENEFIT-REALISE BDU conducted two farmers’ field days on improved wheat and potato technologies

BENEFIT-REALISE Bahir Dar University (BDU) Cluster held field days on wheat production technologies in Enebsie Sar Midir (ESM) Woreda, and improved potato technologies in Lay Gaint Woreda on August 19 and October 12, 2019 respectively. The field days were organized in collaboration with woreda offices.

The visit in ESM woreda showcased wheat production technologies including 1000 Birr bread wheat small seed pack pilot, bread wheat PVS and demonstration of improved bread wheat technologies. The field day in Lay Gaint Woreda was organized to showcase the performance of Belete variety potato.

The visits attracted close to 300 participants, representing PSNP and non-PSNP farmers, high level officials from hosting woreda administration offices, Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) Bureau of Agriculture, ANRS Disaster Prevention and Food Security Programme Coordination office, NGOs (FH and Vita), universities’ community service and research officials (Debre Tabor University, BDU and Debre Makose Universities), Amhara Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) and Adet Agricultural Research Center, Office of Cooperative Promotion, union officials (Guna and Motta), local potato seed producer association, agriculture experts, woreda communication office, kebele development agents, and BENEFIT programmes.

BENEFIT held agriculture and nutrition linkages workshop

On December 2, 2019, BENEFIT–PCU organized a half-day workshop on agriculture and nutrition linkages in BENEFIT programmes (ISSD, REALISE, SBN, ENTAG and CaNaG (CASCAPE Nutrition and Gender)) to reflect on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) lessons learned and identify key areas of future engagements and research opportunities. Over 20 participants representing the World Bank, Capacity Development Support Facility (CDSF), Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity (FTFE-VCA), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), BENEFIT programmes staff from Addis Ababa, regions and Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) attended the workshop.

The workshop included presentations on FAO conceptual framework – ten principles to make projects more nutrition sensitive and how to operationalize it in BENEFIT programmes; lessons learned from five programmes and a discussion on gaps, new areas of interest and research opportunities BENEFIT should include in its future interventions.

And future areas of engagement identified included developing strategies in the area of nutrition collaboration, Behavioral change communication, mobilizing finance to ensure sustainability of the project interventions; using available technologies to process and improve the shelf life of home gardening and engage women in vegetable and fruit production without adding to their already existing work burden; linking nutrition with food safety measures at house hold level; ensure seed availability and access at local level by supporting seed multiplication efforts; and documenting evidence based lessons learned to share with the wider population.

The participants also discussions challenges related to access to market, labor, seed availability and water scarcity; working closely with the government and other research centers; issues related to planting nutrition crop beyond home gardening on larger farm land; consumption verses income when introducing cash crops; preference of farmers to engage in high productivity crops verse nutrition dense crops; working with agro dealers and Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) willing to work on fruit and vegetables; and the relevance of looking at systems level rather than activities.

 

BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized scaling agricultural innovations write-shop

On October 14-17, 2019, BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized a write-shop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to build a common understanding of up-to-date scaling approaches and develop a roadmap to review, process and analyze data collected by each cluster to produce cluster level and national level synthesis publication. The write-shop was relevant to share state of the art academic thinking on scaling of agricultural innovations; share CASCAPE’s scaling process undertaken by respective clusters, train, give guidance and support on methodological data analysis.

This is part of BENEFIT-CASCAPE 2019 effort that focuses on embedding CASCAPE best fit innovation and approaches into the country’s agricultural extension system. Accordingly, one of the programme’s efforts give attention to support the extension directorate’s scaling activities through capacity development and sharing evidences generated in the programme’s scaling activities.

With the objective of understanding and highlighting the enabling and hindering factors for successful scaling of the Best Fit Practices (BFPs), the programme developed a framework to monitor and evaluate the impact of scaling in 2018. That was followed by systematic collection and coding of quantitative and qualitative data on scaling efforts of various commodities.

The output synthesis will be shared with policy makers and as scientific publication for the scientific community.

 

 

ATA Launched Agricultural Commercialization Cluster program

On Nov 28, 2019, ATA in Ethiopia launched “Agricultural Commercialization Cluster program (ACC)” that aims to integrate the interventions prioritized in the Transformation Agenda within specific geographies targeting priority high-value commodities. The five year programme to be implemented in Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, and Tigray regions is supported by development partners namely DANIDA, the Netherlands Development Cooperation, French Development Agency and EU. The launching ceremony was attended by ministers, state ministers, regional presidents, ambassadors including HE Bengt van Loosdrecht Ambassador of the EKN, parliamentarians, university presidents, director generals of the federal and regional agricultural research institutes, representative farmers from the four regions, and other stakeholders engaged in agricultural development including BENEFIT Partnership run by Wageningen University, a top agricultural university in Netherlands.

The launch program that was held at Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) conference centre was officially opened by the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The opening speech was followed by presentations that gave an overview of the ACC program and four panel discussions (donors, federal and regional official of the MoA, representative farmers, and representative of private sector).

The panel discussion by development partners focused on the importance of ACC in the broader context of international development. Mr Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Head of Mission of The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), was among the panellists who stated that even though while the Netherlands is about the size as the Tigray region, it is the second biggest exporter of agricultural products in the world. The secret behind this success is the so called Golden Triangle approach that followed the right collaboration of relevant actors (academia, private sector and the government).

Mr. Thijs also talked about how the ACC initiative is aligned with other EKN supported development initiatives including WUR BENEFIT in Ethiopia. He mentioned EKN’s active engagement in facilitating collaboration of the different initiatives of ATA, BENEFIT and SNV who cover different components of the value chains towards setting up a formal collaboration and synergy mechanism for maximum impact. He also highlighted the opportunity to link ACC with Netherlands agricultural investment and trade noting the fact that Netherlands is one of the top agricultural investor and the prime destination for agricultural export from Ethiopia.

