Category Archives: CASCAPE news

BENEFIT-CASCAPE TOT TRAINING OUTCOME ASSESSMENT: A NATIONAL SYNTHESIS REPORT

BENEFIT-CASCAPE published a synthesis report that shows the findings of an assessments on the outcome of ToTs given by the project (2017-2019) and clusters (2018-2019) to experts and woreda level SMS from four regional states (Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR).

The result of the outcome showed that, the training helped the cluster experts refresh their knowledge and added new skills and knowledge enabling them to train the target extension agents and do their jobs effectively. The training also had real value in bridging the skill and knowledge capacity gaps of the woreda SMS and helped them do their agricultural activities in a more effective ways.

Read the synthesis report here.

 

Fertilizer alert on the impact of COVID-19 on the fertilizer sector in Ethiopia: rapid assessment conducted by BENEFIT-CASCAPE

BENEFIT-CASCAPE published its findings from a rapid assessments conducted on the impact of COVID19 on the fertilizer sector in Ethiopia. The fertilizer alerts identify current challenges and outline urgent action needed in the fertilizer sector based on surveys and focus group discussions. The activity aims to inform decision-makers in government, development practitioners, research, and farmers’ organizations, on where the impact of the crisis is felt the most, and to contribute to the immediate actions required to address the identified challenges. The alerts complement other efforts, for example by IFDC, that provide insights and compare countries in the functioning of the fertilizer market and supply chain. The activity was implemented in partnership between Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and BENEFIT-CASCAPE in Ethiopia.

The survey and focus group discussions (FGDs) that covered a full range of fertilizer sector functions and supply chain operation was conducted by BENEFIT-CASCAPE national staff in the months of June 2020. The findings  highlighted the following

  • Alert 1: Mobility restrictions and fear of infection limit the import and national distribution of fertilizers
  • Alert 2: Mobility restrictions hamper the last-mile delivery of fertilizers to unions and cooperatives
  • Alert 3: Mobility restrictions and social-distancing measures hinder farmers from purchasing fertilizers at unions and cooperatives
  • Alert 4: Mobility restrictions and social-distancing measures affect interactions between extensionists and farmers

For more information

BENEFIT-CASCAPE initiative to better understand and mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the fertilizer sector in Ethiopia

Fertilizers have played a vital role in raising agricultural productivity in Ethiopia for decades. Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Input Directorate 2020 six months report states that the estimated use of fertilizer in 2020 is 1.4 million MT. Realizing the critical role fertilizer plays in the agricultural sector, BENEFIT-CASCAPE recently initiated an activity to raise awareness on the impact of the COVID-19 on the fertilizer sector and provide advise on urgent and practical actions to mitigate risks associated with the virus. The alerts complement other efforts, for example by IFDC, that provide insights and compare countries in the functioning of the fertilizer market and supply chain.

BENEFIT-CASCAPE rapid assessment of the fertilizer sector is conducted through a survey and focus group discussions (FGDs) and covers the full range of fertilizer sector functions and supply chain operations. Its outcomes are used to create ‘Fertilizer Alerts’ to inform decision-makers in government, development practitioners, research, and farmers’ organizations, on where the impact of the crisis is felt the most, and to contribute to the immediate actions required to address the identified challenges. FGDs are planned at regional levels and the expertise and practical experience of those stakeholders in the fertilizer sector determines their participation. WCDI and WEnR, with its national partners in BENEFIT/CASCAPE, will compile a fertilizer alert using the outcomes of the survey and FGDs. In line with emerging lockdown restrictions in the countries in which our partners are based, primary parts of the rapid assessment are digital. The surveys are app-based, and the FGDs take place as much as possible virtually through videoconferencing. The team uses a variety of communication tools, including social media, blogs, video messages, and portals to share each fertilizer alert.

The COVID-19 rapid assessment introductory brief highlights that COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect the fertilizer sector in multiple ways. These include difficulty in quality inspection and certification impacting productivity; shortage of truck drivers and restriction of travel affecting access to synthetic fertilizers; decreasing market outlets discouraging farmers to use fertilizer during the next growing season; lack of access to credit and limited mobilization to distribution centers leading to less fertilizer purchase etc. Even though MoA, stated that the procurement, transportation and distribution of fertilizer is in a relatively good position to face the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown, supply of bags and the risk of COVID-19 infection for the truck drivers and workers at distribution centers, are expected to affect the timely distribution of fertilizer to some extent.

