Category Archives: BENEFIT news

BENEFIT Partnership 2016 – 2021 key achievements

We are glad to share with you a brochure outlining the key achievements of the BENEFIT Partnership programme and stakeholders over the last five years (2016-2021). The brochure highlights the overall accomplishments of the programmes and stakeholders. It also includes information on the results, change stories, challenges, lessons learned, and future opportunities.

A study on climate resilient agriculture and food systems in Ethiopia identifies key areas of concern

A recent study identifies climate information, water management, soil health and fertility, and promotion of climate smart agriculture inputs and technologies and policy issues as key areas of concern in enhancing climate resilience agriculture and food systems in Ethiopian.

The study indicates that climate information is critical for farmers to strategically plan their farming activities in light of the country’s heightened climatic variability, and it stresses the importance of having tailored weather information services for farmers in Ethiopia. It specifically recommends the integration of weather models for long term weather predictions, support for inter-ministry dialogue and liberalization of policy to support public-private partnership as key issues. It also recommends the integration of tailored weather advisory into the country’s extension systems and capacitating extension agents on how to use and disseminate climate technology information.

According to the findings of the study, soils in Ethiopian are unable to produce to their full potential due to severe degradation, deforestation, the trade-off of crop residue for livestock production, and increased high temperatures. In this regard, it advises expanding irrigation systems and restoring watersheds to ensure continued food production in the face of climate change.

The study also reveals that the promotion of climate smart agricultural practices has been affected by inadequate improved inputs and climate advisory on the technology packages. It proposes that untapped, tested climate smart agriculture technologies could be scaled up to increase Ethiopia’s climate resilience and food production.

The study emphasizes the importance of mainstreaming SMART action plans to realize the country’s climate-resilient strategies and policies and it further suggests mainstreaming weather advisory in the national extension systems, policy support to involve private service providers, support to farmers by subsidizing costs of agricultural insurance, climate information, strengthening capacities of research institutions, agro-weather and extension services, and support the government to establish strategic frameworks and plans that addresses the gaps in policy documents.

Please find the full report here:

WUR published a rapid country assessment on the impact of COVID-19 on Ethiopia food systems

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in collaboration with partner organizations in Ethiopia published a report Rapid country assessment: The impact of COVID-19 on the food system in Ethiopia” on key impacts of  COVID-19 crisis on Ethiopia food system. The brief published in July 2020 summarizes the effects of the lockdown measures on the most vulnerable groups, gaps identified in the data analysed and in government responses to the crisis, and actions required to address short-term priorities and challenges.

Key impacts highlighted in the report included

  1. Impacts on the agricultural sector will affect the entire economy
  2. The poverty rate is increasing
  3. Demand for high-value perishables is shrinking
  4. Reduced productivity and production puts the financial sector at risk
  5. Youth are facing job losses
  6. Availability of food is not an issue (yet), affordability is…

The brief also covers population subgroups who are most vulnerable to the crisis in different ways and looks at the effect of COVID-19 in relation to food system drivers, activities and outcomes.

The rapid country assessment of Ethiopia involved representatives of the following
organisations, who provided secondary data and reviewed draft versions of this  assessment: Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA); Agri-ProFocus, Agriterra, Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) Partnership, BENEFIT- Sesame Business Network, BENEFIT- Integrated Seed Sector Development Ethiopia, BENEFIT Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia, Fair and Sustainable Consulting, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), ICCO/Stichting Woord en Daad, International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI), and Netherlands Development Organization (SNV).

For other WUR rapid country assessments and effects of COVID-19 on different sectors look here.

BENEFIT-SBN published its first COVID-19 Sesame Alert

BENEFIT-SBN published its first Sesame Alert that highlights COVID-19 related challenges and urgent actions needed in the Ethiopian sesame sector. It was developed to better understanding how the virus and measures taken to cope with it are affecting the sesame sector and support the development of urgent coping strategies that enhance resilience and support continuity of activities of the sector. The brief outlines the major alters, their impacts, actions required, stakeholders involved, and a responsible body to take the initiatives.