The ACC is an initiative that we as BENEFIT look forward to collaborate with in the coming year and possibly in the new phase of BENEFIT beyond 2020.

GENDER MAINSTREAMING CONTRIBUTION TO WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT IN INFORMAL SEED SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

The second phase of BENEFIT-ISSD (2016-2019) gave special attention to informal seed sector development. Within that context, enhanced empowerment of women in the access and use of quality seed of their preference at household and community level is one of the intermediary outcomes of BENEFIT-ISSD. To achieve this, BENEFIT-ISSD conducted several activities from 2016 to 2019. The attached briefing note “Women Empowerment in Informal Seed System Development” summarizes the activities implemented using crowdsourcing and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) approaches and the findings of a study on the activities’ contribution towards women’s empowerment.

BENEFIT-REALISE BDU Cluster Manager received “Ethiopian Women in Science” Award!

Dr. Almaz Giziew, BENEFIT-REALISE Bahir Dar University (BDU) cluster Manager ranked first among 45 female teacher-researchers from all universities in Ethiopia, for her principal role in six published researches in 2011 EC (2018/19) alone, and her outstanding research engagements that are impacting the livelihood of poor farmers in the region.  She was awarded during a science week  (November 22,2019) celebrated under the motto “Ethiopian Women in Science”, organized by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, MoSHE.  The competition was based on three main parameters: the number of published research outputs, community service engagements, and university-industry linkage participation. Dr. Almaz noted that BENEFIT-REALISE activities were invaluable input in winning this award, especially in meeting the university-industry linkage participation parameter.

Publication on soil properties and fertilizer rates in the highlands of Ethiopia

Please read here the recently published paper titled “Explaining bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) yield differences by soil properties and fertilizer rates in the highlands of Ethiopia”; authored by Eyasu Eliasab  P.F. Okothc   E.M.A. Smalingd

a College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Centre for Environmental Science Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

b Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Partnership for Food Income and Trade (BENEFIT), Ethiopia

c New Scape Agrosystems Ltd., PO Box 27303, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya

d Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Environmental Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Highlights –

  • Fertilizer applications can double wheat yields when applications are site specific.
  • Soil properties that drive the crop yields are OC, pH, TN and Fe and Mn on the negative side.
  • Blend fertilizers have no significant effect on yield over NPS and DAP.
  • The absence of K in the fertilizer mix could have affected yields negatively.

Innovation Recommendation Mapping (IRM) training (CASCAPE & REALISE)

For the last few weeks BENEFIT-CASCAPE has been engaged in assessing the skills and knowledge of government experts at Federal level and BENEFIT sister project staff (SBN) on Innovation Recommendation Mapping (IRM). The overall aim is to institutionalize BENEFIT-CASCAPE methodological tool on IRM  to allow users generate suitability maps that provides scientific advise on where and how best fit innovations can be scaled in specific areas. Following an agreement with key government stakeholders on the matter, the first of three training was held from October 21-25 2019 in Bishoftu town in collaboration with BENEFIT-REALISE.

The training that was organized to bridge the knowledge and skill gap of the institutions responsible for implementing IRM, was based on the responses to questionnaire that was analysed and summarized at BENEFIT-CASCAPE National Programme Management Unit (NPMU). The assessment looked at knowledge and skills on basic GIS (data preparation, clipping, map projection, raster manipulation); spatial data capture (GPS, Digitizing, 3rd party downloads, Workshop facilitation); basic programming skill and basic use of R (R studio interface, R markdown, raster package, sp package, sf package, shiny package, leaflet package and ggplot2 package); and knowledge and experience of land evaluation.

The 1st of the three training was attended by eight participants from Ethiopia Institute for Agriculture Research (EIAR), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) (Ethiopia Soil Resource and Information, Extension Directorate and Soil fertility), and BENEFIT-SBN staff.  It focused on introduction to IRM, modeling agricultural innovation recommendation domains, understand rule bases in IRM and practical sessions in R, Fuzzy modelling of IRM.

Pre-scaling of bread wheat featured at BENEFIT-REALISE WDU cluster field day

On 1st of November 2019, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University Cluster (WDU) organized a one day field visit to showcase the successes achieved in pre-scaling of bread wheat (Ogolcho) in North Wollo Zone, Amhara Region. The delegation visited 23ha clustered wheat farm in Meket Woreda, where 60 PSNP farmers (55 men and 5 women) were engaged in improved bread wheat pre-scaling activity to increase wheat production towards improving food security in the area. The field visit that was followed by stakeholders’ discussion was attended by over 50 officials and experts including North Wollo Zonal Administration Head, N. Wollo Bureau of Agriculture Head, Sirinka Agricultural Research Centre (SARC) experts, Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) Deputy Director, Woldia University Community Service and Research, extension workers, BENEFIT-REALISE staff and the media.

The visit started with a welcoming remark by Berhanu Terefe, Woreda Office of Agriculture r Head and Woldetensa Mekonnon, Zonal Administration Head. They both appreciated the programme’s efforts in introducing new improved bread wheat varieties and good agricultural practices that is transforming wheat production in the area. That was followed by a brief remark by Baye Getahun, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU Cluster Manager, who gave an overview of the programme activities in Amhara region and the collaboration between SARC and the woreda BoA that made this activity a success.

The pre-scaling activity started with consultations with the Woreda office of Agriculture (WoA) responsible for clustering smallholder farmers and SARC for identify improved varieties that are optimal for Meket Wordas. Upon the recommendation of SARC, the programme acquired the improved seed that has a potential to produce 52-60quintals per ha (research trial) and distributed it among 60 PSNP farmers. The programme also provided best agronomic practices trainings and technical support throughout the season in collaboration with the woreda and Kebele office of Agriculture.

