Category Archives: REALISE

BENEFIT-REALISE: National Conference on Institutionalization

BENEFIT-REALISE programme held a one-day national conference to share its achievements over the last three years and discuss on key institutionalization issues before the closing of the programme in June 2021. The conference followed three regional institutionalization workshops organized in Amhara, Oromia and SNNP to ensure sustained continuity of the programme approaches and results. Over 35 participants representing government organizations, universities, research institutions, NGOs, the World Bank and programme staff attended the conference held on March 26 at Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Participants from WCDI, WENR, ISRIC, the World Bank and Mekelle University joined the meeting virtually.

The conference was a great opportunity to acknowledge and thank the programme partners who played a key role in the overall achievements of the programme, and identify major institutional issues that need attention to ensure the effective and timely integration of the programme Best Fit Practices (BFPs) and approaches into existing practices. The participants listened to presentations from key stakeholders that included Dr. Mandefro Nigusse, CEO of Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and former State Minister at the MoA; Yenenesh Egu, Director of Extension Directorate, MoA; Mr. Ephrem Mesfin from MoA, Dr. Ermias Abate, DDG, Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) and Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager.

The presentations (listed below) and discussions focused on success factors that made BENEFIT-REALISE achieve impactful, positive sustainable changes and key innovative approaches and practices that should be embedded within the existing systems. The unique components of the programme that was appreciated by the participants included (i) the design process that was based on lessons from relevant programmes, baseline data and scoping studies; (ii) context specific clear targets and innovation pathways; (iii) the programme’s unique institutional arrangement; (iv) the strong partnership & coordination; (v) its leadership, regular communications; (vi) inclusion of cross cutting issues (climate, nutrition, youth, and women); and (vii) its focus on institutionalization process.  

At the end of the conference, the MoA Extension Directorate affirmed its commitment to lead the mainstreaming of customized extension package on ‘one timad’ package and follow up on inclusion of BFPs within the national extension packages. In the remaining time, the programme will continue facilitating the institutionalization process with relevant stakeholders and high-level officials. During regional institutionalization workshop universities, Bureau of agriculture and regional Agricultural Research Institutes have shown their commitment to embed some of the BFPs and approaches in their routine mandates.  

For further information

BENEFIT-REALISE National Conference Report

Contributions of Bilateral Programmes to National Development Agendas: the case of REALISE programme – Dr. Mandefro Nigussie

BENEFIT-REALISE Programme approaches, key achievements, institutionalization process and lesson learnt – Dr. Tewodros Tefera

Institutional innovation in the making for ‘one timad’ package: The MoA joint experience with REALISE programme – Mrs. Yenenesh Egu

Towards Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood in PSNP areas: snapshots of innovations from BENEFIT-REALISE, Dr. Ermias Abate, DDG, Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI)

Institutionalization of innovative approaches in the making: The case of IRM and soil mapping joint activities with REALISE programme – Ephram Mesfin from MoA

BENEFIT-REALISE gave a briefing on ‘One Timad’ package for the Ministry of Agriculture Extension Directorate

On March 18, 2021, BENEFIT-REALISE programme gave a briefing on ‘One Timad’ package, to build a better understanding of the package among MoA Extension Directorate staff members and discuss way forward towards institutionalizing the approach in the existing extension system. The briefing was attended by over 20 participants from MoA and the programme staff.

The ‘One Timad Package’ (OTP) was introduced by the BENEFIT-REALISE programme in 2019 and piloted by its eight implementing partners, (eight university clusters) in 23 woredas on 7 crops. The phrase ‘one timad’ refers to 1/4th of a hectare and the OTP package consists of the recommended amount of seed for the plot size with half of the recommended chemical fertilizer dose and half organic fertilizer prepared at home (composts or farm yard manure). The main objectives of the OTP were to (1) downscale the package size of fertilizer (half organic fertilizer) to match the need and capacity of PSNP households; (2) provide PSNP farmers access to improved practices by avoiding the capacity limitation imposed by large technology packages; (3) minimize farmers’ risk in taking up new technologies by introducing proven technologies at the right (small) scale, with adequate hands-on training and follow-up; and (4) demonstrate the need to customize extension packages that match the capacity and needs of PSNP farmers with small landholdings. Using compost also contributes to the carbon content of the soil and thus the water holding capacity of the soil. This in turn acts as a climate change mitigation measure.

The meeting was opened by Yenenesh Egu, Director of Agricultural Extension in MoA, who highlighted the relevant of this meeting to ensure our extension service reach smallholder farmers who find the current standardize package for 1ha, costly and unaffordable. She noted, she has been involved in the implementation process from the beginning and is eager to start expanding the practice and embed it into the extension system to reach many poor farmers with less than 1ha farm land. Discussions are underway and manuals are being developed to facilitate the process and this briefing is relevant to inform our staff and build a better understanding of the package. 

Dr.  Mulugeta Doro, Deputy Director of BENEFIT-REALISE presented the overall objectives of the programme and the different component of ‘One Timad’ package, achievements, challenges and lessons learned. The programme has been working in 23 PSNP woredas on crops relevant to food security and nutrition. Four ‘One Timad’ package manuals that outlines the agrocology requirements, production and harvest practices are being developed. The packages for bread wheat, sweet potato and faba bean were presented in detail.

The programme experience showed that PSNP farmers have a means to ensure food self-efficiency with just one Timad of land. A table that shows how much land a family of five needs to meet their daily need of 2100calories in a year, per crop was shared. The table also showed land sizes required to grow different crops for market to buy a year supply of maize to fulfill the daily calories of five family members.

Discussion highlights

Added value of the ‘One Timad’ package: There was a lengthy discussion on the added value of ‘One Timad’ extension package. There was an agreement, the package (i) will allow the extension address the specific challenges of a big segment of the farming population – 2.5 million PSNP households (8 million beneficiaries), smallholder farmers who own fragmented, degraded (less than 1ha) farmland and live in moisture stressed areas not suitable for commercialization; (ii) encourage smallholder farmers who shy away from adopting new technologies due to unaffordability; (iii) provide basket of options to accommodate specialization and diversification, even among farmers with big land; (iii) encourage expansion of pulse and oil crop seed and other high value crops; (iv) contribute to assurance of seed and fertilizer quality by minimizing re-distribution and re-selling from big packs; and (v) has social benefit, utilization of family labor

Approach and communication: Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager noted, one of the key success factors of this approach is the institutional setup where research, extension and universities worked together starting from planning throughout the implementation process. The OTP ensure inclusiveness and addresses marginalized farmers such as economically weak farmers, landless farmers who practice share cropping and contract farming and women farmers who have limited means to participate in the conventional extension package. He stated that REALISE programme demonstrate OTP in FTCs, provided practical trainings, intensive follow up, organized field days, and distributed mini leaflets to communicate the OTP extension message etc.

Yenenesh added considering that the extension directorate only accepts packages approved by the research institutes this was a critical element. She appreciated the smooth working relation among the three institutions and added the need to think how to cascade the learning to the ground level.      

Development of manual and extension packages: BENEFIT-REALISE has prepared four ‘One Timad’ packages so far (sweet potato, faba beans, bread wheat, Irish potato and sorghum). Looking at the outline of the documents, it was decided the documents are more of ‘best practice manuals’, and would be valuable inputs in the development of the national extension packages. Customized packages (regional and other) should follow the national standardized national package.

Other questions and discussion focused on the need to reconcile the difference in seed and fertilizer recommendations between national and regional packages, revisiting use of vermicomposting, considering its time consuming and intensive process, the impact of ‘one timad’ package on soil fertility etc.