The rapid assessment has adapted a methodology that was already in use by various sectors, including the seed, sesame and horticulture sectors, and which was developed by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI). The methodology and steps followed are presented here.

 

Lessons learned in institutionalization of CASCAPE’s validated best fit practices in the national extension system

BENEFIT-CASCAPE has been engaged in participatory action research activities that involve testing, validation, scaling and capacity development to generate innovations and agricultural best practices for uptake among smallholder farmers. During 2016-2019 implementation period, the project generated 26 best-fit practices that have been scaled out to 65 woredas reaching 863,495 farmers, covering 215,874 ha of land. The 26 best-fit practice manuals for production of major crops were submitted to the Extension Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of which seven are already included in the national best practices extension package.

Using best fit practices composed of improved varieties (high yielding, disease resistant, early maturing) and management practices (soil-crop specific fertilizer recommendation, row planting, disease and pest management), the programme succeeded in doubling the yields of cereals (wheat, maize, teff, barley and sorghum) and vegetables (potato, onion) and pulses (faba bean, soybean). The yield advantage of CASCAPE Pre Extension Demonstration over local practices and national averages ranges from 40.80 to 97.39% and 31.98 to 120%, respectively.

This indicates that overall, all CASCAPE-validated best-fit practices significant yield advantage contribute towards national and regional food self-sufficiency in Ethiopia. For example, wheat is grown by 4.64 million smallholder farmers on a total area of 1.7 million ha in Ethiopia with a national average yield of 2.7 t/ha (CSA, 2018). With average yield of 4.9 t/ha in CASCAPE PED fields, annual production would be 8.33 million tons (4.9 x 1.7 million = 8.33) if all wheat farmers adopt CASCAPE best practices. This volume is approximately equal to the current national consumption level, substituting subsidized wheat grain import costing the country over 56 million USD annually. We therefore argue that implementation of ASCAPE validated wheat-best practices holds the promise of bridging the production gap to achieve national wheat self-sufficiency.

Testing/validation activities were implemented in 10 so called “high intensity woredas” and scaled out to 55 other woredas in agro-ecologically similar settings. In order to facilitate the scaling process, best fit manuals that includes information about agronomy practices (variety, land preparation, planting time, fertilizer rate, etc.), crop protection, harvesting and post-harvest handling were prepared following each pilot.

In addition to its validated BFPs in the National Extension System, CASCAPE has been working to institutionalize its programme’s approach that is based on bottom up planning, is demand driven, encourage a high degree of participation of farmers and other stakeholders, and promote local innovation, capacity development and a value chain approach. More importantly, the best-fit practices validated and disseminated by the BENEFIT-CASCAPE programme have helped to achieve significant higher crops yields across different locations and agro-ecological zones.

Lessons learned

  1. Even though the national and regional research institutes have developed a wide range of agricultural technologies (e.g. improved varieties and management practices), they have not reached the farmers where the technologies are most needed to boost agricultural production. Often, lack of farmer participation and contextualization of the research priorities with the needs, priorities and interests of farmers is presented as the major cause of failure for technology transfer to farmers. In response, BENEFIT-CASCAPE adopted a participatory action research approach involving researchers, extension workers and farmers in diagnosis, planning and searching for solutions to address production problems. This is conceptualized in the project as the “innovation path ways”, involving testing-validation-pilot scaling-pre-extension demonstration and scaling support.
  2. CASCAPE’s strategy of technology development and scaling (development pathways) combined with its participatory approach has played a crucial role in generating different best fit practices. The standard protocol developed by CASCAPE project to evaluate the applicability and scalability of the best fit practices worked well.
  3. The involvement of different stakeholders (e.g. extension and research) in the preparation and review of best fit practice manuals was crucial contributing factor to the uptake of the BFPs.
  4. It is also advisable to undertake joint planning and implementation with relevant stakeholders across the value chain in order to identify demand driven best fit practices.
  5. Institutionalization is a slow and long process that requires time and commitment of all relevant stakeholders at different levels. Timely hand over of best fit practice manuals requires creating a strong linkage with the extension system from the beginning. Thus far only seven best fit practices are incorporated into the national best practice extension package. Delay in delivering the best fit practices manuals to the MoA should be considered.

