Category Archives: BENEFIT news

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

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