Category Archives: CASCAPE news

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.

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