 

BENEFIT-REALISE handed over a countrywide 50-meter geomorphic map

BENEFIT-REALISE programme handed over a nationwide 50-meter geomorphic map to stakeholders, including Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), at the workshop held on 9 March 2020. The base map is a tool applicable for soil/land resource mapping, agro-ecological zonation and other biophysical mapping missions. The workshop was attended by 25 participants from various relevant institutions: MoA, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN), Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia Construction Design and Supervision works (ECDSWC), Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Alliance Biodiversity-CIAT, GIZ, Ethiopian Geospatial Information institute (EGII), International Soil Reference and Information Center (ISRIC), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), and BENEFIT Partnership (CASCAPE and REALISE).

The workshop was opened by H.E. Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister of MoA, National Resources and Food Security sector. He noted that the biophysical survey and mapping missions require a huge resource and highlighted the relevance of establishing a mechanism to avoid duplication of efforts, ensure coordination and harmonize approaches to efficiently utilize the available limited resources. He also said that generating soil information is one of the major components in the country’s 10 years agriculture strategy and discussions are already underway with development actors and donors to mobilize resource and develop applicable, site and context specific soil maps. He also stated that the Ministry is ready to utilize the countrywide base map developed by BENEFIT-REALISE with technical support from ISRIC. BENEFIT-REALISE programme, involving experts from MoA, is currently conducting surveys to develop 1:50,000 soil/landscape map of 18 woredas using the base map. MoA plans to use this experience to further develop a semi-detailed (1:50,000) soil/landscape maps of 480 woredas in the coming 10 years.

Johan Leenaars from ISRIC presented technical aspects of the map including an overview of geo data, model specifications, 3-D prediction, base map, and geomorphology and soils at different scales. That was followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Eyasu Elias, BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manager. During the discussion, the stakeholders appreciated the effort made to develop the countrywide 50-meter geomorphic map, and raised issues related to availability of the base map to stakeholders, precision (ground truth) of the base map, costliness related to the preparation of semi-detailed soil/landscape map, and the importance of overlaying soil/landscape map being prepared by BENEFIT-REALISE with soil fertility map of ATA. Soil Information and Mapping Directorate of MoA expressed its interest to use the base map for developing semi-detailed soil maps in many other woredas. However, support from development partners in building capacity of the MoA in the area is highly needed.

At the end of the workshop Remko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator from WUR, gave special thanks to all who contributed to this exercise and handed over the countrywide 50-meter geomorphic map on USB to the invited organizations.

If you are interested to access the map, please contact Soil Information and Mapping Directorate at MoA or BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager Dr. Tewodros Tefera at amede.tewodros@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

2nd Round of Innovation Recommendation Mapping (IRM) Training Conducted (BENEFIT-CASCAPE)

BENEFIT-CASCAPE conducted a six day training (Dec 30, 2019 – Jan 5, 2020) to develop the skills of government institutions staff members (Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) Ethiopia Soil and Resource Institute (ESRI) and MoA Extension Directorate and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR))  responsible for implementing IRM in the country. The 2nd round training focused on basics of GIS, R, land evaluation; concept to data, input data source, data quality and fitness for use, bio physical input data preparation (land use requirement, soil, climate, topography), accessibility map input data preparation (market location, roads, FTC) and AHP & Ethno suitability mapping.

As per the findings of the skill assessment, the trainers applied learning by doing methodology to effectively bridge the skills and knowledge gaps. There were series of individual, pair and small group practical exercises and assignments. One of the group exercise entailed discussing factors affecting adoption of CASCAPE’s Best Fit Innovations (BFIs) ranked from highest to lowest. The group also identified those factors that can be mapped and those factors that can be mapped and have data. The three major factors identified for wheat related to attitude (culture, religion), farmer type and access to extension service, while the top three factors affecting adoption for faba bean were educational level, market value and cultivable land size.

Both formative (continuously monitoring progress in learning) and summative evaluation (at the end of the training) were conducted to collect feedbacks for improvement of future efforts. Total result of the quantitative assessment in terms of relevance, achieving objectives, participation, organization, exercises etc. was 69.6 out of 70.

At the end of the training, the participants affirmed their commitment to apply the knowledge and the practical skills they have learned. The training was organized by CASCAPE’s National Programme Management Unit NPMU (Desalegn Haileyesus – Senior Expert, Capacity Building) and was given by Dr. Amanuel Zenebe and Dr. Atkilt Girma (Mekelle University – Mapping members).

BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized scaling agricultural innovations write-shop

On October 14-17, 2019, BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized a write-shop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to build a common understanding of up-to-date scaling approaches and develop a roadmap to review, process and analyze data collected by each cluster to produce cluster level and national level synthesis publication. The write-shop was relevant to share state of the art academic thinking on scaling of agricultural innovations; share CASCAPE’s scaling process undertaken by respective clusters, train, give guidance and support on methodological data analysis.

This is part of BENEFIT-CASCAPE 2019 effort that focuses on embedding CASCAPE best fit innovation and approaches into the country’s agricultural extension system. Accordingly, one of the programme’s efforts give attention to support the extension directorate’s scaling activities through capacity development and sharing evidences generated in the programme’s scaling activities.

With the objective of understanding and highlighting the enabling and hindering factors for successful scaling of the Best Fit Practices (BFPs), the programme developed a framework to monitor and evaluate the impact of scaling in 2018. That was followed by systematic collection and coding of quantitative and qualitative data on scaling efforts of various commodities.

The output synthesis will be shared with policy makers and as scientific publication for the scientific community.

 

 

Publication on soil properties and fertilizer rates in the highlands of Ethiopia

Please read here the recently published paper titled “Explaining bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) yield differences by soil properties and fertilizer rates in the highlands of Ethiopia”; authored by Eyasu Eliasab  P.F. Okothc   E.M.A. Smalingd

a College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Centre for Environmental Science Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

b Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Partnership for Food Income and Trade (BENEFIT), Ethiopia

c New Scape Agrosystems Ltd., PO Box 27303, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya

d Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Environmental Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands

Highlights –

  • Fertilizer applications can double wheat yields when applications are site specific.
  • Soil properties that drive the crop yields are OC, pH, TN and Fe and Mn on the negative side.
  • Blend fertilizers have no significant effect on yield over NPS and DAP.
  • The absence of K in the fertilizer mix could have affected yields negatively.

Innovation Recommendation Mapping (IRM) training (CASCAPE & REALISE)

For the last few weeks BENEFIT-CASCAPE has been engaged in assessing the skills and knowledge of government experts at Federal level and BENEFIT sister project staff (SBN) on Innovation Recommendation Mapping (IRM). The overall aim is to institutionalize BENEFIT-CASCAPE methodological tool on IRM  to allow users generate suitability maps that provides scientific advise on where and how best fit innovations can be scaled in specific areas. Following an agreement with key government stakeholders on the matter, the first of three training was held from October 21-25 2019 in Bishoftu town in collaboration with BENEFIT-REALISE.

The training that was organized to bridge the knowledge and skill gap of the institutions responsible for implementing IRM, was based on the responses to questionnaire that was analysed and summarized at BENEFIT-CASCAPE National Programme Management Unit (NPMU). The assessment looked at knowledge and skills on basic GIS (data preparation, clipping, map projection, raster manipulation); spatial data capture (GPS, Digitizing, 3rd party downloads, Workshop facilitation); basic programming skill and basic use of R (R studio interface, R markdown, raster package, sp package, sf package, shiny package, leaflet package and ggplot2 package); and knowledge and experience of land evaluation.

The 1st of the three training was attended by eight participants from Ethiopia Institute for Agriculture Research (EIAR), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) (Ethiopia Soil Resource and Information, Extension Directorate and Soil fertility), and BENEFIT-SBN staff.  It focused on introduction to IRM, modeling agricultural innovation recommendation domains, understand rule bases in IRM and practical sessions in R, Fuzzy modelling of IRM.

BENEFIT-CASCAPE high level field visit and stakeholder workshop with MoA officials

On October 22-23, 2019, BENEFIT-CASCAPE national coordination unit in collaboration with the extension directorate of the MoA, Addis Ababa University CASCAPE cluster and Siyadebirna Wayu Woreda Office of Agriculture of the North Shewa Zone, Amhara Region organized a high-level field visit to showcase the successes achieved with wheat cluster farming as a scaling approach. The first day was devoted to visit BENEFIT-CASCAPE supported AGP (Agricultural Growth Programme) seed multiplication scaling activity of improved bread wheat varieties and BENEFIT-CASCAPE scaling activity to boost wheat production through cluster farming. That was followed by a one day high level stakeholder workshop to discuss the results of the drivers of technology adoption in the agriculture sector. In addition, the meeting was meant to hand over the 26 Best Fit Practice (BFP) manuals to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) State Mister and the Extension Directorate. The BFPs manuals were validated by BENEFIT-CASCAPE for their productivity, profitability, environmental sustainability and farmer preferences. The field visit was attended by over 200 participants including dignitaries from the Federal MoA (State Minister Advisor, extension director, mechanization director, AGP head), zonal and woreda administration officials, zonal and woreda agriculture offices officials, research institutes representatives, farmers, BENEFIT staff (Addis Ababa and Wageningen University & Research (WUR)) and the media.

