Category Archives: CASCAPE news

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

 

 

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