BENEFIT-REALISE woldia university farmer Ennana.jpgDuring the field visit, the group heard testimonies from farmers who benefited from the pre-scaling activity. Ennana Muchaye said “So far the variety looks good. We have learned new things like row planting, use of recommended fertilizer and the need to weed three times. It started slow at first but grew very fast and it looks like we will be getting good yield.”

Another issue that was raised repeatedly related to wheat rust and other diseases that is continuously undermining the wheat production in the area. Tamirat Tesfaye, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU Agronomist said, “The area is susceptible to fungal disease such as Yellow Rust and Take-all disease affecting the roots of the crop. These are mostly caused by excessive rain the mono-cropping practice of the farmers in the area. In addition to introdWoldia disucssion pic1.jpgucing new disease-resistant varieties more work should be done in applying good agronomic practices, such as extensive weed control and introduce crop rotation where possible.”  Other issues discussed included the need for close follow-up to ensure farmers follow the trainings provided and tasks needed to increase the crop suitability to be used as seed for the next season.

At the end of the visit, a meeting was held to share BENEFIT-REALISE 2019 activities and discuss the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in increasing bread wheat production in the region. The workshop was a great opportunity to discuss exiting challenges related to quality seed demand and supply, seed multiplication, use of pesticide to address crop disease challenge and soil acidity and fertility. The participants also discussed opportunities in pre-scaling improved variety potato, following the successful demonstration of the programme.

The Woreda BoA Administrator and Zonal Administration Head appreciated BENEFIT-REALISE’s efforts that are creating enabling environments to resolve key issues related to getting technologies to farmers. BENEFIT-REALISE Manager, Dr. Tewodros Tefera on his part noted the need to identify crop and technology game changers and talked about the programme’s 2020 plan that will focus on working with agricultural research centers and offices of Agriculture to address existing seed issues through joint validation, commodity clustering and pre-scaling activities. Woldia University Community Service and Research Deputy Head Dr. Solomon closed the discussion by thanked all for attending and emphasized the relevance of strengthening the link between Office of Agriculture, research and the university to better understand the roles and responsibilities of each to increase wheat production in Amhara region, contributing towards making Ethiopia wheat self-sufficient.

BENEFIT-CASCAPE high level field visit and stakeholder workshop with MoA officials

On October 22-23, 2019, BENEFIT-CASCAPE national coordination unit in collaboration with the extension directorate of the MoA, Addis Ababa University CASCAPE cluster and Siyadebirna Wayu Woreda Office of Agriculture of the North Shewa Zone, Amhara Region organized a high-level field visit to showcase the successes achieved with wheat cluster farming as a scaling approach. The first day was devoted to visit BENEFIT-CASCAPE supported AGP (Agricultural Growth Programme) seed multiplication scaling activity of improved bread wheat varieties and BENEFIT-CASCAPE scaling activity to boost wheat production through cluster farming. That was followed by a one day high level stakeholder workshop to discuss the results of the drivers of technology adoption in the agriculture sector. In addition, the meeting was meant to hand over the 26 Best Fit Practice (BFP) manuals to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) State Mister and the Extension Directorate. The BFPs manuals were validated by BENEFIT-CASCAPE for their productivity, profitability, environmental sustainability and farmer preferences. The field visit was attended by over 200 participants including dignitaries from the Federal MoA (State Minister Advisor, extension director, mechanization director, AGP head), zonal and woreda administration officials, zonal and woreda agriculture offices officials, research institutes representatives, farmers, BENEFIT staff (Addis Ababa and Wageningen University & Research (WUR)) and the media.

For the field day, on October 22, the delegation first traveled to Romae kebele where 160 farmers (138 men and 22 women) were engaged in seed multiplication of improved bread wheat variety (Dand’a) on 186ha clustered farm land. The visit started with a brief remark by Berhau Taye, North Shewa Zonal Administrator who welcomed everyone and acknowledged the contribution of the programme in introducing new improved bread wheat varieties and good agricultural practices that is transforming wheat production in the area.

AndualemHis remark was followed by a briefing from Ato Andualem Yeshew, an Agronomic Expert of the woreda who said “The successes we see here is a result of the combined efforts of improved varieties and good agricultural practice through efficient clustering approach. The variety was first introduced by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in 2018 through successful validation, demonstration and pre-scaling activities at neighboring Kebele. Following the good results achieved in 2018, the woreda and BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized field days where farmers saw that the variety was high-yielding and resistant to disease and pest. This year, we partnered with BENEFIT-CASCAPE to implement AGP seed multiplication scaling activities to address quality bread wheat seed shortage in the area.” As per the agreement between BENEFIT-CASCAPE and AGP, the programme provided improved seed, training and technical support (20%), while AGP covered all other necessary costs.

The benefit of cluster farming, that started by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in 2017 is clearly visible on the ground. It enabled farmers to access improved seed, fertilizer and row planting practices with support from the extension agents.  Instead of fragmented farm land covered with conventional farming, you see hundreds of hectares of wheat farms, covered with modern cropping practice. Farmers are expecting 64-67 quintals, much higher than the average yield of 38 quintals registered across the country. Andualem said, “Working in clusters encourages farmers to use the full package and good agronomic practices. It eases the introduction and dissemination of technologies where farmers share resources and benefit from collective marketing of produce (selling in bulk).”

At the beginning of the second visit, BENEFIT-CASCAPE AAU cluster team gave poster presentations on the programme approach and key 2019 activities. The delegation then visited the success achieved in scaling improved bread wheat (Hedase) on 150ha farm land in Ejersa Kebele.