For the field day, on October 22, the delegation first traveled to Romae kebele where 160 farmers (138 men and 22 women) were engaged in seed multiplication of improved bread wheat variety (Dand’a) on 186ha clustered farm land. The visit started with a brief remark by Berhau Taye, North Shewa Zonal Administrator who welcomed everyone and acknowledged the contribution of the programme in introducing new improved bread wheat varieties and good agricultural practices that is transforming wheat production in the area.

AndualemHis remark was followed by a briefing from Ato Andualem Yeshew, an Agronomic Expert of the woreda who said “The successes we see here is a result of the combined efforts of improved varieties and good agricultural practice through efficient clustering approach. The variety was first introduced by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in 2018 through successful validation, demonstration and pre-scaling activities at neighboring Kebele. Following the good results achieved in 2018, the woreda and BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized field days where farmers saw that the variety was high-yielding and resistant to disease and pest. This year, we partnered with BENEFIT-CASCAPE to implement AGP seed multiplication scaling activities to address quality bread wheat seed shortage in the area.” As per the agreement between BENEFIT-CASCAPE and AGP, the programme provided improved seed, training and technical support (20%), while AGP covered all other necessary costs.

The benefit of cluster farming, that started by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in 2017 is clearly visible on the ground. It enabled farmers to access improved seed, fertilizer and row planting practices with support from the extension agents.  Instead of fragmented farm land covered with conventional farming, you see hundreds of hectares of wheat farms, covered with modern cropping practice. Farmers are expecting 64-67 quintals, much higher than the average yield of 38 quintals registered across the country. Andualem said, “Working in clusters encourages farmers to use the full package and good agronomic practices. It eases the introduction and dissemination of technologies where farmers share resources and benefit from collective marketing of produce (selling in bulk).”

At the beginning of the second visit, BENEFIT-CASCAPE AAU cluster team gave poster presentations on the programme approach and key 2019 activities. The delegation then visited the success achieved in scaling improved bread wheat (Hedase) on 150ha farm land in Ejersa Kebele.

Demesa Muluneh.jpgDuring the field visit, the group heard testimonies from the cluster administrators and members. Demesa Muluneh who is serving as the Cluster Coordinator in Romie kebele, said “Working together has many advantages such as being able to support and learn from each other. It is also relevant to ensure all farmers apply the recommended input and follow the right practice which ensures getting good quality seed.”

When asked about challenges they faced, Demesa added, “Getting fertilizer on time was a challenge. And due to the large area, there is demand for tractor to plow and combine harvester to harvest in the area; we were not able to secure a tractor to use during the dry season.” Another challenge raised was related to marketing. Even though the cluster is working with the woreda union to sell their seed, they are not sure if they will get the best price for our produce.

Other issues discussed included the shortcomings in using blanket fertilizer recommendation, the need to deal with problems of monocropping as a result of cluster farming and increase efficiency and availability of other crops and legumes seeds for crop rotation.

At the end of the visit, the delegation held a discussion to reflect on what they have seen and raise questions and issues to focus on in the coming year. In his remark Ato Abera Mulatu, Advisor to the State Minister (MoA) said he is happy with what he has seen and noted that this is a unique opportunity and approach that should expand to other surrounding areas. Dr. Yania Seid, Director for Community Services of AAU, stated that she is proud to see the level of work done in collaboration with the programme and the university’s continued commitment to provide service through its community engagement programme. Dr. Eyasu Elias, BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manger thanked all who attended the visit and for their contribution towards making Ethiopia wheat self-sufficient in the near future. Prof. Eric Smailing, BENEFIT-CASCAPE Coordinator highlighted that farmers are owners of this project and central to the success achieved so far. Dr. Abate Mekuriyaw, BENEFIT-CASCPE AAU Cluster Manager appreciated the continuous support and trust of the government offices and the farmers that resulted in creating fields that are starting to be known as “Ocean of wheat”. Mesert Haile, MoA Zonal Head closed the discussion by thanking the organizers and highlighting the relevance of working on the entire value chain components to bring sustainable change.

