Category Archives: BENEFIT news

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

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