Demesa Muluneh.jpgDuring the field visit, the group heard testimonies from the cluster administrators and members. Demesa Muluneh who is serving as the Cluster Coordinator in Romie kebele, said “Working together has many advantages such as being able to support and learn from each other. It is also relevant to ensure all farmers apply the recommended input and follow the right practice which ensures getting good quality seed.”

When asked about challenges they faced, Demesa added, “Getting fertilizer on time was a challenge. And due to the large area, there is demand for tractor to plow and combine harvester to harvest in the area; we were not able to secure a tractor to use during the dry season.” Another challenge raised was related to marketing. Even though the cluster is working with the woreda union to sell their seed, they are not sure if they will get the best price for our produce.

Other issues discussed included the shortcomings in using blanket fertilizer recommendation, the need to deal with problems of monocropping as a result of cluster farming and increase efficiency and availability of other crops and legumes seeds for crop rotation.

At the end of the visit, the delegation held a discussion to reflect on what they have seen and raise questions and issues to focus on in the coming year. In his remark Ato Abera Mulatu, Advisor to the State Minister (MoA) said he is happy with what he has seen and noted that this is a unique opportunity and approach that should expand to other surrounding areas. Dr. Yania Seid, Director for Community Services of AAU, stated that she is proud to see the level of work done in collaboration with the programme and the university’s continued commitment to provide service through its community engagement programme. Dr. Eyasu Elias, BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manger thanked all who attended the visit and for their contribution towards making Ethiopia wheat self-sufficient in the near future. Prof. Eric Smailing, BENEFIT-CASCAPE Coordinator highlighted that farmers are owners of this project and central to the success achieved so far. Dr. Abate Mekuriyaw, BENEFIT-CASCPE AAU Cluster Manager appreciated the continuous support and trust of the government offices and the farmers that resulted in creating fields that are starting to be known as “Ocean of wheat”. Mesert Haile, MoA Zonal Head closed the discussion by thanking the organizers and highlighting the relevance of working on the entire value chain components to bring sustainable change.

On October 23, 2019 BENEFIT-CASCAPE held a one day stakeholder workshop to present (handover) Drivers for Adoption study results and 26 Best Fit Practice (BFP) manuals to the MoA State Minister and the MoA Agricultural Extension Directorate. Participants were drawn from the extension directorate of MoA, AGP, zonal department of agriculture in north-Shewa zone, representatives of bureaus of agriculture and regional research institutes such as SARI (southern agricultural research institute), and BENEFIT staff (Addis Ababa and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the media.  The workshop was also a great opportunity to discuss the major findings of Driver For Adoption study, Best Fit Manual preparation and development process, mechanization, incentivizing agriculture, next phase of BENEFIT, and way forward towards resolving issues raised during the visit and institutionalizing the Programme achievements.

Both the field visit and the stakeholder workshop received high media coverage nationwide. News of the events and interviews with farmers, government officials and BENEFIT-CASCAPE management was broadcasted on ETV, WALTA TV, and Ethiopian News Agency radio and television programmes.

BENEFIT- ENTAG contribution to Aquaculture Ethiopia 2019 Exhibition in Ethiopia

On October 17, 19 and 20, 2019 PRANA Events organized AQUACULTURE ETHIOPIA 2019 exhibition where over 100 exhibitors, including 10 foreign companies participated.  The Expo, that included ALEC 2019, ETHIOPEX 2019, and Apiculture Ethiopia 2019 partner events was attended by more than a 1000 visitors, and was held at the Millennium Hall and Keranyo Plaza in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The exhibition attracted major aquaculture value chain exhibitors and aquaculture-associated institutions, including EHY Fish Production and Marketing Enterprise, Alema Koudijs Feed PLC, China-based Goldlong Machinery and Engineering Co., cooling system suppliers, the Ethiopian Aquaculture Association, Ethiopia-Netherlands Trade for Agricultural Growth Programme (BENEFIT-ENTAG), Ethiopian Meat and Dairy Industry Development Institute.

BENEFIT-ENTAG, Aquaculture Sub-sector Coordinator, Dr. Abebe Ameha Mengistu presented “Business Opportunities in Ethiopian Aquaculture” followed by interactive discussion with the participants. Overall, the event was valuable to promote fish business and respond to questions related availability of technical support, supply of inputs and profitability of aquaculture business.

Contact:
Dr Abebe Ameha Mengistu
Aquaculture Sector Coordinator
BENEFIT/ENTAG – http://www.entag.org
SAN Building, Bisrate-Gebriel area
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Email: abbefish@gmail.com
Mobile: +251(0)966216000

Nebeyu Lemma
Managing Director
Prana Events, A Division of Fairteam Trading PLC
Bole Medhanialem Lucky Building
PO Box 17500, Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Tel.: +251 116 184365 / Fax: +251 116 621 202
Mob.: +251 929 308 366
Email: Nebeyu@fair-team.co
Web: http://www.pranaevents.net

Awareness raising on seed sector transformation issues and strategies

On October 16, 2019, BENEFIT-ISSD held a one day workshop to share the views presented in “Transforming the Ethiopian Seed Sector: Issues and Strategies” document and explore ways to implement the different ideas and recommendations presented in the document. The meeting was attended by two Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) State Ministers, 21 experts representing three MoA seed related directorates (agricultural input marketing; variety release and inspection; plant quarantine) and 1 general director of extension. The meeting was relevant to raise awareness of the guiding document, ensure that the strategies become part of MoA annual plan and get the commitment of high level officials and experts to implement the strategies to transform each of the seed sector transformation pillars.

