Category Archives: Collaboration

The Second BENEFIT ISSD-Ethiopia seed alert highlights the effect of COVID-19 mobility restrictions on the Ethiopian seed sector

The second BENEFIT ISSD-Ethiopia COVID-19 seed alert that was published this week highlighted issues related to release and registration of new varieties, timely supply of early generation seed (EGS),  quality assurance in EGS production, reduced availability of varieties in high demand and challenges related to producers access to agro-inputs, labor and finance.

The 2nd seed alert (#02 June 2020 seed alert) outlines COVID-19 related major challenges and urgent actions needed in the Ethiopian seed sector, based on virtual surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders. It outlines the major alerts, their impacts, actions required, stakeholders involved, and a responsible body to take the initiatives. The effort is designed and initiated by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and ISSD Ethiopia Program to raise awareness on the situation and its impact of COVID on the seed sector.

Read more

Minimizing the effect of COVID-19 on the Ethiopian poultry sector

On June 9, 2020, BENEFIT-ENTAG published a brief that outlines the major effects of  COVID-19 on the performance of the Ethiopian poultry sector and specific recommendations the government and other development partners should consider to minimize the already observed negative impact. The brief was based on a quick assessment conducted through a survey distributed to (15) medium to high Poultry farms representing commercial farms and selective telephone interviews.

Prior to COVID-19, commercial poultry farms have been expanding, increasing the production rate of commercial poultry farms to meet the increasing demand in the country. Now, the pandemic is negatively impacting the sector and poultry production and consumption rates are declining greatly. The shortage of day old chicks that sustain the production cycle and the escalating price of chicken products is a clear indication that we are approaching the days where scarcity of chicken products is unavoidable. As chicken has a huge role in producers economy and income and household nutrition and food security, it is imperative for all actors to support continuity of activities of the sector to meet the growing demand.

Major challenges highlighted included (i) reduced access to inputs; (ii) reduced access to market; (iii) impact on employment; (iv) lack of storage facilities and wastage of products; and (v) increasing feed price and unregulated market.

Recommendations focused on

  1. Organize grouped slaughtering points and support the installation of a cold chain;
  2. Support a well-functioning market linkage;
  3. Mitigate short-term COVID-19 impacts via dedicated financial facilities;
  4. Improve access to foreign currency to expedite import of essential inputs; and
  5. Promote consumption through national campaigns, ensuring emergency measures do not affect the supply chain and addressing logistics issues
No Production Production rate after COVID-19 Total Loss in ETB Remarks
1 Feed Reduced by 92% 135,281,789
2 Day old chicks Reduced by 68% 74,120,800 3,500 parent stocks have been lost due to slaughtering
3 Pullets No production 3,531,699
4 Broilers Reduced by 87% 13,551,500 3,000kg has been disposed due to spoilage and 50,000 birds have died due to prolonged stay in production
Employee status before and after COVID-19 
Employees before the pandemic  Employees laid off after the pandemic
Permanent emplyees – 1728 (Male  1072, Female 656) Permanent emplyees – 31 (Male 20, Female 11)
Temporory employees – 214  (Male  14, Female 73) Temporory employees – 19 (Male 9, Female 10)

New effort to better understand and mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the seed sector: A collaborative effort between ISSD Ethiopia and WCDI

In response to COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on food security, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Program’s recent effort focuses on better understanding how the pandemic affects the seed sector and supports the development of urgent coping strategies that would enhance resilience and support continuity of activities of the seed sector. The initiative that was initiated and designed by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) aims at raising awareness on the situation and its impact on the seed sector. It is based on a country quick scan of the impact of COVID-19 and responses to the pandemic on different functions and practical activities in the seed sector.  It is implemented in four countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Myanmar), where ISSD program is already being implemented.