The first quick scan started in mid-May. Based on sector transformation tool from aidenviromnet, a questionnaire (max 15 min) covering issues throughout the sesame value chain, including production, inputs, credit, market, labour, finance, extension, communication, collaboration was developed and shared on line with 75 respondents. The results of the questionnaires were then presented for Focus Group Discussion (FGDs), where local panel of 24 experts representing the government, research, the private identified coping strategies and responsible stakeholders to take action.

The sesame alter brief (#01 May 202 Sesame Alert) is being shared with relevant stakeholders of the sesame sector in three languages- English, Amharic and Tigrigna, via WCDI, BENEFIT and SBN websites and social media outlets. In addition there is a plan to share the information via regional media. In the coming weeks and months, BENEFIT-SBN will work with the stakeholders to initiate, drive and support actions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 related challenges.

The initiative is part of WUR effort working with strategic partners in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda to generate a set of targeted alerts to combat the spread of the virus and minimize its negative impact on food security. Reiteration of the quick scan will be done at least monthly for the full duration of the crisis.

Read more on #01 Ethiopia Sesame Alert – May 2020 

  • Alert 1: Reduced area of sesame cultivation affects future export revenues
  • Alert 2: Availability of labour and welfare of labourers are of major Concern
  • Alert 3: Mobility restrictions hamper input delivery and extension services
  • Alert 3: Increased production costs result in a more acute need for credit




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.


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).

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.

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

Increasing the productivity of women in agriculture – impact stories

Engaging women in agriculture research interventions enables them to aspire for better life, build assets, get a source of income, increase their yield, and enhance their access to agriculture training and technologies. This is proven by BENEFIT Partnership programmes where mainstreams gender and nutrition is a core component in all interventions.

Evidences show interventions that involved women (female headed households as well as wives in male headed households) contribute to enhance household food security, increase in income, improved nutrition and better access to education of children. Overall it increases women capability, confidence and contribution toward improved livelihood. Read more stories of women who benefited from technology testing and demonstration of BENEFIT programmes.

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

BENEFIT annual report 2018

The focus of the 2018 BENEFIT partnership have been on (i) further demonstration of evidences for the agricultural transformation agenda and enhancing the engagement to effectively communicate the evidences for development and policy; (ii) alignment with relevant initiatives including the Agricultural Transformation Agency, the Agricultural Growth Programme, and the Productive Safety Net Programme and other public programmes for synergy; (iii) creating evidences from by scaling of product & place and thematic collaborative activities; and (iv) strengthening of the mainstreaming of crosscutting issues mainly gender and nutrition in all BENEFIT programmes. The programme was also reviewed for its mid-term achievements by external consultants.

hand with leaf     1,813,946 farmers reached with increased productivity (direct and indirect)

264,674 farmers reached directly: 25% ♀ and 75% ♂; 28% youth under 35 years.

1.388.861 farmers reached with improved access to input markets

56,982 persons reached/trained with improved technology and skills: 40% ♀  and 60% ♂; 27% youth under 35 years.

261,334 trained farmers in sustainable agricultural production & practices: 31% ♀ and 69% ♂; 29% youth under 35 years.