Institutionalization and way forward: Dr. Tewodros highlighted the need to ensure the approach gets a buy-in from key stakeholders. He noted this is the third meeting held to popularize the approach and suggested the following next steps to facilitate the institutionalization process.

  1. Convene high level key stakeholders meeting to share the achievements of ‘One Timad’ package and agree on responsible bodies to regulate the institutionalization process. The invitation should include state ministers, cooperative offices, job creation, input providers, chemical and agro dealers etc.
  2. Following the finalization of the manuals on ‘one Timad’ and other best practices, the programme will submit them to the extension directorate with a formal letter. The programme staff is available to support the team assigned to develop the extension package and standardize the approach.

Yenenesh closed the meeting by recognizing that it is time to expand our extension service and work on customizing and providing different packages that meet the specific needs of smallholder farmers. She committed to organize the high level meeting and keep the interaction going towards institutionalization.

Ministry of Finance and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ethiopia visited BENEFIT-REALISE programme interventions in Eastern Amhara Region

A delegation of 23 from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Ethiopia and North Wollo zonal and woreda offices visited BENEFIT-REALISE programme intervention sites in Eastern Amhara Regional State of Ethiopia on March 11 and 12, 2021. The delegation included Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Ambassador of EKN in Ethiopia; Kokeb Misrak, Bilateral Director, MoF; Simachew Zelalem, European Countries Cooperation Team Leader, MoF; Aytenew Tatek, Water Policy Officer, EKN; Dr. Abebe Girma President of Woldia University and Dr. Solomon Abegaz, Vice President of Research and Community Service of Woldia University. 

The field visit, was intended to showcase the programme’s achievements in

  1. Introducing and demonstrating new crops and improved varieties with good agricultural practices to improved productivity of PSNP farmers who live in moisture stress areas;
  2. Promoting dietary diversity and Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA); including demonstration of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) to address deficiency of Vitamin-A; validation and demonstration of bio-fortified haricot bean varieties to address Fe and Zn deficiency; and home gardening activities to promote vegetable and fruit consumption to address micro nutrient deficiencies and generate income;  
  3. Piloting business model activities (small scale poultry production and small ruminant fattening business) to build resilience of households and promote job creation; and
  4. Strengthening seed business groups and facilitating linkage with the government institutes (research and extension) and other NGOs and projects to ensure availability of improved and quality seed.

The 1st day visit was at Habru woreda, where the programme efforts focused on introduction and demonstration of new improved papaya variety (Maradol), and home gardening practices. The programme provided papaya seedlings, vegetables seed and technical support that resulted in improved dietary diversity of households and generation of additional income from the sale of the surplus produce.

On the 2nd day they visited pilot business model activities (small scale poultry production and small ruminant fattening) that contributed to youth job creation and women resilience building. The pilot business models involved stakeholders’ identification and networking, capacity building on poultry production and small ruminant fattening techniques; provision of innovation grant for pullet and goats for fattening through credit (RUSSACOs); capacity building on business management, marketing, and provision of technical support in the form of coaching and follow up. The programme proved that both poultry production and fattening are ideal businesses that require minimal investment for creating a steady job for unemployed youth and women. Within a year, the youth and the women who participated in the interventions were able to generate an average of net 3514 and 2830 Birr per month from sale of egg and the fattened sheep respectively. The youth and women are now meeting their essential daily needs and can be considered as candidates for graduation from PSNP.

The delegation also visited Ediget Lehizb Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC), one of the SPC supported by the programme since 2019. The activities included capacity building on techniques of seed production and marketing; technical support in the form of coaching and follow-up; provision of early generation tuber seed of potato and innovation grant for Diffuse Light Store (DLS) construction and Multi-crop Thresher (MCT). The programme also facilitated the process of acquiring a license/ certificate Of Competence (COC) for potato tuber seed production from quarantine authority. Currently, the cooperative is offering a seed credit and threshing service with reasonable price to its members and the surrounding farmers.

During the visit the team had an opportunity to talk with beneficiary farmers, development agents, SPC management and members and government extension staff from the woreda office of agriculture. Among others, they heard how farmers are excited about new crop varieties that are allowing them to close the food gap months, address their household nutrition deficiency, and increase their income. The youth and women were appreciative of the lessons and support that encouraged them to have business oriented thinking that is allowing them to earn money to meet their daily needs. All of the visited households confirmed for the visitors, they are ready for graduation from PSNP.  The SPC members repeatedly thanked the programme for the construction of DLS and the provision of MCT, a labor saving technology that is highly contributing to their efficiency in threshing triticale crops. According to the SPC members, traditionally it took a minimum of four days to thresh a hip of triticale, but with the MCT it took less than an hour.

At the end, there was a short reflection session where participants appreciated the field visit that allowed them to better understand how BENEFIT-REALISE programme works at grassroots level and the good design of the interventions that can be used as benchmark for wider scaling. They appreciated the programme design that works on identifying best practices through the process of validation and demonstration based on the performance of crop varieties and farmers’ preference. The good alignment of the interventions with other initiatives, especially the partnering and linkage with other local stakeholders like research, cooperatives/RUSSACO, agro-dealers, is expected to ensure sustainability of the programme impacts.

At the end, Dr. Solomon Abegaz, Vice President of Research and Community Service, Woldia University said, although REALISE showed remarkable results and the interventions are well aligned and linked with relevant local institutes, the fact that the project period is too short (only three years) will create challenges in the scaling up and institutionalization, and more thinking is needed on how to take it to the next level.  

By Baye Berihun Getahun (PhD), BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University Cluster Manager

Building resilience and empowering women through goat fattening business

With an objective of enhancing the resilience of PSNP households and empower women, BENEFIT-REALISE Haramaya University cluster piloting a goat fattening business using revolving loan scheme in East Haregre.  The pilot was implemented in collaboration with woreda BOANR, Cooperative Promotion Office and Rural Saving & Credit Cooperatives of the respective kebelles.  

Ashu Mohammed yesuf, is a 40 year-old mother of five, two of them already married. As one of the beneficiaries selected for goat fattening intervention in Ido Balina. she received five goats, 50 kg concentrated feed, 20 litters molasses and 20 litters Effective Microorganism in July 2020. She was also trained in goat fattening and feeding management. In March 2021, she had four well fattened goats. She said, “Before I owned these goats, I had nothing and I relied on PSNP support. Now, I feel wealthy, I am wealthy. I am building my household asset I can depend on. Since I received the goats I sold only one to cover the cost of my son’s wedding. And the four I have now, I can sell them for 10,000 – 12,000birr, I am just waiting until Arafa-Muslim Holiday to get peak price.  I am confident I can fully refund my loan and look forward to a brighter future. “

Juhara Abdi, a 30 year old mother of two is another PSNP supported women who was selected for the pilot. Like her neighbor, Ashu, she depended on PSNP to feed her family. She said, “The goats mean a lot to me, since they helped me at a time I faced a big challenge. A few months after I received the five goats, feed and training, I got seriously ill. I would not have been able to recover this fast if it was not for the goats. I sold two of them to cover my medical expenses and take care of myself. As you see, I have two now, that are well fed and fattened and I want to continue doing this, since it is profitable business.”

