Category Archives: CASCAPE news

Research-Extension-University Linkage Platform Meeting Showed Promising Results

EIAR-MOA-CASCAPE joint workshop was organized to evaluate the results of large scale joint demonstration of agricultural technologies based on BENEFIT-CASCAPE piloted PAR (Participatory Action Research) approach. The workshop was held on March 12, 2019 at Executive Hotel, Adama. This is part of the research-extension university linkage platform which forms sub-platform of ADPLAC (Agriculture Development Partners Linkage Advisory Council) that was established based on CASCAPE-initiated programme of strengthening Research-Extension-University linkages.

The work towards strengthening collaboration and linkage between extension, research and higher learning institutes started in 2018 with a study commissioned by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in partnership with MOA to better understand the gaps in linkages between the three institutions. The findings of the assessment were shared with relevant stakeholders at “The Hawassa Convention” where EIAR was assigned to lead the effort. In May 2018, BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized a high level workshop at Beshouftu to identify missing links opportunities to ensure effective and efficient technology transfer. Since then, a series of meetings were conducted to turn lesson and opportunities into action, leading to the initiation of “High impact partnership project”. This is BENEFIT-CASCAPE ‘s efforts towards institutionalization of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach and institutional innovation that brings together researchers, extensionists and universities to work together for a better and lasting impact. With endorsement by the Minister of MoA and under direct supervision of the state minister, the Research-Extension-University linkage platform is now officially institutionalized within the MoA. CASCAPE will continue supporting the establishment of the regional platform as sub-set of the ADPLAC.

Since 2018, EIAR has been leading the sub-platform including setting up of large scale demonstrations on strategic commodities (maize, teff, wheat, malt barley, sesame and sorghum) on 100 ha per commodity per region for high level policy engagement and extension dissemination. Researchers in four regions (TARI, ARARI, OARI and SARI) were presenting the results of the 2018 demonstrations during the joint workshop in Adama (12-13 March 2019) and identify gaps, challenges and opportunities to be considered in the 2019 collaborative planning process.

The workshop was attended by over 70 experts and relevant stakeholders including MOA State Minister, EIAR Director General, presidents and deans of universities and BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manager and staff.  The meeting was relevant to appreciate and recognize the first attempt towards large scale full package demonstration to identify factors that affect scaling potential and promote sustained large-scale scaling of technologies that can transform the agriculture sector.

The project aims to design large-scale (atleast 100ha per commodity) geographic focused technology demonstrations to enhance technology dissemination and adoption, promote action research and complementarity, strengthen linkage between the three institutions and document best practice and experiences to promote joint learning. EIAR, RARIs and universities met in their respective regions to develop concept notes and action plans with budget requirements, signed MoUs that spells out the roles and responsibilities of each institution, made strategic selection of technologies, formed necessary teams to implement the selected interventions and conducted joint monitoring and evaluation.

The presentations highlighted the project was beneficial in establishing joint planning and advocacy, cost sharing, building joint capacity development of stakeholders, and conducting joint monitoring and learning. In total 23 technologies were demonstrated in 21 zones in large scale clusters.

The discussion in the afternoon focused on strengthening the approach and modalities, inclusion of horticulture, livestock, mechanization, labor saving technologies in future initiatives, efficient utilization of water resources, capitalizing on universities’ expertise and community service resources, sustainability of the forum, understanding scaling in terms of inputs, addressing acidic soil issues at national level, and forming linkages at regional levels etc.

Following the discussion, it was noted that last year’s planning was done hastily and the focus on crop was intentional considering this is the first year of the project. Other agricultural issues will be considered as linkage strengthens among the institutions. It was also highlighted that the key is not about signing MOUs but changing our way of thinking and working to address the critical issue that only 1/3 of available technologies are being adopted by the farming community. At the end the team agreed to extend their effort to engage more universities, include other regions and evaluate comments and feedbacks raised to refine their 2019 plan focusing on strength of each institution.

Overall the participants acknowledged and appreciated the new practice of using piloted approach to bring systematic change; accomplishments achieved in this first attempt; EIAR for its openness and leadership to take this initiative forward; and BENEFIT-CASCAPE for the critical role the programme played in initiating this effort and its intermediary role in linking research demonstration and extension level demonstration.

At the end, BENEFIT-CASCAPE affirmed its commitment to support this effort in the coming year and universities’ representatives promised to do their part to ensure the success and sustainably of this effort.




The new face of wheat – Unlocking the potential of wheat farmers in Omonada district, Southwestern Ethiopia

Wheat has been an important traditional staple crop in southwestern Ethiopia for generations. But for Chaleleka Donga Kebele (ie Peasant Association) farmers, wheat is starting to have a new meaning. Today, through BENEFIT-CASCAPE (CApacity building and SCAling up of evidence-based best Practices in Ethiopia) programme, farmers are producing sur-plus wheat, signs of new technologies are visible on small plots of land, and above all the programme succeeded in changing the mindsets of farmers beyond subsistence farming into market-oriented farming.