4,525 farmers reached with improved access to output markets 20% ♀ and 80% ♂

Contributed to 19 substantial policy changes



114,998 of hectares of farm land used more eco-efficiently (direct and indirect)

1,048 companies with supported plan to invest, trade or provide services


For the complete executive summary click BENEFIT 2018 annual report executive summary

Contribution to the development of a national seed sector transformation agenda

BENEFIT-ISSD, Integrated Seed Sector Development in Ethiopia held a two-day workshop to contribute to the national seed sector transformation agenda and support regional seed core groups translate the recommendations into their unique situations across the regions.  Over 25 participants from four regional states of Ethiopia (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray), representing Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), regional core groups and federal seed unit, research institutes, bureaus of agriculture, seed regulatory bodies, seed enterprises, ATA, and NGOs (GIZ), and ISSD staffs attended the workshop. It was held on November 29 and 30, 2018 in Bishoftu, Pyramid Resort &Hotel and facilitated by team members of ISSD Ethiopia from Programme Management Unit (PMU) based in Addis Ababa. The workshop was a great success in creating a platform to share expertise and experiences, debate over priorities for change, and collectively agree on next step forward to bring transformational change.

ISSD’s discussion on seed sector transformation started in April 2018. The overall purpose was to better understand the seed sector, and formulate a joint vision, goals and strategies towards a self-sufficient, competitive, transparent, innovative and sustainable seed sector.  The workshop brought together key seed actors to discuss ways to bring fundamental structural and system changes to alleviate systemic problems in the seed sector. This workshop was organized as a follow up to further refine the recommendations from April’s meeting and present it to the newly appointed State Minister of MoA, H.E. Sani Reddi, for further discussion.

The first day morning session devoted to learn and discuss about three ISSD seed value chain innovations.  The “Seed Marketing – enhancing the efficiency of conventional seed marketing” presentation summarized the work that has been done in 2018. The “Sustainable Early Generation Seed (EGS) production and supply in Ethiopia” covered the progress made in the last two years, while “Establishing seed sector coordination body in Ethiopia” highlighted the need for coordinated and collective effort to drive the seed sector transformation agenda.

In the afternoon session, following the sector transformation framework developed by AidEnvironment, the participants were divided into 3 working groups to validate the goals and strategies drafted under six building blocks – production, market, services, finance, coordination and regulation and management.  The amendments proposed were discussed in plenary, and those changes agreed upon were incorporated to be presented for extended consultation with federal representatives the following day.

The second day was dedicated to further validate and refine the goals and strategies with representatives from federal MoA, ATA, EIAR and GIZ, and present the agreed upon outcome to H.E. H.E. Sani Reddi.  The workshop ended with agreement on next steps proposed by the State Minister, and his affirmation on the government’s commitment to work on the agreed upon priorities to transform the seed sector which is imperative to transforming the agriculture sector.





Facilitating market linkages for soybean buyers and sellers

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

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

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

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

By Selamawit and Yemisrach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The event received wide national and regional media coverage.


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

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

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

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

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




BENEFIT-Partnership: Results of the mid-term evaluation

BENEFIT Partnership conducted a mid-term review to assess the relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of the current BENEFIT Partnership.  In general, the evaluation shows that the four BENEFIT programmes (ISSD, CASCAPE, ENTAG and SBN) are on track to achieve most of their end targets and the results in terms of reach and creating an enabling environment are likely to exceed the original expectations. At the same time, the management of the partnership has been more complex than expected and collaboration on the ground is still relatively small compared to the full scope of the individual programmes. You can find summary of the MTR findings here.


BENEFIT Partnership launched new programme (BENEFIT-REALISE) to reach the chronic poor in Ethiopia

BENEFIT Partnership officially launched new BENEFIT-REALISE programme – Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia on August 24, 2018. The launching ceremony was officiated by the State Minister for Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MoALR) H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha, and Mr. Thijs Woudstra, Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) at Addis Ababa.  The three year programme aims to contribute to sustainable livelihoods through the introduction of improved farming practices, innovations and social experiments to strengthen the current Productive Safely Net Progamme (PSNP) in Ethiopia. The launching event was attended by over 50 participants representing government offices, implementing partners (universities), Agricultural Research Centers (ARCs), NGOs, WUR and BENEFIT Staff and the media.