By Genet G. Mariam, BENEFIT-REALISE Monitoring and Evaluation Senior Expert

BENEFIT-REALISE held three regional institutionalization workshops to ensure continued use of its achievements

BENEFIT-REALISE University clusters together with the Project Management Unit (PMU) organized three regional institutionalization workshops to identify key innovations / practices to institutionalize and discuss roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders to ensure continued use of BENEFIT-REALISE key achievements (best practices and approaches). The workshops attended by high level officials and key stakeholders from the government, research institutions, universities, beneficiary farmers and the programme staff, were successful in sharing the major achievements of the programme, agree on way forward and get the commitment of key stakeholders to ensure scaling and institutionalizations of selected best practices and approaches of the programme.  

BENEFIT-REALISE institutionalization agenda started at the inception of the programme, and due attention was given to it throughout the programme implementation period. Key stakeholders were part of the planning, implementing, monitoring and learning process, some even served as members of senior institutional advisors (e.g., regional BoA- PSNP directorate, Regional Agricultural Intuitions Director Generals, Zonal and Woreda including the seconded staffs, EIAR Director General).  

Over the last three years, the programme was successful in developing, adapting and verifying best practices to improve the livelihoods of food insecure communities supported by the government PSNP programme. As a result of the hard work done by the programme, most PSNP households who participated in the programme were able to close their food gap months towards being self-reliant and built their resilience through asset building. Selected beneficiary farmers were present to give their testimony on how their lives improved because of the programme intervention. Overall the programme was able to deliver beyond what is set out to do and have created high demand for new technologies among PSNP farmers.

Realizing that the sustainability of the achievements will highly depend on what will happen in the next couple of years, the workshop focused on discussing practices and approaches to institutionalize, reasons for selecting those innovations, identify stakeholder to lead the process, key roles and responsibility of stakeholders and the timeframe of the institutionalization process. In almost all regional institutional workshop the participants underscore the project life is sufficient to generate evidence but too short to mainstream and institutionalization all the key findings.  

The workshops were concluded with a vote of thanks to EKN for its financial support; WUR for its technical support; MoA (extension and PSNP), bureau of agriculture particularly the zonal department of agriculture, woreda and kebele staffs of office of agriculture and natural resources, EIAR, research institutions and implementing universities for their overall contributions to the success of the programme.

The Oroma workshop, organized by Haramaya University (HU), Arsi University (AU) and Oda Bultum University (OBU) clusters was held in Dire Dawa on Feb 25-26. The Amhara workshop organized by Bahir Dar University (BDU) and Woldia University clusters was held in Gondar on Feb 13th and 14th, 2021. The SNNP and Sidama regions workshop was organized by Hawassa and Arba Minch University clusters on Feb 26 and 27, 2021.  

BENFEIT-REALISE Oromia Region Institutionalization Workshop

BENFEIT-REALISE Amhara Region Institutionalization Workshop

BENEFIT-REALISE SNNP and Sidama Regions institutionalization workshopread the meeting full report here

introduing Multi-crop thresher (labor saving technology) in North Wollo Zone Wadila woreda

Crop production in Eastern Amhara, in general in Ethiopia is small-scale and non-mechanized that demand heavy human and animal power. Traditional method of using animal power for threshing results   not only in significant quantity and quality losses but also is time consuming and laborious. Despite the important benefits of improved technologies to farmers, they are not readily available for the farming community in Eastern Amhara.

In response to this BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University cluster introduced and promoted a mechanical multi-crop thresher-model 2020 fabricated by an Indian agro machine industry named Paracash. The project provided the thresher to farmers in North Wollo Zone Wadila woreda Timtimat kebele through Ediget-Behibret Seed Production & Multiplication farmers’ cooperative. In addition to reducing postharvest loss, saving labor and time, the machine is highly relevant in improving the seed quality of the seed multiplier cooperative. 

Farmers have started using the threshing machine for cereal crops mainly wheat. The multi-crop thresher has a capacity of 2.5 quintals of grain per hour, as observed on the field on wheat crop, and has fuel consumption of 1.5 liters per hour. Farmers testified that they are saving a considerable time and labor using the machine. Threshing of quintals of wheat is now taking about 3hrs compared to the traditional method that took 7 oxen days and 4 man days.

AbebeTebekawis one of the farmers in Wadila Woreda Timtimat kebele who used the threshed said “The thresher is really a labor-savingtechnology compared to the traditional animal-based threshing method. I have finished threshing and collected grains of 5.5Qt wheat crop within 3 hours that used to take at least two days using the traditional animal threshing method. In addition, the grains are cleaner, no breakage, no dusts & unwanted matters making it perfect to be used for seed. We are thankful to the REALISE Project in Woldia University Cluster.

Sete Fentagegn, Ediget Behibret’s seed production and multiplication cooperative chair person said, “The cooperative is administering the multi crop thresher. We give priority to member farmers of the cooperative to ensure we provide improved crop seeds in future. But we are also giving the service for other farmers. Member farmers are requested to pay about ETB 100 birr and those who are not members are paying birr 125 per hour.”

Sete also added that the provision of the machine (MCT) by REALIZE Project Woldia University Cluster to the cooperative has multidimensional benefits specifically to the cooperative and generally to the farmers in the kebele. Hence, the cooperative will strongly work to provide quality seeds to farmers in the kebele as well as in the woreda.

economic and ecological benefits of intercropping: BENEFIT-REALISE expereince in psnp households

The context

Shortage of food and low dietary diversity are the major challenges of PSNP households in Southern Ethiopia. The households face food gaps of 3-7 months per year, and even when food is available, their diet is not well balanced as it often lacks protein and vitamin source foods. Since 2018, BENEFIT-RELISE Hawassa University cluster has been engaged in selection, validation and introduction of best fit agricultural practices that are suitable to the different agroecological and socioeconomic settings of the target woredas.  

The intervention

Intercropping is considered as one of crop intensification strategies to increase agricultural productivity per unit area of land. It is more effective when we identify the most compatible combinations of leguminous crops with non-leguminous ones. In this respect, the BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University cluster considered intercropping of maize and haricot bean as one of the appropriate technologies to mitigate the dual problems of food shortage and poor nutritional status of PSNP farmers in the mid highland woredas of the cluster.

Intercropping of maize with haricot bean, has various economic and ecological benefits: Economically, the total productivity from the two crops that are grown simultaneously on the same piece of land, is higher than the sole-cropping practice of the individual crops calculated in terms of total grain yield or monetary value. The presence of legume (haricot bean) in the cropping systems improves nutritional security of households and contributes to improved soil fertility and reduced cost of fertilizers. In addition, to increasing total productivity of land, it fills the food gap months since it reaches maturity earlier than maize; it enhances the soil fertility; it reduces weed infestation and cost of weeding; and improves nutritional wellbeing of households because it is rich in protein. 

Considering these economic and ecological potentials, BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University cluster implemented demonstration and pre-scaling of intercropping of maize with haricot bean. The varieties selected for this purpose were, BH-546 for maize and Hawassa dume for haricot bean. The selection was based on adaptability of the varieties to the sites and also their compatibility. In 2019, the cluster demonstrated maize-bean intercropping practice on 80 farms and 8 FTCs, in 8 kebeles from Halaba, Shashogo and Silte woredas. Participating farmers were provided with inputs (seed and fertilizers) and training to implement the demonstrations.

Yield data collected from the demonstration trials of 2019 showed that productivity was 2-3 times higher than the farmers’ common practices of mono-cropping. The average yield obtained from intercropping fields of the sample farms was 76.1 quintals ha-1 of maize and 26.6 quintals of haricot bean ha-1, making up a total of 102.7 quintals ha-1. The intercropping yield was also compared with sole crop of the same varieties of maize and bean grown at the same sites and under the same management. The result indicated that the yield obtained from one hectare of intercropping field would have taken 1.85 hectares, if the two crops were grown as sole crop. This clearly demonstrated the potential of intercropping to maximize yield from a unit area of land.