During the workshop, the different components of the guiding document were presented by three National Seed Advisory Group (NSAG) group members. The morning session was chaired by H.E. Mrs. Aynalem Nigusie, State Minister for Agricultural Input and Output Marketing Sector of MoA, while the afternoon session was chaired by H.E. Sani Redi, State Minister for Agricultural Development of MoA. Following the presentation the participants were organized in three groups to prepare short and long term plans to implement following the strategies presented in the guiding document. Outputs of the group discussions were presented in a plenary.

Both state ministers thanked the NSAG for preparing the strategy document and for organizing this workshop. The ministers also affirmed their willingness and commitments to institutionalize and implement the strategies in the coming two years and gave direction to the respective experts of the three directorates to finalize and present the proposed plans soon.

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.

 

MOA and BENEFIT-REALISE signed a MOU to conduct soil characterization and mapping

Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Natural Resources and Food Security Sector, and the Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) Partnership signed a MoU to conduct soil classification and mapping for BENEFIT-REALISE pilot woredas.  Soil Information and Mapping Directorate under the State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security will collaborate with BENEFIT partnership (REALISE programme) on preparation and sustainable use of soils and recommendation maps.

The Ministry, through its Soil Information and Mapping Directorate and Extension Directorate, will support soil characterization and mapping in 18 PSNP/REALISE woredas and recommendation mapping in five PSNP/REALISE woredas. The Ministry will also work towards uptake of the approaches for soils and recommendation mapping, which will finally be owned by the Ministry.

BENEFIT will be responsible for coordinating and serving as a secretary for the taskforce established for this purpose; avail necessary budget; provide training and guidance on soil characterizing and mapping with the support from ISRIC; provide training on recommendation mapping with support from WUR; and share data as per data sharing policy requirement.

In relation to event organization roles and responsibilities will be agreed case by case depending on the event. Budget allocation and management will be handed by BENEFIT- REALISE.

The specific outputs agreed upon include (i) providing training and build the capacity of  local experts in soil characterization and recommendation mapping; (ii) producing soil maps of 18 PSNP/REALISE woredas at scale of 1:50,000; (iii) pilot use of recommendation maps in five woredas for scaling of agricultural technologies; (iv) provide training and mapping manuals; and (v) organize handover workshop.

The MoU provides a framework within which all collaborative activities will be initiated and undertaken, and will be effective until 2020. It was signed by H.E. Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security and Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager.

Food Safety and Quality in Poultry Sector of Ethiopia, case of BENEFIT-ENTAG

Given the Ethiopian poultry sector challenges and the country’s GTP II goal for poultry production boost, Ethiopian Netherlands Trade for Agricultural Growth program (ENTAG) (2016-2019), part of the BENEFIT Partnership in Ethiopia works to address food safety and quality challenges in poultry sector through various interventions.

ENTAG’s intervention in the poultry sector focuses on organizing regular platform meetings in order to identify sectoral challenges, policy level issues and strengthen networking among key stakeholders in the poultry sector. Furthermore, ENTAG has been doing capacity building activities through organizing trainings, business to business sessions, company visit programs in order to enhance the capacity of companies that are involved in poultry production and processing.

This briefing note gives an overview of the current situation, corresponding institutional gaps, proposed interventions followed by further actions needed.

You can also find the “STRATEGIC PLAN for implementation of disease prevention and control in the commercial poultry sector of Ethiopia 2018″ here.

Field Visits to BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster operational areas

BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster held two field visits to promote the programme interventions, on maize-haricot bean intercropping practices and introduction of new improved potato and faba bean varieties in Kachabira woreda.  The filed visits and discussions took place on September 4 in Kachabira woreda and on 27th of September in Siliti woreda. The events were valuable to (i) promote intercropping to improve productivity, soil fertility and nutrition of households; (ii) demonstrate the performance of new improved potato and faba bean varieties; (iii) share knowledge among key stakeholders; (iii) collect feedback from partners and beneficiary farmers; and (iv) promote BENEFIT-REALISE programme interventions. The events contribute to BENEFIT-REALISE crop and forage production and management pathway.

In Silti woreda, the method of row maize-haricot bean intercropping is new to 90% of the farmers.  Considering that 80% of the land is covered with maize, incorporating bean in the intercropping practice will contribute towards improving food and nutrition security. The visits were valuable to increase the understanding of the surrounding small holder farmers on the benefits of intercropping and to consider it as a viable option to maximize yield from their land. The intervention is also expected to improve dietary diversity and reduce the application of artificial fertilizers by using natural processes such a nitrogen fixation and application of inoculants. The introduction of new improved potato variety in Kachabira woreda is also expected to increase access to seed tubers of improved potato varieties and facilitate seed exchange among farmers.

Both events show that using high yielding and adaptable crops, improved agronomic practices and improved varieties contribute to reducing food gap months of PSNP households by increasing yield.

The Silit intervention was visited by over 60 participants while the Kachabira woreda gathered over 45 participants representing Zonal and Woreda level high government officials from Agriculture and Food Security Offices,  agriculture experts and extension workers, and PSNP farmers from nearby kebeles and  woredas. During the visit, briefing on demonstration and yield advantages and agronomic practices were provided.

Overall the farmers expressed their appreciation of the new practices and new varieties introduced and expressed their interest in trying new root and tuber crops and OPV maize. Zonal and Woreda officials agreed to work with the programme on pre-scaling the practices to the surrounding areas. In the coming year, the programme will put emphasis in strengthening seed supply of selected varieties specific to the areas. HU intercropping pic

 

 

WCDI Director visited BENEFIT-SBN programme in Ethiopia

Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI)  Director, Hedwig Bruggeman visited BENEFIT-SBN programme in Humera area on Sep 3-4, 2019. She was accompanied by Irene Koomen,  BENEFIT Coordinator (WUR), BENEFIT PCU staff, research center experts, BoA experts, Subject Matter Specialists, Development Agents and farmers. The main objective of her visit was to see one of BENEFIT programme performance and collaboration in its final implementation year and to better understand the programme to inform BENEFIT II project design.

