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.
Kelisa 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.