In 2020, due to excellent performance of the technology in the demonstration trials and farmers’ interest, the project in collaboration with the respective woredas, implemented pre-scaling of maize-bean intercropping on 300 farms in the same woredas. The pre-scaling was done using the same varieties maize (BH-546) and haricot bean (Hawassa dume) on a total of 37.5 hectares by the 300 farmers. BENEFIT-REALISE provided each farmer with seed; 3.25 kg maize and 4.6 kg haricot bean to plant on 0.125 hectare of land. In-situ training was given to participating farmers and extension workers on field and crop management practices. The training on spacing of the plants has been particularly very important because the success of intercropping depends on proper utilization of available space and minimizing competition between the plants. One of the good achievements in this activity is that many farmers through participation in the demonstration and also in pre-scaling, have developed skills on field preparation, row planting and proper spacing of the intercrops. This is likely to sustain adoption of the practice in the future.

Although the two crops are sown together at the same time, the haricot bean reached the harvest stage within three months, and maize was harvested two months later. This staggered harvesting in itself is advantageous for farmers since it can contribute to filling of the food gap months. The average yield obtained from pre-scaling of intercropped maize and bean for all woredas was 64.2 qts maize and 18.0 qts haricot bean, a total of 82.2 qts per hectare. This yield is about twice the amount that is obtained from the common farmers’ practice.

The story of Jemal Dardegba is one good example that shows properly managed intercropping practice of maize and bean has the potential to significantly improve food and nutritional security in the mid highlands.

Jemal Dardegba is a 45 year-old farmer in Doboenseno kebele of Silte woreda, and is responsible for 7 family members. Jemal said, “I was given inputs (seed of maize and haricot bean) and trained by BENEFIT-REALISE experts how to implement intercropping on my 0.125 hectare of land. To maximize yield benefits I applied 12.5kg NPS (100 kg/ha) and 25kg Urea (200kg per/ha) fertilizers, as per the recommendations. Between the periods of planting to harvesting, I took very good care of my crops sometimes assisted by the kebele extension agent.  At harvest, I obtained 13.5 qt of maize and 4 qt of haricot bean from 0.125 ha. I used a popular hybrid maize variety named Shone on a plot that is adjacent to the maize bean intercropping. We compared the yield from the two fields and the maize yield in intercropping was 20% more than the sole cropped Shone variety, even without including the yield of haricot bean.

The yield I got from maize as well as haricot beans is very high. I have never harvested even half of this amount from this small plot of land. I plan to use half of the produce for home consumption and sell the rest. The income I get from the sale of maize will be used to buy a small water pump for irrigation purposes. Using irrigation water, I can produce vegetables 2-3 times a year mainly for market, but also for home consumption.

Now, I have acquired knowledge and skills to effectively handle maize-bean intercropping practice and maximize yield from my small plot of land, I can improve food availability and income of my family. I have learnt that the solutions to our problems are within our reach, but we don’t see them until somebody shows it to us. We should open our minds to learn new agricultural technologies and we should work hard to get out of poverty. I am grateful for this opportunity that showed me how to harvest more from my small plot and improve the livelihoods of my family in general”. 

BENEFIT-REALISE shared its customised extension pilot expereince via webinar hosted by the World Bank

On 17th of December, 2020, BENEIT-REALISE shared its experience on customized extension pilot via  webinar that brought together 52 Agriculture practitioners, policy makers and researchers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and India. The customized extension pilot, popularly known as ‘one timad’ package is designed for Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) households.

The webinar was opened by the Honourable State Minister Dr. Mandefro Negussie. In his opening remarks, he emphasised agricultural extension advisory service is a key policy instrument in Ethiopian agricultural transformation agenda. He indicated that the Ethiopian government has a 10 year-plan that focuses on increasing production and competitiveness; build a green and climate-resilient economy as well as bring institutional transformation. The government is also working to make agricultural extension service pluralistic, ICT based and demand driven. He finally called for a more south-south cooperation for greater change and transformation of smallholders’ agriculture.

Among the four speakers, Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager talked about  ‘Agricultural extension service in Ethiopia: Achievements, challenges and case study on customized extension’. He briefly presented the historical evolution of agricultural extension in Ethiopia, challenges and major achievements. He underscored that one of the gaps in the extension service provision is the standard nature of the extension message and the extension package. He shared the experience of BENEFIT-REALISE and MoA pilot in customised extension for the PSNP households. The customised extension mainly emphasised designing a package for the poor and the youth segments of the population considering their commodity choice, resource endowment, scale of operation and extension message. The pilots demonstrated that tailoring the extension message to the needs of the poor has contributed to bridging the food gap months by improving productivity, enhancing diet diversity, increasing income and building the confidence and empowerment of PSNP households.

The other three speakers, two from India and one form Rwanda, shared their respective experience on extension service delivery to smallholder farmers. The general discussion was facilitated by Abel Lufafa, Senior Agriculture Specialist, World Bank, India. Participants highlighted the importance of south-south collaboration and addressing second generation issues in extension such as pluralistic extension, ICT based extension, mechanization, extension for the youth, provision of financial services to smallholder farmers etc.

Finally vote of thanks was given by Himmat Patel, World Bank, India.

For more information

Agriculture Extension Webinar Agenda

Customized extension to ensure inclusiveness presentation 17_12_2020

BENEFIT-REALISE / ISRIC conducted Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) virtual training

Legacy spatial soil information, mainly soil resource inventories in Ethiopia, have been generated based on conventional soil survey approaches that require expert based /mental models to generate spatial relationships between observed and unvisited sites. This classical vector/polygon based and very expensive approach is characterized with low accuracy in soil mapping and generates qualitative outputs with unknown uncertainty and purity.
With the advancement of remote sensing, GIS, geo-statistical models and techniques, soil and terrain mapping has shifted towards a modern digital approach, known as Digital Soil Mapping (DSM). DSM enables experts to generate a continuous, raster based quantitative soil and terrain information with quantified accuracy and uncertainty. It has demonstrated that reasonably accurate soil maps can be produced using quantitative predictive models and expedite soil surveys with fewer observations, leading to a dramatic reduction in field and laboratory cost.
Despite various fragmented efforts by various initiatives, DSM is still at an infant stage in Ethiopia. Since DSM application requires new skills, availability and accessibility of standardized remote sensing based environmental predictors/covariates that are not widely available in Ethiopia, the activity was undertaken with the collaboration of international partners such as Wageningen University and Research/ ISRIC (International Soil Reference and Information Centre) through BENEFIT partnership project.
To transform and institutionalize DSM at various institutions including at the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), the recent effort of BENEIT-REALISE /ISRIC focused on building the capacity of soil surveyors and geospatial through provision of short term trainings. The virtual training titled “Introduction to Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) with focus on WRB soil class mapping” was given to 9 geospatial experts and 10 soil surveyors, 1 national coordinator from Soil Information and Mapping Directorate, MoA from 23 November to Tuesday 01 December, 2020.

The opening remark given by Dr. Mandefro Nigusse, State Minister of MoA highlighted the recent joint initiatives on low potential areas soil mapping and characterization with semi details scale (50 meters) is critically important for the MoA ambition to build capacity on soil information and mapping for agricultural development and soil fertility management. MoA are very grateful for Wageningen University and more particularly to ISRIC for leading the soil mapping and providing a consecutive training to our staff and other professional in the field. The training enhances the MoA and other partners such as Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and Higher Learning Institution (HLI) to build their capacity and execute their respective responsibilities. We envisage such fruitful partnership to continue.

