Category Archives: News

The new face of wheat – Unlocking the potential of wheat farmers in Omonada district, Southwestern Ethiopia

Wheat has been an important traditional staple crop in southwestern Ethiopia for generations. But for Chaleleka Donga Kebele (ie Peasant Association) farmers, wheat is starting to have a new meaning. Today, through BENEFIT-CASCAPE (CApacity building and SCAling up of evidence-based best Practices in Ethiopia) programme, farmers are producing sur-plus wheat, signs of new technologies are visible on small plots of land, and above all the programme succeeded in changing the mindsets of farmers beyond subsistence farming into market-oriented farming.

Read here the story of two farmers, Alifya Abasharaf, a 35 year-old mother of five and Rida Abagumbul, a 40 year-old father of seven who improved their livelihoods by transforming their small plots of land into income producing businesses.

Working together towards better soil fertility management for increased crop production

On January 23, 2019, BENEFIT-CASCAPE held a one day seminar on Integrated Soil Fertility Management at Elily Hotel, Addis Ababa. The seminar was attended by 25 experts and representatives from government offices (MoA), research centers (EIAR, RARIs), ATA (Agricultural Transformation Agency), universities,  International Livestock Research Institutes (ILRI), GIZ, IFDC, ISRIC, the Netherlands Embassy, BENEFIT-CASCAPE staff members in Addis Ababa and WUR. The platform was a great opportunity to look at the soil agenda at the higher level, and jointly develop crop, area and soil based validations and recommendations, relevant to the farming community.

Soil being a non-renewable resource in Ethiopia, the participants looked at existing soil information systems, Ethiopia soil fertility strategy, issues related to blended fertilizer and validation experiments happening at different levels and the country’s potential to meet its wheat demand with Integrated Soil Fertility Management approach. The seminar was relevant to share relevant soil fertility initiatives happening at different levels and reach consensus on how to move forward to present the validation findings and recommendations to policy makers.

Following presentations from MoA, ATA, EIAR, N2Africa (ILRI), ISRIC, Mekelle University, and BENEFIT-CASCAPE, the participants agreed to work in collaboration to develop an action plan to develop a succinct and consistent advice that provides good guidance to parliamentarians. It was agreed for EIAR to lead the task force and for the workplan to be developed by March, so that validation results can be applied in the coming growing season.

 

 

Bridging the Gap between Industries and University Graduates

“Youth Business Challenge” is an initiative that was developed by ENTAG (Ethiopia-Netherlands Trade for Agriculture Growth) and AgriProFocus in support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Ethiopia. It seeks to promote youth entrepreneurship and bridge the gap between industries and recent university graduates. On February 25, 2019, 19 university graduates organized in five multidisciplinary teams presented their business plan in front of a panel of judges and project partners at the Netherlands (EKN) embassy compound. The judges selected “Production of vermicompost from potato waste” as the wining concept for Seneselet Food Processing PLC and “Feather meal production from by-product of boiler feather” won the concept for Chico Meat factory. The certification process was done by H.E. the Ambassador of the Netherlands Mr. Bengt van Loosdrecht.

The one of a kind project designed to support recent university graduates develop problem solving mentally through training and technical support was tailored towards waste management problems forwarded by the 2 volunteering Dutch companies in agribusiness (Chico Meat and Senselet Food processing Plc). Following the introduction of the programme the five teams presented the following business plans

(i) “Feather meal production from the by-product of broiler feathers” by the Visionaries

(ii) “Production of Vermicompost from Potato waste” by Potato waste processing group

(iii) “Chicken feather for production of pillows” by The Ants

(Iv) “Production of bioplastic and bioethanol from potato waste

(v) “Fidopica feed: A project on waste management from poultry processing by The Optimizers

For the last two months, the teams received several trainings along with discussions with the companies to develop their solutions on how to add value to waste towards circular economy. Prior to the final decision, the groups were given an opportunity to further explain, potential labor opportunities for women and youth, market opportunities, availability of processing products, bases for final product price estimate and also had the opportunity to show their end products.

youthchallenngepicindoc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ensuring inters are meeting their learning objectives – BENEFIT-ENTAG 2nd midterm internship review meeting

On January 1, 2019, BENEFIT-ENTAG post-graduate internship project held its second midterm review meeting with twenty interns from across four regions. The meeting was organized to evaluate the various activities in the internship programme, address issues to effectively utilize the remaining internship period and contribute towards effective management of the project in the future.  The twenty interns are recent BSc and MSc graduates from different universities in agribusiness, horticulture and other agricultural disciplines. Thus far, the project has places over 80 interns with an existing host companies engaged in horticulture, spices, aquaculture etc.

Shitaye Adugna, ENTAG Innovation and Internship Manager who facilitated the meeting presented the objectives  as follows

  • To evaluate orientation training, learning plan and internship objectives and to analyse its practicality in terms of actual interns’ performances
  • To enable interns to effectively utilize the remaining internship period
  • To identify problem areas and rectify them
  • To provide feedback for effective management of the program in the future

During the first session, the interns shared their experiences working with farmers, coffee quality and processing, marketing agro chemicals and pesticides, conducting environmental and social impact assessment, compost production to increase coffee production, crop management, conducting baseline survey, reviewing corporate social responsibility, laboratory control etc. 90% said they are very happy with their experience while 10% need some support in addressing some issues to ensure their intern experience become fruitful.