The first quick scan in Ethiopia was conducted in April and report issued during the first week of May. It was conducted through rapid remote survey and crop specific focus group discussions (FGDs), targeting maize and wheat seed systems. A panel of experts, representing government, research, seed companies, service delivery and farmer organizations, was established to answer survey questions on full range of seed value chain functions and seed value chain services and enablers. Closed questionnaire related to the level of impact on practical activities within the current frame in time were used to prioritize issues. A summary of the results generated automatically and further validated by virtual FGDs, focusing on maize and wheat seed systems. The validated alerts and the coping strategies are shared with pertinent stakeholders for take action.

Reiteration will be done at least monthly for the full duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly dashboards on outcomes of the periodical survey will be widely shared among stakeholder thorough meetings (taking the necessary precaution or using video conferencing taking the emerging restriction into consideration) and variety of communication tools mostly digital. [read more on “How does COVID-19 affect the seed sector” introductory brief here)

The outcome of the first of the assessment for the month of May (#01 May 2020 Seed Alert Ethiopia) has been shared with federal and regional stakeholders and decision makers, including the federal Ministry of Agriculture, the regional bureaus of agriculture and the Agricultural Transformation Agency as well as research system. (Click here a Q & A on the briefing). The May quick scan outcome highlighted the following Alerts

  • Alert 1: Precautions hamper seed processing and distribution
  • Alert 2: Short supply of inputs and labour constrain seed production
  • Alert 3: Social distancing diminishes government’s capability to coordinate EGS supply
  • Alert 3: Concern that substandard seed will make its way onto the market is heightened

For more information

 

THE BENEFIT PARTNERSHIP NEWSLETTER (January-March 2020)

We are pleased to share with you, the BENEFIT Partnership Newsletter for the months of January-March 2020. In this issue, we bring you highlights of stories, updates and news from the five BENEFIT programmes – ISSD, CASCAPE, ENTAG, SBN and REALISE over the last three months.

Linked with the declaration of COVID-19 as global pandemic and the follow up measures taken by the Ethiopian government, BENEFIT Partnership has taken precautionary measures since March 16, 2020 that are aligned with WUR provisions and local measures taken. These are related with revision of annual plans and implementation strategies. In addition, there has been an internal discussion about how BENEFIT can contribute in line with its five programmes areas of expertise to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on food security in the country.

 

2019 Annual Report: Summary of Major Accomplishments

Find here 2019 BENEFIT Partnership Annual Report: Summary of major achievements brochure that is summarized based on the result chain outputs, which are related to

i. enhancing portfolio collaboration among BENEFIT programmes;
ii. increasing quality and quantity of agricultural production;
iii. improving markets and trade;
iv. improving the enabling environment for the agricultural sector; and
v. enhancing partnership for synergy.

Click here to find the full 2019 BENEFIT Partnership Annual Report.

BENEFIT-REALISE handed over a countrywide 50-meter geomorphic map

BENEFIT-REALISE programme handed over a nationwide 50-meter geomorphic map to stakeholders, including Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), at the workshop held on 9 March 2020. The base map is a tool applicable for soil/land resource mapping, agro-ecological zonation and other biophysical mapping missions. The workshop was attended by 25 participants from various relevant institutions: MoA, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia Construction Design and Supervision works (ECDSWC), Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Alliance Biodiversity-CIAT, GIZ, Ethiopian Geospatial Information institute (EGII), International Soil Reference and Information Center (ISRIC), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), and BENEFIT Partnership (CASCAPE and REALISE).

The workshop was opened by H.E. Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister of MoA, National Resources and Food Security sector. He noted that the biophysical survey and mapping missions require a huge resource and highlighted the relevance of establishing a mechanism to avoid duplication of efforts, ensure coordination and harmonize approaches to efficiently utilize the available limited resources. He also said that generating soil information is one of the major components in the country’s 10 years agriculture strategy and discussions are already underway with development actors and donors to mobilize resource and develop applicable, site and context specific soil maps. He also stated that the Ministry is ready to utilize the countrywide base map developed by BENEFIT-REALISE with technical support from ISRIC. BENEFIT-REALISE programme, involving experts from MoA, is currently conducting surveys to develop 1:50,000 soil/landscape map of 18 woredas using the base map. MoA plans to use this experience to further develop a semi-detailed (1:50,000) soil/landscape maps of 480 woredas in the coming 10 years.