Leveraging the last 7-8 experiences of BENEFIT-CASCAPE (Capacity building for Scaling up of evidence-based Practices in Agricultural Production) and BENEFIT-ISSD (Integrated Seed Sector Development), BENFIT-REALISE will validate Best Fit Practices, adapt and scale in PSNP woredas. Eight Ethiopian Universities are the main implementing partners (Haramaya University, Mekelle University, Hawassa University, Woldia University, Bahir Dar University, Arsi University, Arba Minch University, Oda Bultum University).  They will work closely with Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in Netherland, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MoALR), Food Security Directorate and Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EARI.  The programme will cover 60 woredas in four regional states (Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and SNNPR) of Ethiopia.

Key performance indicators at outcome level include:

  • 60 best fit practices validated and ready for scaling and 90,000 farmers adopt best fit practices through extension systems in selected 60 woredas;
  • 120,000 farmers regularly use quality seed made available by seed producers in informal, intermediary and formal seed systems;
  • 250 research and extension systems staff are capacitated to match, adapt, validate and scale best fit practices; and
  • 15 presentations of evidence-based programme results well received by relevant stakeholders and discussed at national and regional stakeholder platforms.


BENEFIT-REALISE programme is funded by Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) for a total of 8.6 Million Euro.

“REALISE working in PSNP areas is a challenge and an opportunity. It is a challenge since the project will be working with the rural poor facing chronic food insecurity who depended on aid for years.  It is an opportunity to identify innovative ways we can promote to build resilience and build assets so that more farmers can graduate from the PSNP program.” H.E. Eyasu Abraha, State Minister of MOALR

“Key to success is understanding the local context and winning the heart of the farmers since they are the executioners. The prospects are enormous and EKN is willing to continue its support through its development cooperation programme following its aid-trade-investment model.” and Mr. Thijs Woudstra, Head of Development Cooperation, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN)

BENEFIT-REALISE grouped pics

BENEFIT Newsletter (January-June 2018)

We are pleased to share with you, BENEFIT Newsletter for January-June 2018.  In this issue, we bring you highlights of stories, updates and news about our initiatives implemented by BENEFIT Partnership that unites four programmes – ISSD, CASCAPE, ENTAG and SBN.  Some of the topics covered include BENEFIT Partnership influencing sector policies and institutional arrangements, Leveraging opportunities to empower women in Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs), Effective learning through strategic capacity development and cascading approach, Addressing trade barriers levied by India and Pakistan: the case of Methly-bromideScaling loan guarantees to alleviate financial constraints for sesame growersImproving collaboration in mainstreaming social inclusion and nutrition, BENEFIT-REALISE (Realizing Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia): new BENEFIT  programme reaching the chronic food insecure farmers in Ethiopia, BENEFIT-CASCPAE & ISSD collaboration for home garden intervention in Ethiopia, etc .

BENEFIT Newsletter (January-June 2018)

CASCAPE Data Analysis and Synthesis Workshop: Changing Data into Information and Wisdom

Contributed by: Selome Kebede, BENEFIT Senior Communication Officer

BENEFIT-CASCAPE held a Data Analysis and Synthesis Workshop on April 16-19/2018, at South Star International Hotel in Hawassa. The four-day workshop was attended by twenty national and cluster staff members and focused on reviewing three sets of data collected in CASCAPE phase I and II. The training was the first of three trainings planned for 2018-2019 with the aim of turning data into information and information into wisdom. It was facilitated by Hanneke Heesmans from WUR and Peter Okoth, a consultant and soil science expert from Kenya with overall leadership of Eyasu and Eric as programe managers.

The first day of the workshop was dedicated to better understanding what good data vs just data means, steps to move from data to information, unblackboxing fieldwork data into output, outcome and impact level,  effective communication from data and using proper analytical tools and sharp eyes to analyze, synthesize, and communicate. Presentations were given by the facilitator and the consultant, Prof. Eric Smaling, CASCAPE Coordinator from WUR, NMPU (National Management Program Unit) and Cluster Managers. The participants learned steps towards assessing data quality, cross fertilization, and how to interpret and transfer data collected into a story that helps to gain insight.