Discussion highlights

  • The value of having a well qualified, knowledgeable and skilled supervisor who is willing to give the interns a meaningful learning experience was raised repeatedly. The goal of the project is to give the interns enough exposure and practical experience to build their confidence and enhance their employability. Out of twenty, only three reported lack of proper support from supervisors. Some of the challenges inters faced in this area included
    • Supervisors not willing to show interns the different aspects of the business and the tendency to keep them in one area (eg. Production)
    • In most cases, supervisors who have lower level of education are intimidated by the inters and are resistance to give their full support to the interns (job security).
  • Hard work, good attitude and willingness to learn have more value that education for most companies. Some were even told, if they want to continue working as regular employees they will have to take low salary that might not reflect their educational background. In those circumstances, the interns were advices to continue working until a better opportunity comes up.
  • It was noted that to get maximum benefit from the internship experience timing of placement is crucial. Some missed the planting season and started during harvest, limiting their experience in the 4 months given for the internship.
  • Distance of field work and lack of proper transport is a challenge raised by those who work closely with farmers.
  • Relevance of confidence and networking in securing a job was highlighted.

 

Testimonies

“In spite of the hardship, the hot and dry weather, and difficulty to reach farmers in remote place, it is very gratifying to see the changes in the lives of the farmers. We learned a lot and have a lot to teach others. I have seen a farmer transform his life within a short period of time and I want to do the same.”   Aniyo Yohannes Animal Production Coordinator at Temesgen Retebo Integrated Farm

“I work closely with a person who has over 11 years’ experience in agro chemical and I have learned a lot from him. I did not know much about marketing before, but now I know I am good at it. I go around and talk to farmers to better understand their needs. I can answer questions on crop chemical and pesticides better than those who studied crop production. The best thing I have learned is the value of networking. Whenever opportunities arise, I give my number and ask how I can help.” Wolde Ayano, Sales Officer at Alema Farm

Hikma Sultan, Assistant Internship Coordinator at BENEFIT/ ENTAG “I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. I am placed in a good environment where I can learn a lot. I am getting experience in organizing meetings, budgeting, facilitating payments etc.  I am also using the opportunity to network and meet people. What I like the most about working with my supervisor is the fact that I have a weekly learning plan where I get to learn something new every week. Day by day I am more confident I can deliver tasks assigned to me.”

 

Gender Mainstreaming and Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) training for agriculture researchers

Gender Mainstreaming (GM) in agricultural research and Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) trainings were provided for two Oromia agricultural research institute centers – Jimma Agricultural Engineering Research Center and Bedelle Soil Research Center. The training was organized following the findings of a skill gap analysis conducted by CASCAPE Jimma University. 26 researchers attended the training at Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine on 17-19 December 2018. The trainings was facilitated by BENEFIT-PCU gender and nutrition expert.

The purposes of the trainings were to build the capacity of researchers in gender mainstream in agricultural research, understand why nutrition matters in agriculture, linkages between nutrition and agriculture, the concepts of NSA and its principles, and how to mainstream NSA in their respective work. The experimental design and impact analysis using the data analysis software such as R and STATA were the gist of the training.

The trainings were supported with power point presentations, Focus group discussion, group exercise, statistical figures, videos, and pictures. The researches appreciated the training, with regards to its relevance in content, knowledge gained from skilled experts, and good facilitation technique used throughout the trainings. At the end they expressed their commitment to internalize the concepts and skills they acquired in their day to day research activities. All training material used during the training and additional reading materials were distributed to the trainees.

Contributed by Selamawit Firdissa (BENEFIT-PCU) & Wondimu Tesfaye (JU-CASCAPE)

 

 

Collaborative partnership for better technology selection and intervention planning

Leveraging partnerships for effective development planning, BENEFIT-REALISE, held a two-day workshop to align available technologies from research institutions (Ethiopian Institute for Agriculture Research (EIAR) & Regional Agriculture Research Institutes), BENEFIT-CASCAPE, BENEFIT-ISSD and NGOs and strengthen partnership to foster better collaboration. Over fifty participants representing federal and regional research institutes, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), NGOs (SNV) and BENEFIT programmes staff attended the workshop.

Following the welcoming remark and introduction, the PRA process and the findings from 120 representative kebeles (full PRA, using ten tools in 24 and light PRA using two tools in 96 Kebeles) was presented.

The PRA looked at the farming systems and agro ecology; constraints in the farming systems; coping strategies; problems identified by women, youth, low asset farmers; capacities, opportunities, development partners present and existing resources.

The majority of the sessions were devoted to sharing experiences of BENEFIT programmes and research institutes to identify technology options, practices and key success factors BENEFIT-REALISE should consider in its intervention planning process. Lessons from the following were discussed in depth.

BENEFIT programmes

  1. CASCAPE best fit practices that match with REALISE woredas
  2. BENEFIT- ISSD – Strategies for addressing seed availability problems in BENEFIT-REALISE woredas

Presentations from federal and regional research institutes: crop and forage production and seed availability technology options for BENEFIT-REALISE to consider

  1. Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)
  2. Tigray Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) r
  3. Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI)
  4. Oromia Agriculture Research Institute (OARI)
  5. Southern Agriculture Research Institute (SARI)

During one of the sessions, the participants reviewed major components of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between MoALR, EIAR and ATA. The MOU was prepared at national level to clearly set roles and responsibilities of the three participating parties in joint validation of appropriate technologies, identification of appropriate fertilizer recommendation regimes and scaling strategies for successful technology promotion. The clusters will have their own MoU signed at regional level. To facilitate the discussion for partnership and collaboration an Institutional Advisory Structure was established at national level. The progamme also have seconded staff from RARI or EIAR depending on proximity to share lessons and experiences, to co-implement the programme and strengthen collaboration. Duration of the MoU is end of 2020.

 

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