Johan Leenaars from ISRIC presented technical aspects of the map including an overview of geo data, model specifications, 3-D prediction, base map, and geomorphology and soils at different scales. That was followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Eyasu Elias, BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manager. During the discussion, the stakeholders appreciated the effort made to develop the countrywide 50-meter geomorphic map, and raised issues related to availability of the base map to stakeholders, precision (ground truth) of the base map, costliness related to the preparation of semi-detailed soil/landscape map, and the importance of overlaying soil/landscape map being prepared by BENEFIT-REALISE with soil fertility map of ATA. Soil Information and Mapping Directorate of MoA expressed its interest to use the base map for developing semi-detailed soil maps in many other woredas. However, support from development partners in building capacity of the MoA in the area is highly needed.

At the end of the workshop Remko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator from WUR, gave special thanks to all who contributed to this exercise and handed over the countrywide 50-meter geomorphic map on USB to the invited organizations.

If you are interested to access the map, please contact Soil Information and Mapping Directorate at MoA or BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager Dr. Tewodros Tefera at amede.tewodros@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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).

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.

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.

BENEFIT’s contribution to gender responsive agricultural mechanization

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

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

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

By Selamawit Firdissa, Gender & Nutrition Expert, BENEFIT PCU

 

 

Strengthening partnership to boost malt barley production for breweries

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

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

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

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

Capacity building on mainstreaming nutrition in agriculture

Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) from April 30th-May 4th, 2019 at Executive Hotel, Adama. The objective of the training was to enhance the knowledge, skills and Practices (KAP) of staff at Regional and Zonal Agricultural offices, Regional Agricultural Research Centers as well as guide the nutrition practices of partner organizations operating in Oromia region. As close collaborators and partners, BENEFIT programmes (BENEFIT PCU, CASCAPE, ISSD and REALISE) attended the ToT.

The Ministry shared the newly developed NSA Training Manual which aims to contribute towards improving the nutritional status of mothers and children in Ethiopia by providing a framework that guides the activities of practitioners at grassroots level. It provides technical inputs on the contribution of good nutritional status to human resource development by linking it with diversified production, market, gender and WASH. More practical sessions were held on appropriate intervention approaches for improved nutrition, social and behavioral change, and multi-sectoral coordination. Following the completion of the Training Manual, the Ministry has organized ToTs in Tigray, Amhara and SNNP, and the session in Adama was organized particularly for Oromia region.

The training was a great opportunity to discuss future collaboration with the Ministry and better understand its implementing structures at regional and zonal levels.

By Selamawit Firdissa and Addisalem Ambaye

Strengthening partnership to support the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture Women’s Affairs Directorate

The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Women’s Affairs Directorate (WAD) requested technical and financial support from its partners to strengthen its activities from Federal to Woreda level. This was raised during the Ethiopian Network for Gender Equality in Agriculture (ENGEA) advisory team meeting held by Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Addis Ababa on 06 May 2019. Support areas highlighted included

  1. Capacity building of MOA WAD office staff through training and various engagements
  2. Familiarising/cascading policy documents of MOA WAD office to the regions (for example the national gender equality strategy)
  3. Translate the national gender equality strategy to local languages
  4. Hiring technical advisors for the WAD office
  5. Preparation of standard training manual, translated to local languages

The ENGEA was established in Addis Ababa on December 29th, 2015 to ensure gender responsiveness of agricultural policies, strategies, programs, projects and plans through coordination of knowledge, experience sharing among stakeholders, systematic analysis and prioritization of issues. The network includes representatives of NGOs (local and international), the government and its affiliates, bilateral and multilateral organizations representing academia and research entities operating around gender issues. The Advisory Team of ENGEA includes 12 members: Oxfam International, CARE, USAID, CRS, BENEFIT, SNV, ILRI, EIAR, World Bank, Canadian Embassy, Orthodox Church Development Organization and the Ministry of Women and Children. The team members were selected looking at their active engagement in the sector and the their ability to fully commit expert’s time to serve in the team.