The main data sets selected for the workshop were Drivers for Adoption (D4A), MonQIt and Fertilizer experiments (agronomic data). Enough time was allocated to identify gaps in existing data and reach an agreement on way forward until the second workshop planned for mid-October.

D4A data collection started in 2011 upon a special request from the MoANR to better understand drivers and inhibitors of adoption of crop technologies and fertilizers. Crops and technologies considered, the results, summary of conclusions and implications were presented and how to use the data and conclusions further reached was discussed.

The MonQIt data session presentation and discussion focused on how to relate MonQIt data with D4A or Vis versa.  Many examples were provided on how to ask the right question and use graphs to see if there is correlation, consistency, variations and exceptions and dig further to address key issues. During the group work, the participants exercised on how to use MonQIt to generate results that can inform our strategies and identify actionable outputs and agreed to conduct MonQIT data cleaning and correlation with D4A data in the coming months.

Prof. Eric Smaling, CASCAPE Coordinator from WUR and Dr. Eyasu Elias, CASCAPE Manager in Ethiopia     closed the workshop by appreciating the level of participation, energy and enthusiasm shown by the participants, and the guidance from the facilitator and consultant. They encouraged everyone to use the credibility achieved so far to dig into our data and identify low lying fruits that can be summarized and communicated to the extent where each audience is served appropriately. They noted this is the first in a series of training towards changing data into information to wisdom.

Overall the workshop was a big success in shifting the mindset of CASCAPE staffs from action oriented effort to pragmatic and systematic engagement that showcase CASCAPE interventions, maximize exposure and to contribute to the development and food security of the country.

Aflatoxin’s effect on child stunting, health and trade

Contributed by Selamawit Firdissa, Gender & Nutrition Expert, BENEFIT

The adverse effect of Aflatoxin and its link to a series of acute/chronic health problems to human and animals (including child stunting), was one of the major findings presented at the sixth BENEFIT-ENTAG Spice, Herbs and Aromatic Sector Platform meeting. The platform meeting that was held on 22 March 2018 at Harmony hotel, mainly focused safety and quality issues, identifying existing challenges related to aflatoxin and explore mitigation strategies to minimize its effect on health and trade.

The focus of the meeting was to raise awareness of aflatoxin challenges in spice and herbs, explore ways to mitigate its destructive effect on health and trade, and build international credibility through implementing strong National Food Control System (NFCS) for domestic market.

At the beginning of the meeting, a study conducted by ENTAG that highlights the current challenges/gaps regarding aflatoxins, its impacts on the domestic and international markets, bottlenecks and root causes of the national food control system was presented.

One of the major findings of the study indicates the relation between aflatoxin consumption and stunted growth.  Aflatoxin consumption at early age leads to development delays and increase susceptibility to infectious disease.  Ethiopia being one of those countries where malnutrition is an important public health problem, the issue of aflatoxin and its effect on child stunting needs close attention.

The study findings presented indicated the major commodities susceptible for aflatoxin are pepper, ginger, turmeric, and red kidney beans, and the causes focused on traditional practices: on- farm, adulteration, interim storage, transportation, processing and retail.  According to the finding high risk of aflatoxin contamination exist during harvest and postharvest practices, drying and storage, adulteration practices by aggregators and traders, water (moisture) addition followed by tight packing, spice processing/exporting with limited space etc.

Major challenges highlighted in the study included that there is no explicit aflatoxin intervention known in Ethiopia, no clear food safety strategy, no explicit farm to table food safety assurance approach, Food Control Management does not follow multiple agency approach with shared vision, and lack of coordination among National quality laboratory regulatory, private sector and other stakeholders, multiple agencies with common mandates.