In his welcoming speech Dr. Tewodros Tefera (PhD), BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manage gave an overview of the programme’s achievement so far (listed below) and noted that BENEFIT-REALISE and MoA partnership is forged to fill an existing gap in the promotion of sustainable soil characterization and management. He stated soil information need to be available to support decision making in managing soils for development such as food security, agriculture and livelihoods. He thanked Johan and his team (ISRIC) for their dedication and commitment to provide this training despite the global challenge we faced due to coronavirus pandemic.  

Overall, BENEFIT-REALISE programme with support from ISRIC have complemented the efforts of MoA’s national soil information system through the following deliverables/achievements:

  • Semi-detailed-50 meter spatial soil information generation across 15 weredas;
  • State-of-the-art countrywide 50meter-geomorphic map (for wider application not only for soil/land resource mapping but also for agro ecological zonation and other biophysical mapping and updating   missions);
  • Digital soil mapping capacity building of national soil surveyors and geospatial professionals; and
  • State-of-the-art countrywide 50meter-remotesensing based environmental covariates/predictor variables for further soil/land resource mapping efforts by the MoA.

building the resilience of women through small ruminant fattening business

Kidist Ayenachew, a 34 year old mother of 4 children, is one of BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University cluster beneficiaries in Wadila Woreda, Hamusit Kebele. She was one of the 16 women selected to participate in small scale small ruminant fattening business project in October 2019.

Prior to the project Kidist made her livelihood mainly as a casual laborer and by harvesting wheat and other cereals from her parents’ small plot of land. But the income she earned was not enough to meet the basic needs of her family.

Remembering her life before the project, Kidist said, “As a landless, unskilled and economically vulnerable woman, it was difficult to raise 4 children on my own. I did not have the capacity to participate in community events and was looked down by my neighbors. I was always struggling searching for mechanisms to improve my life.”

The project provided 16 women each with 5 male sheep & two months concentrate/feed through the credit system via RUSACCOs (a rural saving and credit cooperative) and one-day skill training on small ruminant fattening techniques. The amount of loan Kidist borrowed was 8,250.00 birr to be paid back within two years in four phases (every 6 months). The money was directly used to buy 5 local breed male sheep for fattening purposes. In addition, Kidist received continuous technical & moral support by the project staff and kebele livestock experts that highly contributed to the success achieved.  

In the last three operation cycles (9 months), Kidist earned a net profit of 16,650.00B birr. She already repaid half of the loan which is 4,125.00 birr to the RUSACCOs. After covering fattening operational costs and expenses related to family food, clothing, medication, school materials for her 3 children and loan repayment as of September 2020, she has more than 3000.00 birr in her savings account. Kidist also bought house utensils, chairs and kitchen cabinets with 4,570.00 birr.  

She explained, “Since the project, my life has improved dramatically. We used to eat twice a day, now, not only do we eat three times a day but our diet has diversified. During holidays, 3 to 4 times a year, we slaughter one of our sheep for meat. I am not afraid of bad times to come since I have enough saved to recover, if needed. And each and every progress, success and stepping-up you see happened because of the fattening business I started. I plan to increase the number of small ruminants for fattening from 5 sheep to at least 10 to 12 in the coming 3 to 4 months, assuming that my net monthly income will increase to at least 5000 birr and above.” With a smile she added, “I want everyone to know that women can indeed perform well and improve their livelihood, if given the opportunity.”

From the success of Kidist Ayenachew and the others who participated in the same business, we can see that small-scale small ruminant fattening is an ideal business that requires small initial investment and can build the resilience of disadvantaged women. Full involvement of beneficiaries in terms of business idea generation, labor, material and financial contribution, skill of business management and regular technical follow-up by experts (when necessary), is crucial to ensure sustainable success.  

The ‘Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia’ (REALISE) programme is established in 2018 with the aims to contribute to sustainable livelihoods through the introduction of improved farming practices, innovations and social experiments to strengthen the current Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in Ethiopia.

High-level officials and key partners visited BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University cluster intervention areas

On November 23, 2020, BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University cluster organized field visit to its intervention areas in Kachabira woreda of Kambata Tambaro Zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). The visit was organized for members of the Regional Senior Institutional Advisors, SNNPR Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) officials and experts, Kambata Tambaro zone department of agriculture, Kachabira woreda office of agriculture, and the surrounding farmers.

The delegation included Dr. Agdew Bekele, Director General of Southern Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), who is also a member of Regional Senior Institutional Advisors, and Dr. Tekle Wogayehu, Vice President of Arba Minch University Research and Community Service. Ato Gizachew Walera, Head of Kachabira office of agriculture welcomed the participants and appreciated the programme’s support to the government effort towards improving the food security of PSNP households. Dr. Ayano Beraso, President of Hawassa University and Chairperson of the Regional Senior Institutional Advisors officially opened the field visit highlighting the success of the programme in demonstrating and piloting innovations that are already improving the livelihood of PSNP farmers. He added that scaling and ensuring continued use of these innovations is the responsibility of local institutions. 

Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager gave a briefing on the role and focus areas of the BENEFIT-REALISE programme: food security, nutrition, capacity building, youth unemployment and addressing structural institutional bottlenecks that hinder progress. He gave an example of the pro-model farmers’ extension approach that excludes poor farmers and the programme’s ‘one-timad’ package that is an extension approach that is designed for resource poor farmers including PSNP beneficiaries.

Prof. Tesfaye Abebe, BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University cluster Manager, gave an overview of the cluster activities in 2020 that included 3 demonstrations, 12 pre-scaling and 3 seed and pilot activities. The cluster was able to reach 8791 farmers directly, benefiting 35055 farmers indirectly through field visits and experience sharing. In total, 43846 farmers benefited directly and indirectly.  

Posters presentations were given by BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa cluster experts covering all activities in the 7 woredas of Sidama and SNNP regions. In addition, ongoing interventions, which include demonstration of triticale, and pre-scaling of faba bean and food barley on farmers’ field and farmers’ training centers (FTCs) in two kebeles were visited.

During the discussion session chaired by Dr. Ayano Beraso and Dr. Tewodros Tefera, the farmers talked about the livelihood improvement they witnessed by applying the best fit practices (BFPs) promoted by the programme. Consensus was reached not to replace wheat with triticale in the high wheat potential areas, and only to promote it in its niche where stresses (like extreme pH levels, poor soil fertility, etc.) are prevalent and not suitable for wheat production. Hawassa University, BoA, Kambatana Tambaro zone department of agriculture, and Kachabira woreda office agriculture promised to play their role to ensure continued use of these BFPs and work on institutionalizing them. In 2-3 months, the programme plans to organize a regional workshop to handover and promote the institutionalization of its promising achievements.