On October 23, 2019 BENEFIT-CASCAPE held a one day stakeholder workshop to present (handover) Drivers for Adoption study results and 26 Best Fit Practice (BFP) manuals to the MoA State Minister and the MoA Agricultural Extension Directorate. Participants were drawn from the extension directorate of MoA, AGP, zonal department of agriculture in north-Shewa zone, representatives of bureaus of agriculture and regional research institutes such as SARI (southern agricultural research institute), and BENEFIT staff (Addis Ababa and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the media.  The workshop was also a great opportunity to discuss the major findings of Driver For Adoption study, Best Fit Manual preparation and development process, mechanization, incentivizing agriculture, next phase of BENEFIT, and way forward towards resolving issues raised during the visit and institutionalizing the Programme achievements.

Both the field visit and the stakeholder workshop received high media coverage nationwide. News of the events and interviews with farmers, government officials and BENEFIT-CASCAPE management was broadcasted on ETV, WALTA TV, and Ethiopian News Agency radio and television programmes.

Towards institutionalizing BENEFIT-CASCAPE Best Fit Practices in the Ethiopian agriculture system

From July 16-19, 2019 BENEFIT-CASCAPE held Best Fit Practices (BFPs) manual review and evaluation workshop at Bin Hotel, Bishoftu.  The workshop was attended by 29 participants from Ministry of Agriculture (representing agricultural extension, crop production, horticultural development, animal feed, mechanization and soil fertility directorates), Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR) and CASCAPE staff.

Prior to the workshop, twenty six BFP manuals prepared by five universities clusters were edited, revised.  This workshop was relevant to review/evaluate/revise these manuals with relevant stakeholders before its dissemination to end users towards institutionalization of the manuals in the agricultural system.  The workshop was successful in collecting comments and suggestions to enrich the manual; create awareness of the manuals to experts (extension and research system) and identify practices to be included in the extension package (e.g. fertilizer rate, spacing).  Different future research and development thematic areas were also identified (e.g. the effect of lime and Rhizobium on next year crop yield using fixed plot approach).

Over all, the participants acknowledged and appreciated the effort and agreed to use them in the extension system.  At the end, with the leadership of CASCAPE and the extension directorate, a team was formed to follow up on comments and handover the manuals to high-level officials of MoA at the end of September, 2019.

Contribution of BENEFIT-CASCAPE’s Wheat Best Fit Practice to National Wheat Self-Sufficiency

In spite of their significant contribution to boost production and productivity of farmers, most of the agricultural technologies developed by the research system have not adequately reached its beneficiaries. It is estimated that only about 31 percent of smallholder farmers are using full package of improved practices. Some of the main reasons for low uptake of improved technologies are related to lack of farmer participation in the technology development process, and poor technology promotion approaches. Recognizing this, BENEFIT-CASCAPE uses innovation pathways to test, validate and scale best fit practices (BFPs).

In the case of wheat, BENEFIT-CASCAPE BFP has been assessed across Amhara, Oromia, South and Tigray regions. The pre-extension demonstration (PED) result shows that the average yield of wheat using BFP technologies is 4.9qt/ha while the local practices is 2.6qt/ha and the nation average being 2.7qt/ha. The yield advantage of BENEFIT-CASCAPE PED over local practices and national average is 88.46 and 75.00 %, respectively.

Considering that Ethiopia has 4.64 million smallholder farmers growing wheat on a total area of 1.7million ha of land, with an average production level of 2.7qt/ha, the national production volume is approximately 4.6million tons. This falls short of the domestic demand and thereby requiring for the government to import wheat to fill the existing gap. In 2018, Ethiopia imported 3.7 million tons to meet the total national consumption level of 8.3 million tons.

Based on the results of BENEFIT-CASCAPE PED, Ethiopia can indeed produce the 8.2 million tons of wheat needed for national consumption (4.9qt/ha ∗ 1.7 million ha=8.33), Hence, the overall adoption of best fit practice of wheat in the wheat-growing area of Ethiopia would bridge the gap to national wheat self-sufficiency.