The team visited a number of initiatives in Tigray and Amhara regions. Namely,

  1. Dansha area home garden activity on use of organic fertilizer application;
  2. Adebay cluster farming approach (87 farmers) for better access to extension system (human resource), row planter, market and farm management;
  3. Mebale multipurpose primary cooperative to see the result of capacity development activities in agronomy and financial literacy;
  4. Meherab Arachio Woreda Farmers’ Training Center (FTC) where BENEFIT-SBN has been providing technical support (coaching of DAs);
  5. Delelign commercial farm which is a private farm where BENEFIT-SBN demonstrate rotational crops for environmental sustainability;
  6. Meherab Aramchio Agricultural Research Center seed multiplication site. A collaborative effort between BENEFIT-ISSD and BENEFIT-SBN where ISSD works to strengthen seed cooperative management and marketing skill.
  7. Hiwot mechanization farm where implantation of rotational crops is implemented;
  8. Rawyna seed production center; and
  9. A farmer using 20 step approach.

At the end of the meeting Hedwig appreciated the success achieved so far, the strong collaboration among stakeholders, and the use of different approaches to meet the different needs of the community. It was also encouraging to see some of the approaches are already being institutionalized and becoming agenda items at high level discussion forums.

Overall, the visit was valuable to appreciate the successes achieved, better understand challenges that slow down progress and encourage the team to think next steps and game changer for the sesame sector, for the next phase of BENEFIT.

 

A study on local level rainfall and temperature variability in drought-prone districts in Ethiopia

A study on “Local level rainfall and temperature variability in drought-prone districts of rural Sidama, central rift valley region of Ethiopia” was published in June 2019. It was co-written by Tafesse Matewosa (Institute of Policy and Development Research (IPDR), Hawassa University Ethiopia, and NMBU, Norway) and  Tewodros Tefera (School of Environment, Gender and Development Studies (SEGDS), Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia). Dr. Tewodros Tefera (PhD) is currently BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager and Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics.

The study used 129 gridded monthly rainfall and temperature data of 32 years (1983–2014). The gridded rainfall and temperature records were encoded into GIS software and evaluated through different statistical and geospatial techniques. Mann-Kendal rank test and F distribution tests were used to test temporal and spatial statistical significance, respectively, of the data. The analysis revealed that Belg and Kiremt are the main rainfall seasons, constituting 81% of the annual rainfall. Although annual, Kiremt, and Belg rainfall amounts appear to have decreased over time, the decreasing trend is statistically significant only for Belg rainfall records. On the other hand, rainfall standard anomaly results indicated seven droughts of different magnitudes: one extreme, two severe, and four moderate. The study also revealed increasing temperature trends over the years under consideration that are statistically significant. The findings of this study on rainfall contradict other findings obtained around the study area. Thus, climate change adaptations need to focus on location-specific climate data analysis so that the intended adaptive interventions can be successful. [download the study here]

 

Consultative workshop towards institutionalization of ISSD major initiatives

Institutionalization and sustainability are important issues for any donor-funded programme that works to ensure success achieved during implementation continue beyond the life the project. In light of this, ISSD Amhara Unit organized a consultative workshop where Bahir Dar University high officials and regional seed core group members discussed major strategies to institutionalize ISSD’s best practices. The workshop was valuable to look at ways to embed the activities and approached of ISSD into the university outreach programme and discuss on major challenges to scale best practices achieved over the years.

The workshop was opened by Dr. Firew Tegengne, President of Bahir Dar University and Ato Tesfahun Tegene, BoA Deputy Head. In their remark, they appreciated major achievements of the programme on seed sector transformation and it effort to create a vibrant, pluralistic and market oriented seed sector.

Major issues discussed included documentation, scaling, and how to tie the projects lessons into the university community services. Overall, consensus was reached on embedding ISSD modalities & approaches of selected innovations, and strengthening the linkage with the university Research and Community Service and with faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

The participants were also given an opportunity to visit major achievements of Debretabor University and ISSD’s disease free seed potato minituber production. A total of 40 participants’ attended the workshop.

BENEFIT-REALISE conducted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training

BENEFIT-REALISE Programme conducted a training on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) from August 13-15, 2019 at Dallol Hotel, Adama. The training was attended by 24 participants, mostly composed of REALISE Cluster experts working on seed, agronomy and scaling up of best fit practices. Two of the participants were invited from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. IPM was selected following a stakeholders and REALISE cluster experts training needs assessment. The purpose of the training was to build the understanding of experts on types of major diseases and insect pests of crops, their causes, diagnosis and management options.

The training included field level experience sharing from REALISE clusters and the Ministry of Agriculture, lectures, questions and discussion session, group work and field excursion.

The lectures were given by Professor Emana Getu, a Professor of Entomology at Addis Ababa University and Dr. Fikre Handoro, who was a Senior Pathologist at Southern Agricultural Research Institute.  Principles and use of IPM was the central focus of the training. To ensure the safety of human beings and that of the environment, it was clearly discussed and consensus built that BENEFIT-REALISE programme uses and promotes IPM where use of commercial pesticides comes as a last option. The plenary discussions focused on ground level insect pest and diseases that the clusters are facing and recommended courses of action to address the problems. During group work session cluster experts developed an Integrated Pest Management strategy to address priority diseases and insect pests problems in their specific context.