Determinants of smallholder farmers’ decisions on fertilizer use for cereal crops in the ethiopian highlands – research article


This study identified decision variables influencing fertilizer adoption and optimal fertilizer rates among smallholder farmers in the Ethiopian highlands. The fertilizer adoption and fertilizer use were examined in four regional states using a questionnaire survey, which was administered to 2880 farm households. A double hurdle model was used to analyze factors influencing the two independent decisions of adoption of fertilizers and use of fertilizers. The model estimates of the first hurdle revealed that the probability of fertilizer adoption increased by 1.2% as household education status improved, by 1.4% for an increased number of active family members, by 5.6% with improved access to credit, by 3.4% with cooperative membership, by 3.3% with an increase in farm size, by 4.6% when soil and water conservation practices are employed, and by 3.4% when agroecology of the farm is located in the medium to highland zone. Conversely, the probability of fertilizer adoption reduced by 0.9% for an increase in family size, 0.6% with 1 km distance from all-weather road, 1.6% for a kilometer further to farm plots, and 0.9% for an increase in number of parcels. The intensity of use of fertilizers was influenced by education status of the household head, family size, access to credit, membership to cooperatives, use of crop rotation, annual income, number of farm plots owned, use of soil and water conservation, and agroecology. Therefore, a concerted effort is needed to encourage fertilizer adoption and optimum fertilizer use intensity by improving households’ resource endowment, institutional capacity to deliver services, and infrastructure development. Read the research article here

Tewodros Tefera1,*, Eyasu Elias2 and Christy van Beek3,4

  1. School of Environment, Gender and Development Studies, Hawassa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
  2. Centre for Environmental Sciences, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
  3. Wageniningen Environmental Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands and
  4. Present address: AgroCares, Wageningen, The Netherlands

*Corresponding author. Email: (Received 26 November 2019; revised 5 June 2020; accepted 31 August 2020)

BENEFIT-REALISE Bahir Dar Cluster university support to SPCs to promote improved quality potato seed

Improved and quality seed shortage is one of the major constraints that slow down agricultural production and productivity to sustain food security of smallholder farmers. In response to the lack of public and private seed producers that can supply quality seed, especially potato tubers, one of BENEFIT–REALISE Bahir Dar cluster 2020 activity focused on supporting two Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) to promote improved and recommended potato varieties namely, Belete and Gudeni.    

The multiplication of the Belete and Gudeni G2 class potato tubers provided by Gondar Agricultural Research Center (GARC) was carried out in 6 clusters in Dabat and Wogera woredas, under open field condition. A total of two hectares of land was covered using 40 quintals of potato tuber, by 40 farmers, 29 male and 11 female-headed households. BENEFIT-REALISE BDU cluster seed experts gave technical feedbacks to woreda expert and farmers and ensured proper agronomic practices were followed. To use the seed for further multiplication and strengthen the seed linkage with central Gondar zone, seed laboratory and quarantine office was involved in the inspection process.  

At Dabat woreda the first-round field inspection was conducted by GARC, Gondar seed laboratory and quarantine office and woreda office of agriculture. At Wogera the seed laboratory and quarantine office was not able to attend the first-round inspection due to road sliding preventing access to the site. The second-round inspection is planned to be conducted under Diffused Light Store (DLS) condition after harvest.

Thus far, both varieties are performing very well and farmers are very encouraged by the results they are seeing.  

Effect of COVID-19 on PSNP programme operations and its beneficiaries

BENEFIT-REALISE published a report on the effect of COVID-19 on PSNP programme operations and its beneficiaries. The report summarizes the findings of a rapid assessment conducted to better understand how the pandemic affects the PSNP farming community livelihoods who are vulnerable and chronically food insecure groups even during normal days. The rapid assessment was conducted in four regional states covering 60 BENEFIT-REALISE PSNP woredas.

The report highlights that COVID-19 is threatening the food security and long-term livelihoods of PSNP households who face multitude vulnerabilities to the pandemic`s effect as their coping resources are limited. Its looks at the effect of COVID-19 on PSNP pathways and associated measures taken; coping mechanisms used by PSNP households; specific COVID-19 challenges faced by PSNP farmers; PSNP support needed and provided during COVID-19; impact of reversal of migration due to the mobility restrictions; and changes on the number of targeted PSNP households, payment and payment modalities.

The recommendations highlights, harmonized response with the government, donors and NGOs is required to counter COVID-19 impact on the PSNP programme and beneficiaries. The recommendations focus on provision of quick food access; supplying food items in nearby villages to reduce movement to urban in search of food items; conducting awareness creation / orientation on preventive measures of COVID-19; provision of COVID-19 protective supplies; easing restrictions with necessary preventive measures to resume the implementation of important off-farm activities; provision of permanent direct support to female headed households; and putting in place credit facilities and mechanisms to supply water nearby residences.

Read the full report here.



BENEFIT-REALISE bi-annual progress report

BENEFIT-REALISE bi-annual progress report gives an overview of the programme achievements in (i) increased quality and quantity of sustainable agricultural production; (ii) improved enabling environments; (iii) one timad (quarter of a hectare) package; (iii) improving diet diversity; and (iv) capacity building.

The report highlights lessons on the value of working closely with BoA to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 and promote ownership and institutionalization; the relevance of linkage and collaboration to encourage two-way learning, enable appropriate implementation of activities and create institutional capacities in the agriculture sector; high interest in timad package and seed mini packages; and value of social inclusion.

Read the report here.


A high level delegation of BENEFIT-REALISE programme institutional advisors and Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) in Ethiopia visited BENEFIT-REALISE programmes activities in Oromia and SNNP regions on August 7 – 8, 2020.

The delegation included State Minster of Agriculture, Directors of Extension Directorate and Food Security Coordination Directorate from Ministry of Agriculture (MoA); Director of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR); Senior Director of Production & Productivity Projects vertical, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA); Deputy Head of Mission, EKN; Senior Policy Officer for Food Security & Sustainable Development of EKN; and BENEFIT senior staff.

The visit to Arsi Zone, Zeway Dugda woreda, Oromia and Silti and Weyra Jedo woredas of SNNP regional sates showcased the achievements of BENEFIT-REALISE programme that focus on working with Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) households.

The visit was a great opportunity to have a fruitful discussion with local stakeholders and PSNP farmers on the achievements and challenges of the programme.  The participants acknowledged the success achieved in bridging the food gaps with increased productivity, introduction of locally appropriate technology including early maturing varieties, intercropping, use of farmyard manure, nutrition sensitive agriculture; promotion of agribusiness models for youth employment and ensuring quality seed access. The major challenges raised included sustainability, dependency syndrome and the slow pace of stakeholders and partners to take the successes to scale. Above all, the difficulty in bringing institutional and attitudinal changes by embedding positive changes and mainstreaming learning to break PSNP households’ shackle of dependency syndrome was highlighted as a major challenge. The visit was concluded with a discussion with institutional advisors and EKN on way forward.

During the visit, a summary the achievements of the programme over the last six months (January-June 2020), challenges encountered and lessons learned was shared. The brochure outlined the achievements in (i) increased quality and quantity of sustainable agricultural production; (ii) improved enabling environments; (iii) one timad (quarter of a hectare) package; (iii) improving diet diversity; and (iv) capacity building.

The programme activities focus on (i) demonstration and pre-scaling of best fit agricultural practices; (ii) integrated nutrition interventions which aimed to enhance diet diversity; (iii) scalable youth employment generation on agribusiness development; and (iv) institutional innovation such as one-timad package and customized extension services to PSNP households.


  • H.E. Dr. Mandefro Negussie, State Minister of Agriculture, MoA
  • Mrs. Yenenesh Egu, Extension Directorate Director, MoA
  • Mrs. Sintayehu Demisse, Food Security Coordination Directorate Director, MoA
  • Dr. Feto Esimo, Director General, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)
  • Dr. Chimdo Anchala, Senior Director of Production & Productivity Projects vertical, ATA
  • Mr. Thijs Woudstra, Deputy Head of Mission; Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Ethiopia
  • Dr. Worku Tessema, Senior Policy Officer for Food Security & Sustainable Development of EKN in Ethiopia
  • Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager
  • Dr. Tewodros Tefera BENEFIT-REALISE manager

The effect of COVID 19 on sesame belt agricultural labourers from Amhara and Tigray

BENEFIT-REALISE brief “The effect of COVID19 on agricultural casual labourers: a case of sesame belt migrants from Amhara and Tigray” highlights the findings of a rapid assessment designed to evaluate the early effects of COVID19 on PSNP households wage income in sesame growing areas of Tigray and Amhara regions.