Contributed by Akalu Teshome, PhD – BENEFIT-CASCAPE Socio-Economic Expert 

 

 

BENEFIT’s contribution to gender responsive agricultural mechanization

A National Gender in Agricultural Mechanization Workshop was organized by the Ethiopian Network for Gender Equality in Agriculture (ENGEA) on 6 – 7 June 2019 at the Radison Blue Hotel in Addis Ababa. The ENGEA is led by the Ministry of Agriculture Women, Children and Youth Affairs Directorate. The workshop brought together professionals from the government, knowledge institutions, practitioners (civil society and private sector actors), UN agencies, and the media to discuss the national agricultural mechanization strategy and implementation, and share evidence-based research and practices, successes and challenges related to mainstreaming gender in agricultural mechanization.

The workshop was a follow up to the third agricultural mechanization forum where key stakeholders agreed to conduct policy gap analysis and identify evidence-based technology findings to inform the agricultural mechanization policy. This workshop was organized towards developing gender responsive national agricultural mechanization policy and discuss enforcement issues in the existing strategy.

As a member of ENGEA, BENEFIT presented two evidence based improved enset processing technologies (enset scraper and enset fermentation). The two technologies were tested and implemented by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in southern and south western part of Ethiopia. The technologies were especially appreciated since enset is drought tolerant crop that play key role in food security and the technologies potential to reduce women’s work burden. Participants agreed continuous research on enset processing technologies is crucial to address specific issues related to accessibility, affordability and maintenance. The relevance of engaging Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) extension department and mechanization department throughout the testing process to ensure sustainability and scaling was highlighted.

By Selamawit Firdissa, Gender & Nutrition Expert, BENEFIT PCU

 

 

Wageningen project in Ethiopia receives prize for agriculture and food

The Wageningen project ‘Innovation Mapping for Food Security’ (IM4FS) has won the Olam Prize from the French Agropolis Fondation.

The project does not only look at which crops can grow best in a given area, but also at the involved climate risks, markets and farmers’ loans. Using research data and IT, the project develops best-fit combinations of crops, soils and matching technology for farmers in marginal areas of Ethiopia. This project builds upon the Wageningen project BENEFIT-CASCAPE, which developed best fits for farmers in the fertile Rift Valley in Ethiopia. [Read more]

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]

FROM SUBSISTENCE TO COMMERCIALLY ORIENTED AGRICULTURE – Papaya production in Southern Zone of Tigray

One of BENEFIT-CASCAPE (CApacity building and SCAling up of evidence-based best Practices in Ethiopia) intervention, “Improved Papaya Production”, is changing the farm lands of Raya Azebo into income producing assets. Through innovative evidence based approach, effective partnership and continuous support, the drought prone area with unreliable rainfall has changed into pockets of oasis covered with fruits and vegetables. Today, many farmers have moved away from traditional food staples farming to becoming cash crop producers. They have regular source of income, diversified their crops improving their household food security, improved their nutritional status and managed to increase their productive assets. The following is a testimony of one family who succeeded in completely changing their lives through selection of the right commodity, improved variety, technology and management.  [Read the story here]

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.

Blended fertilizer recommendation issues

Contributed by Mulugeta Diro(PhD)

BENEFIT- CASCAPE together with Soil Fertility Director of MoANR organized soil fertility platform meeting. The platform meeting was conducted on October 17, 2017 at Executive hotel, Adama. After involved in sites and crop specific blended fertilizer recommendation , BENEFIT-CASCAPE commissioned  a study to understand issues and constraints related to blend fertilizer recommendation and this meeting was organized to share and discusses the findings of the study to stakeholders.

Results of the study on issues and constraints related to blend fertilizer recommendation was presented to plenary by BENEFIT-CASCAPE and several questions and comments were raised and discussed. During the discussion time the main issued discussed and emphasesed was about the ‘critical value’ approach currently being adopted  which was found mainly misleading after soil test result in some areas. Large areas of the Ethiopian highlands are  labelled deficient of some major nutrients such as potassium and Boron, which is not consistent with soil test results conductd by BENEFIT-CASCAPE programme. In addition, blend fertilizer recommendations are still blanket and needs to be refined. Validation of critical levels is needed specific to crop type based on crop response trials and plant tissue analysis.

During the meeting it was agreed that have further discussion among relevant stakeholders on issues and constraints related to blend fertilizer recommendation. As a result, Soil Fertility Directorate of MoANR agreed to establish a taskforce to have such discussion.

Over 70 participants drawn from agricultural research institutes (EIAR & RARIs), MoANR, CGIAR, NGOs and private consultants participated in the platform meeting.