Key recommendations put forward included to mainstream postharvest issues in organizational structures of MoANR and let positions be occupied by postharvest technologists at every hierarchical stage down to the kebele level; for laboratory facilities improvement and development to promote private laboratories for accredited aflatoxin testing service delivery, including mobile laboratories; and establish delineated markets for selected aflatoxin prone products to reduce adulteration and fraudulent behaviors. Furthermore, it’s indicated that a strong coordination among agencies responsible for Food Control Management as well as development and implementation of food policy and implementation strategy focusing on farm to table are needed to revitalize national food control system in the county.

BENEFIT CASCAPE & ISSD collaboration for home garden intervention in Ethiopia

Based on the lessons learnt from initial phase of CASCAPE home garden implementation, access to vegetable seed is one of the key challenges that can undermine the success of home garden intervention.  This issue was raised at the last gender and nutrition training held on February 15-17, 2018. Therefore, this training was organized to facilitate collaboration between BENEFIT-ISSD and BENEFIT-CASCAPE to carry out a seed systems investment in CASCAPE areas where vegetable home gardens are being promoted. ISSD has the potential to support CASCAPE with the methodology and training necessary to identify local sources for vegetable seeds and support in addressing potential constrains for farmers in sourcing those seeds.

The training was organized by BENEFIT-CASCAPE to share experiences and identify areas of collaboration in their respective planning process as well as to identify approaches that should be actively taken in 2018 planning. About 20 participants from national and regional cluster teams, including gender and rural development experts, gender and nutrition focal persons and researchers of ISSD and CASCAPE were part of the training.    The participants discussed about mainstreaming gender and nutrition in agricultural research and extension as well as the linkages of gender and nutrition in agriculture. The training was facilitated by two gender and nutrition advisors from WUR/CDI with the support of gender and nutrition expert from BENEFIT-PCU and gender and nutrition focal person from BENEFIT-CASCAPE national office.

The first day of the training was devoted to learning from ISSD experiences on how to shape gender mainstreaming in agriculture research and translate the lesson into actionable activities for CASCAPE.  The participants also discussed how to use labour saving technologies to promote gender equality and food security, and how to assess the contribution in CASCAPE projects.

The second day focused on nutrition sensitive agriculture. The morning session covered the nutrition situation in Ethiopia, why we pay attention for nutrition, multiple drivers of malnutrition and CASCAPE experience to address malnutrition in its target area through nutrition sensitive agriculture and translate the lessons to actions for ISSD.  In the afternoon the participants learned about the different pathways agriculture influences nutrition and examples of activities that can address issues related to them.  At the end of the day, participants discussed on the linkage of nutrition and gender and how the two concepts influence each other.

On the last day, participants identified potential areas that they can contribute in gender and nutrition in collaboration and in their respective program. Lastly, the participants appreciated CASCAPE’s effort in the BENEFIT collaborative engagement approach in conducting training in crosscutting activities and problem solving discussions.

Collaboration to work towards better impact

“Collaboration to work towards better impact”, this was said during the workshop organized in Mekele from December 5- 6, 2017 by BENEFIT partnership coordination unit in collaboration with CASCAPE Tigray Cluster. The workshop was organized with the purpose to review the progress of 2017 BENEFIT Partnership programs joint plan and for 2018 planning. In the workshop, it was emphasized on the need of collaboration for BENEFIT Partnership programs and it was said that the collaboration helps to complement and supplement each other, among others things knowledge, experience, resources (finance and human), expertise, time, technology, approaches and to work towards bigger impact.

Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager, said on his opening remark that this workshop is conducted annually in order to review the progress of the BENEFIT Programs who jointly work in Tigray and Amhara areas, celebrate the successes, discuss on the challenges, share learning and agree on the way forwards.