This rapid assessment covered 20 PSNP BENEFIT-REALISE targeted woredas in Tigray and Amhara regions and was conducted by BENEFIT-REALISE Tigray and Amhara university clusters.  The study used face to face and telephone interview to assess the effect of COVID 19 on PSNP household’s migration who work as casual labourer in sesame growing areas in the western part of Tigray (Humara, Welkayit and the Tahtay Adiabo) and northwest of Amhara (Metema, Mirab Armacho, Tach Armacheho, Shinfa and Quara).  A total of 125 respondents participated in the interviews. The interviews were conducted with PSNP households, kebele office head, woreda level subject matter specialist and regional experts, and by REALISE programme cluster staff using checklist.

The brief looked at the consequences of mobility restrictions and the status of PSNP households who depend on casual labour in Amhara and Tigray.


  1. The sesame sector attracts more than 500,000 casual labourers at different growing cycle: planting, weeding and harvesting. By so doing it plays key role in income generation and livelihood security.
  2. A significant number of PSNP households especially the youth entirely depend on casual labour wages earned in the sesame growing areas.
  3. The disruption caused by COVID19 and inability to earn income that contributes to consumption smoothening and investment in agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds purchase – aggravating their vulnerability in both short and long terms.
  4. The PSNP programme support through public work and permanent direct support payments transfer is insufficient due to the increased family sizes related to migrant returnees and increasing inflation.
  5. Reassessment of eligible PSNP beneficiaries is required since COVID 19 is negatively impacting many more households who were not considered eligible prior to the pandemic.
  6. The agricultural operation of smallholder farmers particularly PSNP households need financial support and postponing repayment and cancelling of agricultural loan and credit support arrangement for agricultural inputs.
  7. Reduced labour productivity and precarious health condition of casual labourers may worsen with the continued COVID 19 pandemic, unless appropriate measure is taken.
  8. The Tigray and Amhara regional and national governments need to work with sesame investors to facilitate casual labourers movement to sesame areas as well as provide protective facilities and infrastructure in destination areas.

Rapid assessment findings of BENFIT-SBN (Sesame Business Network) on COVID-19 related challenges in the Ethiopian sesame sector also highlighted availability of labour and welfare of labourers as are of major Concern. Read the COVID-19 Sesame Alert here.

Rapid assessment findings on effect of COVID-19 on agricultural inputs availability and supply in PSNP area

BENEFIT-REALISE published a brief that summarizes the findings of a rapid assessment conducted to better understand the effect of COVID-19 on agricultural inputs availability and supply (fertilizer and seed) and its implications on the agricultural sector performance, in four regional states of Ethiopia (Tigray, Oromia, SNNPR and Amhara). The study looked at distribution of fertilizer and seed in regions in general and in BENEFIT-REALISE implementing woredas in specific. The brief shows the specific influence of COVID on PSNP households arming operation and specific arrangements to make agricultural inputs accessible to farmers

The rapid assessments undertaken by BENEFIT-REALISE university clusters used secondary data, interviews with officials at region and woreda levels and discussions with farmers at kebele levels. A total of 324 key informants and discussants participated in the data collection. The assessment was made in April-May 2020, and summarized per region and cluster.

Status of input delivery: Tigray region delivered 77.6% of fertilizer demand and 45.5% of seed demand to woredas and kebeles. Amhara region distributed 58.7% of fertilizer demand and 34.1% of seed demand. Oromia region distributed 48.8% of fertilizer demand and 26.8% of seed demand while SNNPR delivered 60% of fertilizer demand and 61.9% of seed demand. There is a wide gap between demand and supply of inputs: fertilizers (NPS and urea) ranging from 22.4-51.2% and seed 38.1-73.2%. Oromia distributed lower amount of fertilizers and seed than other regions.

Key messages

  1. There is a significant gap in fertilizers and seeds supply against the demand in all regions. However, the problem is more severe in Oromia and Amhara which are the major food suppliers in the country.
  2. Farmers’ ability to purchase fertilizers and seeds is low and the problem is more pronounced among PSNP households who depend on off-farm activities to supplement their income and is impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions.
  3. Farmers should be encouraged to use home saved seed, compost and backyard manure where the supply of improved seed and fertilizers is inadequate.
  4. A special fund for agricultural finance which supply credit for agricultural inputs should be put in place.
  5. Mechanized farming services should be provided to those who can afford the payment which in turn ease the oxen shortage faced by PSNP households.

The assessment was conducted by Mekelle University REALISE cluster, Bahir Dar University REALISE cluster, Woldia University REALISE cluster, Arsi University REALISE cluster, Haramaya University REALISE cluster, Oda Bultum University REALISE cluster, Arba Minch University REALISE cluster, Hawassa University REALISE cluster, and summarized by national management team in Addis Ababa.

Read the full report here (Effect of COVID 19 on agricultural inputs availability and supply)



COVID-19 pandemic affects casual labourers and other vulnerable section of the community more significantly than others due to their low income, limited availability and access to foods and other livelihood necessities. The mobility restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government to contain the spread of COVID-19 infections restrict workers from traveling to areas where there is work.

To better understand the effects of COVID-19 on the livelihoods and food security of casual labourers at household level, especially those in PSNP areas, BENEFIT-REALISE conducted a rapid assessment in selected 17 zones and 24 PSNP woredas in six clusters of BENEFIT-REALISE programme: Woldiya, Haramaya, Arsi, Oda Bultum, Hawassa and Arba Minch.

The findings highlighted the following alerts (full report)

Alert 1: COVID-19 mobility restriction and doubling of transportation tariff is limiting the movement of casual labourers to find work, jeopardizing the very means of income for food and other livelihood necessities.

Alert 2: Casual labourers inability to earn income not only effects the food security status of their households, but also means low investment for seed and fertilizer that significantly impacts next season productivity and future well being of the households.

Alert 3: Due to the nature of their work, causal labourers face higher risk of infection and need special attention in daily monitoring of their physical health and provision of necessary personal protective equipment.

Alert 4: Insufficient data and information on causal labourers and their mobility is making it challenging to meet the demands of the labour market.

Alert 5: COVID-19 has unprecedented impact on the poor and vulnerable groups. The way out requires government’s as well as NGOs and donor’s effort to facilitate special financing arrangement which mitigate households and individuals’ vulnerability to food security and abject poverty.


BENEFIT-REALISE published a synthesis of literature review on policies and interventions for rural youth employment in Ethiopia

Rural youth employment is an important development challenge in Ethiopia due to high population growth and limited opportunities for income and livelihoods for rural youth. Even though the policy context reveals the necessity of support for rural youth employment, policies on investment and business parks pay little attention to off-farm self-employment opportunities and equipping the youth with the required skills for technical, managerial, and financial aspects of their business projects.

The literature review discusses strengths and weaknesses of the policies, strategies, and looks at some relevant rural youth interventions highlighting their major achievements, success factors, challenges, and lessons learned from their implementations.

Recent efforts to enhance rural youth employment through skills development and financial inclusion are registering positive outcomes in empowering the rural youth vulnerable to migration. Identification of profitable value chains, use of integrated approaches linked with skills development, mentorship, access to finance, and business networks are proven to contribute to increased employment and income for the rural youth.