Contributed by Selamawit Firdissa

 

Congratulations to the winners of 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food

The 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food is awarded to Dr. Baldwyn Torto (International Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology, Kenya) in the “Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development” category; Dr. Jan Leach (Colorado State University, USA) in the “Distinguished Scientist” category and Dr. Julius Adewopo (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Rwanda) in the “Young Promising Scientist” category. The winners will receive a plaque certificate and prize of €20,000 each.

The 2019 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security, has been awarded in parallel to the project “Innovation Mapping for Food Security – IM4FS” led by Dr. Tomaso Ceccarelli (Wageningen Environmental Research, The Netherlands) and Dr. Elias Eyasu Fantahun (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia). The winning research project receives US$75,000 funding to support its further development.

The 2019 Award ceremony will be held in Montpellier (France) during the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, the 22nd of May, 2019. [Read the full press release here]

Coordination of Resilient Development in Ethiopia

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Peace (MoP) in Ethiopia and development partners organized a two-day workshop on ‘Coordination of Resilient Development in Ethiopia’. The purpose of the workshop was to enhance coordination in resilience building processes; discuss ownership, institutionalization and sustainability of coordination structures and gender sensitive coordination of resilience building processes. The workshop was held from April 10-11, 2019 at Liesak Resort, Bisoftu.

Although the workshop aimed to strengthen coordination among stakeholders involved in relief and development initiatives, the overall discussion was dominated by coordination among relief and emergency interventions. On the April 11th discussion, BENEFIT-REALISE flagged its concern that the role of Research and Development programmes in resilience building was sidelined. As a result, a separate group discussion was organized between FAO, UNDP, BENEFIT-REALISE, and a Canada supported Initiative who agreed on the relevance of strengthening coordination among resilience development programmes to ensure long-term impact. Looking forward, the team also agreed to map out potential partners to be involved in the resilience coordination and develop a standard operating procedure to guide the coordination efforts. A meeting will be organized to identify a champion organization to co-chair resilience building coordination among development partners.

With regard to gender mainstreaming in coordination, it was suggested for MoP to hire a Senior Gender Expert who will be a member of the higher coordination body (Pastoral Multi Actors Platform – PASMAP) and lead the gender taskforce. This can be applied both at federal and regional levels.

By Tewodros Tefera (PhD), BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager, Ethiopia

ICT for agricultural extension in Ethiopia: current status and potential ICT solutions

Recognizing the relevance of ICT development solutions for improved agricultural extension services, and its contribution towards timely adoption of available best fit practices, the BENEFIT Partnership programme participated in a one-day “ICT for agricultural extension in Ethiopia” conference on April 11, 2019 at ILRI campus. The conference was organized by MoA in collaboration with ILRI, Farm Radio and Digital Green. The main objectives of the conference were (i) to enhance the understanding of the current and potential ICT solutions for agricultural extension services in Ethiopia; (ii) to establish a technical working group to facilitate dialogue, joint learning and collaboration among ICT solution providers, users, policy makers and investors; and (iii) to generate inputs for the development and implementation of a guideline, for the ICT pillar of the National Agricultural Extension Strategy.

The conference was attended by policy makers from MOA, officials of development partners, ICT solution providers, agricultural practitioners, donors and agricultural extension professionals.

Content wise, the conference started with an official opening session that emphasized the importance of appropriate public measures to improve the agriculture sector. The presentation showed, even though Ethiopia’s national agricultural extension systems has more than 60,000 Development Agents (DAs) and about 14,000 Farmers Training Centers (FTCs), the coverage of the service is limited with an estimated reach of 25% (14 million smallholder farmers). In this regard, the importance of ICT in the agricultural extension services was mentioned in terms of its contribution to (i) strengthen the skill and knowledge of actors especially in terms of empowering extension agents; (ii) the possibility of expansion the reach of the extension services; and (iii) improving the contents of the agricultural extension services through digital feedback systems.