Consequently, the Tigray and Amhara BENEFIT joint plan intervention leaders presented the progress reports of Tigray and Amhara regions 2017 joint implementation status respectively and participants gave their appreciation on the progress. In addition, learning points during 2017 implementation were identified in order to inform the 2018 plan. A need for exercising bottom up planning, strengthening the integration of cross cutting issues, such as monitoring, communication, gender and nutrition in joint intervention, assignment of responsible staff and allocation of associated budget were some of points agreed as way forwards.

During the workshop, 30 participants that composed of all BENEFIT Program national and regional managers, regional/cluster coordinators and experts were participated. Currently ISSD, CASCAPE, SBN and ENTAG are working in collaboration in Northern part of Ethiopia under BENEFIT umbrella in order to improve food, income and nutrition security of rural households.

Advisory Board Meeting of BENEFIT Partnership

BENEFIT Partnership organized its first Advisory Board meeting on November 16, 2017 at Azzeman Hotel, Addis Ababa to review the progress made in 2017 by BENEFIT Programs and the tentative work plan for 2018. The meeting was chaired by Mr Abdulsemed, advisory to the State Minister of MoANR and co-chaired by Huub Loffler, Director of Wageningen International.

Following the short presentations of the different programs of BENEFIT Partnership (ISSD, CASCAPE, SBN and ENTAG), DairyBiss which is the BENEFIT hosted program, and the recently designed BENEFIT REALISE program, a general discussion was made. The discussions focused on how to ensure better synergistic effect and on how to align with other initiatives for improved impact.

It was further stressed that in addition to internal collaboration among BENEFIT programs in creating synergy in value chain approach, there is a need for BENEFIT programs to collaborate more with external stakeholders. Moreover, it was suggested to ensure documentation of the improvement achieved in livelihood outcomes of smallholder farmers due to the BENEFIT collaboration instead of individual interventions of the different programs. This is expected to ensure proper tracing of the progress made in ensuring the value for money from the donor perspective.

In conclusion, it was stated that the BENEFIT Partnership programs are expected to further demonstrate innovative evidences of best practices that can be scaled up through different public programs as they have been doing so far.

The advisory board members are composed of high level officials from different government offices : Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Agricultural Growth Program (AGP II), Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Netherland Embassy and Wageningen University and research representatives as member of advisory board , BENEFIT partnership Manager and coordinator as secretary and co-secretary and other BENEFIT programmes coordinators /manager were  observers for the advisory board.

Experience capitalization for greater impact

Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) organized five days experience capitalization workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for Dutch funded food Security projects. The workshop was held at Getfam Hotel from 18-22 September 2017, and about 20 experts participated from different projects.

The purpose of the workshop was to support project staff in documenting their experiences for better learning and communication. The Workshop was facilitated by people from organization called CTA that is known by its approach in experience capitalization. The training was basically focused on the process of how experience is documented and changed into knowledge. It also had practical sections, which helps the participants to exercise what they have learnt in theory.

At the end of the five days stay, participants expressed their satisfaction likewise trainers also said that they were satisfied by the products of the workshop participants and it is going to be posted in www.foodsecurity.NL website.

BENEFIT Partnership collaboration with ATA

Recognizing the importance of collaboration for synergy, BENEFIT Partnership and ATA have been engaged in discussion to identify niche areas of collaboration and to formalize the relationship through MoU. Accordingly, MoU was signed in August, 2017 between the two parties by Ato Dereje Biruk, Senior Director on behalf of CEO, ATA and Dr Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager, representing BENEFIT Partnership. The key contents of the MoU are the following:

Niche areas of collaboration:

  • Inputs and Crop Protection,
  • Soil fertility management,
  • Sesame sector development, and
  • Organization of joint events (seminars and workshops) for information sharing and policy engagement.

Implementation strategy:

  • Organization of regular joint review meetings at ATA and BENEFIT management level and
  • Quarterly action plan development, and
  • Assigning of specific individuals from both BENEFIT and ATA side for each of the identified collaboration areas

The MoU will be effective until Dec 2019 with the possibility of amendment each year based on the joint consent.