Read here the story of two farmers, Alifya Abasharaf, a 35 year-old mother of five and Rida Abagumbul, a 40 year-old father of seven who improved their livelihoods by transforming their small plots of land into income producing businesses.

Working together towards better soil fertility management for increased crop production

On January 23, 2019, BENEFIT-CASCAPE held a one day seminar on Integrated Soil Fertility Management at Elily Hotel, Addis Ababa. The seminar was attended by 25 experts and representatives from government offices (MoA), research centers (EIAR, RARIs), ATA (Agricultural Transformation Agency), universities,  International Livestock Research Institutes (ILRI), GIZ, IFDC, ISRIC, the Netherlands Embassy, BENEFIT-CASCAPE staff members in Addis Ababa and WUR. The platform was a great opportunity to look at the soil agenda at the higher level, and jointly develop crop, area and soil based validations and recommendations, relevant to the farming community.

Soil being a non-renewable resource in Ethiopia, the participants looked at existing soil information systems, Ethiopia soil fertility strategy, issues related to blended fertilizer and validation experiments happening at different levels and the country’s potential to meet its wheat demand with Integrated Soil Fertility Management approach. The seminar was relevant to share relevant soil fertility initiatives happening at different levels and reach consensus on how to move forward to present the validation findings and recommendations to policy makers.

Following presentations from MoA, ATA, EIAR, N2Africa (ILRI), ISRIC, Mekelle University, and BENEFIT-CASCAPE, the participants agreed to work in collaboration to develop an action plan to develop a succinct and consistent advice that provides good guidance to parliamentarians. It was agreed for EIAR to lead the task force and for the workplan to be developed by March, so that validation results can be applied in the coming growing season.



Gender Mainstreaming and Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) training for agriculture researchers

Gender Mainstreaming (GM) in agricultural research and Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) trainings were provided for two Oromia agricultural research institute centers – Jimma Agricultural Engineering Research Center and Bedelle Soil Research Center. The training was organized following the findings of a skill gap analysis conducted by CASCAPE Jimma University. 26 researchers attended the training at Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine on 17-19 December 2018. The trainings was facilitated by BENEFIT-PCU gender and nutrition expert.

The purposes of the trainings were to build the capacity of researchers in gender mainstream in agricultural research, understand why nutrition matters in agriculture, linkages between nutrition and agriculture, the concepts of NSA and its principles, and how to mainstream NSA in their respective work. The experimental design and impact analysis using the data analysis software such as R and STATA were the gist of the training.

The trainings were supported with power point presentations, Focus group discussion, group exercise, statistical figures, videos, and pictures. The researches appreciated the training, with regards to its relevance in content, knowledge gained from skilled experts, and good facilitation technique used throughout the trainings. At the end they expressed their commitment to internalize the concepts and skills they acquired in their day to day research activities. All training material used during the training and additional reading materials were distributed to the trainees.

Contributed by Selamawit Firdissa (BENEFIT-PCU) & Wondimu Tesfaye (JU-CASCAPE)



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.


Using recommendation mapping for the purpose of scaling CASCAPE best fit innovations in Ethiopia

BENEFIT-CASCAPE is developing a methodological tool that allows users generate maps that show how and where best fit innovations can be scaled in specific areas. The recommendation domain mapping method is a GIS based multi-criteria evaluation tool that builds on the suitability of each innovation taking biophysical aptitude, and socio-economic feasibility aspects into account.

Following the testing of the tool in 2017, a decision was made to capacitate CASCAPE scaling experts in two regional centers of excellence (linked to the universities of Addis Ababa and Mekele). The first of the three trainings planned for 2018,  was held on May 7-11 at Azeeman Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on “Mapping CASCAPE innovation recommendation domains – training session 1”. The training was facilitated by Andrew Farrow (GeAgrofía) and Herman Agricola from WUR. Five biophysical and socio-economists experts from Mekele University and two from Addis Ababa University attended that training.

Topics covered included:

  1. Introduction to recommendation domain mapping
  2. Underlying principles (Fuzzy logic, Script writing, AHP)
  3. Installing open source software
  4. Fundamentals of R within recommendation mapping and practical hands on exercises
  5. Accessibility modelling in QGIS
  6. Definition of activities to be carried out before next training session

The training used a stepwise method that included reviewing existing recommendation maps and the models used to create them; identifying new innovations in the same woreda to take advantage of the data already collected; consideration of existing innovations (with the same rules and membership functions) in a new woredas and maping new innovations in new woredas.

The next training is planned for 11th– 15th 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.

« Older Entries