On August 15, 2019, a field visit was arranged to visit Melkassa Agricultural Research Center to see disease and pest problems and their symptoms on crop stands and discuss with resource persons. This greatly helped the participants to understand the nature of insect pests and diagnose diseases. The field excursion also included a visit to Eteya Farmers Service Center, a private agro dealer supplying different pesticides (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), liquid fertilizers, farm tools and other farm related services to farmers in Eteya Woreda and the surrounding areas. Here, participants were able to discuss with the manager of the service center, see chemical spraying gears, appropriate storage facilities, proper labeling of packages, and the like.

Overall, the training was successful as it provided an appropriate forum to discuss different crop insect pests and disease problems at cluster level and the recommended course of action to address them. Participants acknowledged that the training was needed and relevant as it helps them to provide proper advice and guidance to farmers in the event of insect pest and disease occurring.

By Addisalem Ambaye Tadesse, and Mulugeta D. Chimsa  

Towards institutionalizing BENEFIT-CASCAPE Best Fit Practices in the Ethiopian agriculture system

From July 16-19, 2019 BENEFIT-CASCAPE held Best Fit Practices (BFPs) manual review and evaluation workshop at Bin Hotel, Bishoftu.  The workshop was attended by 29 participants from Ministry of Agriculture (representing agricultural extension, crop production, horticultural development, animal feed, mechanization and soil fertility directorates), Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR) and CASCAPE staff.

Prior to the workshop, twenty six BFP manuals prepared by five universities clusters were edited, revised.  This workshop was relevant to review/evaluate/revise these manuals with relevant stakeholders before its dissemination to end users towards institutionalization of the manuals in the agricultural system.  The workshop was successful in collecting comments and suggestions to enrich the manual; create awareness of the manuals to experts (extension and research system) and identify practices to be included in the extension package (e.g. fertilizer rate, spacing).  Different future research and development thematic areas were also identified (e.g. the effect of lime and Rhizobium on next year crop yield using fixed plot approach).

Over all, the participants acknowledged and appreciated the effort and agreed to use them in the extension system.  At the end, with the leadership of CASCAPE and the extension directorate, a team was formed to follow up on comments and handover the manuals to high-level officials of MoA at the end of September, 2019.

BENEFIT Partnership playing active role towards producing better citizen generated data for SDG indicators

On July 29 – August 4 2019, BENEFIT participated in Training of Trainers on Citizen-Generated Data for SDG indicators organized by UN Women. The main objective was to encourage better participation of Ethiopian non-governmental organizations to generate and analyze data for evidence-based advocacy and lobbying and to enhance Ethiopian non-governmental organizations familiarity in the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

The ToT undertaken for the first time was attended by 35 non-governmental organizations working in different development issues and professional associations. It was facilitated by the African Monitor based in South Africa that has experience in implementing and facilitating citizen generated data for SDG goals indicators in ten African counties.

As way forward, five representatives from different non-governmental organizations were given an assignment to establish a National level network to facilitate engagement of non-governmental organizations in the process for engaging citizens to better produce citizen generated data which could lead to alternative joint report. BENEFIT Partnership was one of the five committee members selected. This is a great opportunity to share BENEFIT experiences with various stakeholders.

Seed Producer Cooperatives benefit from crop insurance in eastern part of Ethiopia

Towards strengthening the stability of Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) and protect them against losses caused by crop failure, one of BENEFIT-ISSD’s activities focus on piloting crop insurance for SPCs. Following an agreement made in 2017 between Chercher Odabultum Farmers’ Cooperative Unions (COBFCU) and the Oromia Insurance Company (OIC), Daro Gora SPC collected the first payment due to very poor 2018 rainfall performance in West Hararghe Zone. The payment that was based on Multiple peril crop insurance (MPCI), was worth about 900,000 Birr for a partial claim of 40% crop failure on 80ha of land.

The agreement covered three SPCs (Daro Gora, Milkessa Lafto Goba and Misoma Gudina) and was made with a 450,000 Birr capital to claim 9 million recoveries for complete loss that may happen in 2018. A total of 420 SPC members who were directly affected received payment from 1700 birr to 7775 birr. Farmers who benefited from this pilot insurance scheme noted that the effort has increased their confidence and commitment to make long term plans for their seed business.

ISSD insuarnce pic2

“I never thought insurance was available for farmers and crops,” said Kebede Ogecho, Daro Gora SPC members in Guba Koricha, father of eight. “We thank the Union for facilitating this insurance scheme. This initiative created motivation among members and non-members to invest more in seed production business”.

 

A guide to transform the national seed sector in Ethiopia

The National Seed Advisory Group (NSAG), together with the Seed Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) developed a document to guide and align the efforts of policy makers, development partners and practitioners towards transforming the national seed sector in Ethiopia. It covers the assessment of the current status of the seed sector and identifies major challenges along with strategic interventions to transform each of the seed sector key pillars, considering seed production, marketing, services, regulation, revenue generation, and overall coordination of the seed system. The document was developed by diverse organizations, among then BENEFIT-ISSD, and validated through stakeholders’ consultations at several fora. (Download the document here)  

Enabling private seed producers produce disease free potato mini-tuber

Even though potato is a high potential crop that contributes to food security, its productivity is very low in Ethiopia. Lack of disease free quality seed and especially the occurrence of bacterial wilt is a major challenge since the majority of farmers use farm saved potato seed from the local market or through seed exchange. The recent ISSD and ENTAG collaborative effort towards addressing this major limiting factor focused on provision of grants to a competitive private seed producer to produce and supply disease free quality potato minituber using screen house and drip irrigation technologies. ENTAG provided 25,000 Euro grant for Loma Azmir private seed producer one of the 4 direct private companies supported by ISSD Amhara unit since 2016.

Loma Azmir is expected to become one of the best seed producer companies of the region through the adoption and utilization of improved, efficient agricultural technologies and expect to contribute much for the seed sector development.