A panel discussion was held following the poster presentations of 14 ICT solutions implemented in Ethiopia by diverse actors. The conclusion of the discussions made can be summarized as follow:

  1. MoA to play a leading role in strengthening the collaborations among ICT solution producers, agricultural research organizations, agricultural service providers, market actors and end users (farmers and pastoralists);
  2. Engaging with both public and private actors to ensure the expansion and improved access to required ICT infrastructure; and
  3. The need to ensure relevance and quality of content by improving not only extension-farmers linkage but also strengthening Research-Education-Extension-Farmers’ linkage. This requires for the ICT solution providers to consider these dimensions of extension service provision.

The conference was concluded by highlighting that ICT application in the agricultural service is at its infant stage and the need to continue the discussion by organizing follow up events by the organizing committee members (MoA, ILRI, Digital Green and Farm Radio).

By Dawit Alemu (PhD), The BENEFIT Partnership Manager, Ethiopia

National Seminar on Agricultural Mechanization and Commercial Agriculture

A joint seminar on agricultural mechanization and commercial agriculture was organized by the Policy Study Institute (PSI) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to deliberate on international and national experiences as an input for Ethiopian policy makers. The seminar was held on March 25, 2019 at Best Western Hotel, Addis Ababa. As mechanization, and in recent years commercial farming have become one of the priorities of the Ethiopia agricultural transformation agenda of Ethiopia, the seminar saw high level attendance, by among others, HE Mr. Daisuke Matsunaga – Japanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, PSI Director – Ato Ahmed Abetew, MoA Director General – Ato Germame Garuma – Amhara Bureau of Agriculture Head, Dr Bosena Tegegn and Dr Bart Minton from IFPRI and Dr Irene Koomen from BENEFIT Partnership, WUR.

The first presentation by Prof Keijiro Otsuka of Kobe University, Japan focused on mechanization for smallholder farmers. Prof Otsuka key messages included (i) it is more costly to use large scale machines than using small-scale machines; (ii) in spite of increase in cost of production, mechanizations does not increase productivity significantly; and (iii) labour saving due to use of large scale machines implies significant job loss. Accordingly, he argued that large scale mechanization in low income countries is a mistake and recommended being careful with large scale mechanization programmes within the context of a country transitioning for low to middle income. Mechanization options have to be context and locality specific. Farm size is also an important indicator for the success or failure of mechanization, where there is inverse relationship between farm size and productivity levels (yield /ha). In other words, small family farms are more efficient that large farms based on hired labour.

The second presentation by Dr. Tadesse Kuma of PSI focused on status of large and medium scale commercial farming in Ethiopia. The main messages of Dr Tadesse were that the overall performance of current licenced commercial farming and those under implementation is very low resulting in abundance of un-utilized fertile land that could have been used by smallholders. Those under implementation are utilizing a small proportion of land allocated. The key reasons for poor performance of the commercial farming sector was reported to be (i) poor initial assessment about the relevance in terms of experience and capacity to run commercial farms; (ii) limited follow up and support by relevant public authorities to the licenced commercial farms; and (iii) poor technical and financial capacity of commercial farms in farming.

The Ethiopian government’s intention to promote commercial farming was (i) to ensure knowledge and technology transfer to the surrounding smallholder farmers; (ii) to boost the availability of required raw materials for the emerging agro-industry sector; (iii) to enhance foreign currency earnings through promoting agricultural export; and (iv) to create rural job opportunities.

The discussions following the presentations reassured (i) the need to be context specific in promoting agricultural mechanizations; (ii) mechanization related activities to be market driven; and (iii) the need to revisit the approaches being followed to promote commercial farming in the country

The seminar was relevant to better understand the different strategic options of promoting agricultural mechanization in Ethiopia based on the experiences in several countries as it informs ongoing discussions and efforts made by BENEFIT in facilitation of improved mechanization for both smallholder farmers and commercial farms.

Contribution by BENEFIT PCU