Category Archives: BENEFIT news

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.

Partnership among higher learning institutes, research and extension to enhance agricultural technology testing and validation through mandate zonation

The different interventions of BENEFIT Partnership programmes in Ethiopia have demonstrated the importance of testing and validation to promote locally appropriate suitability agricultural technology that fit the country’s diverse agro-ecologies. One of the targeted mechanisms for sustainable technology testing and validation that BENEFIT partnership has been promoting was the creation of institutionalized linkages among higher learning institutes (HLIs), research institutes and extension within a specified and targeted area or mandate zone.

Following a number of stakeholders’ meetings to deliberate on the importance and the mechanism of the mandate zonation approach, an agreement was reached on March 11, 2020 to pilot mandate zonation in 10 zones of the four major regions (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray) starting from the upcoming production season. A document that shows the implementation modalities and plan action along with the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed at zonal level were presented and discussed.

In general, the main objective of the piloting phase of mandate zonation for technology testing and validation was envisaged to generate key lessons that will allow the scaling up of the approach at national level. The strategic steps in institutionalization of mandate zonation for agricultural technology introduction, testing and validation agreed were:

  1. Overall leadership of facilitation, M&E and learning led by the MoA
    • Lead piloting for the first three years with selected members
    • Facilitate M&E learning among members of the National Agriculture Research System (NARS) and Regional BoA regularly;
    • Develop details of the role and responsibilities of the members of the NARS and MoA/BoA/Zonal for their respective mandate zones;
    • Design the national level institutionalization strategy of mandate zonation for technology introduction, testing and validation;
    • Establish a link with respective BOA/Zonal and Woreda offices of agriculture for wider adoption of introduced, tested and validated technologies;
    • Ensure the engagement of HLIs together with the MoSHE
  2. Regular documentation of agricultural technologies that are available and establishing a system for easy access to these identified technologies- led by EIAR and RARIs
    • One of the challenges is lack of knowledge about existing agricultural technologies. This demands to establish a database;
    • For crops, there is a national crop variety registry but limited information is available for other agricultural technologies;
    • Once available technologies are known, initial multiplication based on demand for introduction, testing and verification will be made;
    • Centralize exchange system of multiplied technologies among NARS members will be established either at national and/or regional level;
    • The technology exchange actors like Public Seed Enterprises can be considered (ESE, ASE, OSE and SSE) to facilitate the process
  3. Mandate zonation of members of the NARS for testing and validation for respective members of the NARS,
    • Pilot the approach in 10 zones;
    • Details of the roles and responsibility of the mandated NARS member and the Zonal Office of Agriculture will be clearly defined with associated budget and human resource (HR) allocation;
    • In case of presence of two or more members of the NARS, proper delineation of roles based on the areas of specialization will be made;
    • Linking Farmer Training Centres (FTCs) with nearby mandated member of the NARS for ATITV; and
    • Some members of the NARS will have wider (national or regional) mandate depending on respective role and responsibility of the national agricultural research system.
  4. Institutionalizing the process for responsibility sharing and accountability
    • Development of detail procedures along with roles and responsibilities for cascading the mandate zonation all over the country;
    • Clear linkage of the mandated member of the NARS with the zonal and woreda offices of agriculture – shared responsibility
    • Ensuring the proper linkage of the mandated member of the NARS with ARDPLAC
    • Ensuring the proper linkage of the mandated member of the NARS with FTC (s) found in each mandate zone;
    • Regular evaluation of the progress made for effective learning and continuous learning at national, regional and zonal level; and
    • As part of the activity under ADPLAC, regular updating to the constituencies of ADPLAC will be made.

BENEFIT Partnership programme will be actively engaged in the piloting process at federal level and lower level by engaging its implementing partners.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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