The production started with a construction of 15 m X 8m X 3 (Length, width and height) screen house and 8mx6mx5m Diffused Light Store (DLS) in the potato potential areas of East Gojam zone, Michael woreda, Amanuel kebele. The standard screen house is built with mush wire, cemented floor and uses ground water. It is equipped with drip pipes, hydraulically operated and diaphragm-actuated control valves and other components.

The potato mini-tuber, Dagem, Jaleni and Gudeni varieties were planted in 1500 pots. The producer is expected to produce 400 quintals of certified quality seed benefiting about 80 farmers in the initial stage (assuming that the average land holding for potato is 0.25 ha per farmer). Loma Azmir recruited one expert specialized in agronomy, and constructed the store and office in the farm site.

While ENTAG contributed by allocating the grant, ISSD Amhara unit supported the seed producer in creating linkage with (plant supplier, Woreda office of agriculture, quality regulatory authority and Adate Agricultural Research Center) and facilitated linkage with Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara Region (ORDA) to get  mini-tuber, and provided technical support at field level.        

AGOA – NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR THE SPICE AND HERBS SECTOR

Ethiopia offers numerous advantages to foreign investors interested in using Ethiopia as a springboard to reach the U.S. market. This is reflected in the recent growth of Ethiopia’s exports under African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), particularly in the textiles and apparel sector. Taking advantage of the recently-renewed (AGOA) legislation up to 2025, Ethiopia developed a National AGOA Strategy and Action Plan 2019-2025.

As key partners in the strategy development process, ENTAG through the Ethiopian Spice Aromatic and Herbs Growers and Processors Association (ESAHGPA) made valuable contributions to ensure inclusion of spice and herbs on the list of products along with cut flower, edible oil (sesame) and coffee. This is believed to play a vital role in attracting more foreign and local investors to invest in the Ethiopian spice and herbs sector to exploit the 2.4 billion USD spice and herbs market using taking advantage of tax free AGOA.

 

Assessment of effective seed dissemination mechanisms

An ISSD-OSE (Oromia Seed Enterprise) unit conducted an assessment of effective seed dissemination mechanism to identify the best seed dissemination mechanisms; type of crop that farmers prefer to distribute among themselves; number of farmers involved in the process; and to differentiate between farmers (male or female) who use recycled seed often. This assessment was conducted in six woredas in Oromia region, where ISSD programme started implementing crowd sourcing (CS) approach in informal seed system in 2017 cropping season. Results of the assessment:-

  • The major mechanism farmers use to disseminate preferred varieties is selling, followed by seed exchange with another seed/varieties.
  • There is a marked variation in seed dissemination across woredas.
  • From varieties deployed through this programme, farmers recycled more seeds of pulses like faba bean and haricot bean than other crop types.
  • CS and Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) approaches are a good ways to address the needs and interests of women and men farmers.
  • Women farmers are relatively good in disseminating varieties in small amount through exchanges / gifts.
  • Majority of the farmers start disseminating seeds in different forms after they have increased the amount growing the crop for two or more seasons.
  • The deployed varieties are reaching farmers beyond the woredas it was first introduced.
  • Weak monitoring support from DAs and woreda experts have limited wider dissemination of seed through CS and PVS.

 

BENEFIT-REALISE best fit practices bridging food gap

Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) beneficiary households are resource poor subsistence farmers who are vulnerable to shocks. Creating access to best practices for enhanced production and productivity of PSNP households through validation and demonstration is an important intervention focus of BENEFIT-REALISE. The best fit practices of potato package comprising high yielding variety of Belete variety, agronomic practice and crop protection approaches was demonstrated on irrigated land by Mekelle University cluster.

The result of the intervention following the harvest in May, proved that adopting BENEFIT-REALISE potato best practice contributes in bridging the food gap at critical time of food shortage in the months June, July, August and September as reported in the baseline survey. (below)

food gap chart

Contribution of BENEFIT-CASCAPE’s Wheat Best Fit Practice to National Wheat Self-Sufficiency

In spite of their significant contribution to boost production and productivity of farmers, most of the agricultural technologies developed by the research system have not adequately reached its beneficiaries. It is estimated that only about 31 percent of smallholder farmers are using full package of improved practices. Some of the main reasons for low uptake of improved technologies are related to lack of farmer participation in the technology development process, and poor technology promotion approaches. Recognizing this, BENEFIT-CASCAPE uses innovation pathways to test, validate and scale best fit practices (BFPs).

In the case of wheat, BENEFIT-CASCAPE BFP has been assessed across Amhara, Oromia, South and Tigray regions. The pre-extension demonstration (PED) result shows that the average yield of wheat using BFP technologies is 4.9qt/ha while the local practices is 2.6qt/ha and the nation average being 2.7qt/ha. The yield advantage of BENEFIT-CASCAPE PED over local practices and national average is 88.46 and 75.00 %, respectively.

Considering that Ethiopia has 4.64 million smallholder farmers growing wheat on a total area of 1.7million ha of land, with an average production level of 2.7qt/ha, the national production volume is approximately 4.6million tons. This falls short of the domestic demand and thereby requiring for the government to import wheat to fill the existing gap. In 2018, Ethiopia imported 3.7 million tons to meet the total national consumption level of 8.3 million tons.

Based on the results of BENEFIT-CASCAPE PED, Ethiopia can indeed produce the 8.2 million tons of wheat needed for national consumption (4.9qt/ha ∗ 1.7 million ha=8.33), Hence, the overall adoption of best fit practice of wheat in the wheat-growing area of Ethiopia would bridge the gap to national wheat self-sufficiency.

Contributed by Akalu Teshome, PhD – BENEFIT-CASCAPE Socio-Economic Expert 

 

 

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