The review recommendations focused on promoting self-employment in off-farm activities; provision of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for agriculture and agribusiness; the need to focus on youth in rural areas; and the relevance of diverse, context-specific and knowledge intensive interventions implemented using integrated approaches.


Timely delivery of agricultural input in the context of COVID-19: BENEFIT-REALISE Bahir Dar University Cluster

Based on 2019 main cropping season research findings and recommendations, one of BENEFIT–REALISE Bahir Dar cluster 2020 plan focus on scaling of best-selected crop technologies. Accordingly, in the context of COVID-19, a total of 893 quintals of improved crops varieties and 143 quintals of fertilizer (69 quintals urea and 74 quintals were NPSB) for one timad package were distributed to the ten BENEFIT-REALISE intervention woredas on time. The improved seed is expected to cover 634.3 hectares of land benefiting 5842 PSNP beneficiaries.

This year’s input distribution process was challenged due to COVID-19 movement restrictions. To ensure timely delivery of inputs, the programme worked closely with its partners, namely research centers, woreda office of Agriculture, Bureau of Agriculture, and cooperatives to address issues related to seed procurement and collection process, seed shortage (both in kind and quantity), seed transportation problem, and delay of seed certification in all seed-producing organizations. In addition to frequent phone calls and on line communication, the programme collaborated with Bahir Dar University and regional COVID-19 taskforce to get vehicle movement pass cards to facilitate the procurement, collection and distribution process.

Among the total procured seed; 318.5 quintals of bread wheat, 30 quintals of food barely, 8 quintals of malt barely, 385 quintals of potato tuber, 15 quintals of sorghum, 5.7 quintals of mung bean, 100 quintals of haricot bean, 26.5 quintals of tef, 4 kgs of papay, 30 kgs of swish chad, 31.25 kgs of carrot, 32.5 kgs of beetroot, and 3 kgs of Ethiopian kale were collected and distributed to the target wordas.

BENEFIT-REALISE national baseline survey report published

BENEFIT-REALISE published its national baseline survey report conducted in 18 selected implementing woredas in four regions namely Amhara, SNNPR, Oromia and Tigray. The household survey was conducted in November and December 2018. A total of 1902 (1283 PSNP and 619 non-PSNP) households were surveyed. This baseline survey is part of a coordinated effort between REALISE and Wageningen University to collect and generate information on socio-economic conditions, agricultural production, diet diversity, asset holding and the state of gender-based division of labour at households’ level in the project areas.

The baseline survey aimed

  • To assess the current level of agricultural livelihoods and food security of PSNP households with potential to be targeted by REALISE project,
  • To monitor programme progress in the course of implementation
  • To establish indicators that would be used to evaluate the impact of the programme

Data on household and demographic characteristics, available best practices, crop diversity, productivity, agricultural extension services, food security and gender were collected and analyzed. The report provides preliminary results on six priority topics: practice, seed, production methods, food security, extension, and gender.

This baseline report is serving as a working document along a PRA study to identify programme focus areas and also will be used to track changes that will be made due to the programme interventions. The report highlights the following areas:

  • Make best fit technologies available to PSNP households to improve their production and productivity;
  • Ensure availability and access of seed to PSNP farmers in the right quality, quantity and diversity through strengthening the seed producers’ cooperatives and seed enterprises;
  • Test, demonstrate and pre-scale agricultural practices using participatory approaches;
  • Pilot new approaches and practices to ensure social inclusion of the marginalized group of community (women, youth and the economically poor);
  • Bridge the capacity gaps of extension agents, subject matter specialist and researchers for better synergy and result oriented implementation of research and extension mandates;
  • Enable better understanding of systemic bottlenecks of agricultural sector; and
  • Deepen the institutionalization of evidences and proven approaches for wider application and policy revision.

We regret to inform you of the passing of Asaye Tesema, Social Inclusion Expert of BENEFIT-REALISE

It is with great sadness and much shock we inform you of the sudden death of Asaye Tesema, a Social Inclusion Expert of BENEFIT-REALISE programme. As a valued member of BENEFIT-REALISE Bahir Dar University cluster, he will be deeply missed by the BENEFIT family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they go through this difficult time.

Smallholder poultry enterprise bringing opportunity to unemployed youth and becoming a source of improved poultry breed

A recent BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster (HwU) pilot is registering impressive results towards addressing youth unemployment and bridging the gap in demand and supply of chicken meat and egg. The pilot study on the potentials of small-scale poultry enterprises to create jobs to unemployed youth and serve as dissemination sources for improved poultry breeds started in the second half of 2019.

The majority of rural households in the southern part of Ethiopia mostly maintain few native chickens, in their homes. Although native chicken breeds are well adapted to the management conditions, their productivity is low, creating a gap in demand and supply of chicken meat and egg and resulted in increased price of these commodities. On the other hand, with few exceptions of some chicken farms around Debrezeit and few other places, large scale commercial poultry production is not widely practiced in Ethiopia. Taking this problem into consideration, REALISE Programme, Hawassa University cluster started to explore the feasibility and potential of small-scale poultry enterprises to create jobs to landless and unemployed youth (scale able youth employment).

The pilot study was implemented in two kebeles namely Kutuambe in Bolosso Bombe woreda, Wolaita zone and Mesena kebele in Kachabira woreda of Kambata Tembaro zone. The two woredas were selected due to (i) prevalence of very high youth unemployment rate (ii) shortage of improved poultry breeds; and (iii) interest and commitment of the woreda and kebele officials

Major activities implemented

  • Active engagement of stakeholders was taken as a key factor for the success of the initiative. Therefore intensive dialogues were made with the relevant woreda and kebele officials and experts before implementation of the activity. To these effects, the cluster approached the woreda stakeholders, reached agreement on operational modalities and roles and responsibilities of the different parties. The discussants included woreda level Administrator, agricultural office head, livestock office head, cooperative office head, job creation office head, women and youth office head and food security desk head. At kebele level discussion was made with the kebele leader and livestock and agricultural extension workers.
  • Two poultry houses, each with a capacity of 1000-1500 chickens, were established at the two sites. At Kutuambe, a new low-cost poultry house was constructed jointly by the project and the woreda. The project provided industrial products such as cement and corrugated iron sheet while the woreda provided locally available materials such as construction timber and labor. The chicken house at Mesena was an old store which was renovated jointly by REALISE HwU cluster and the kebele, on a cost-sharing arrangements. In addition, materials necessary to raise day-old chicken which included brooder boxes, feeders, drinkers, vaccines, feed for two months, etc. were provided for the poultry houses.
  • Selection of young women and men was made jointly by the Job creation office, cooperative office, the kebeles and REALISE HwU cluster, strictly based on a criteria that the youth should be sons or daughters of PSNP members, and don’t have land or other jobs. A total of 20 youth comprised of 13 female and 7 male were selected for both poultry centers, i.e. 10 for each center.
  • The youth groups were then given legal status by the woreda. A chairperson, deputy chair person, secretary and treasurer were nominated among the team members.
  • The youth groups and woreda/kebele stakeholders were given three days intensive training on technical aspects of poultry production, and management of poultry as a business (record keeping, financial management, team work, marketing, etc.)
  • Two thousand day-old chicken were purchased from Debre zeit Research Center (1000 for each site) and transported to the sites. The cost per day-old-chicken was birr 10.00birr). The koekoek breed of chicken was selected since it has dual purpose (egg and meat), and tolerant to disease and local management conditions, and is suitable to the local growing conditions. Another advantage of this breed is that their egg is fertile and can be hatched locally, while other commercial poultry breeds produce infertile eggs that can be used only for food.
  • Proper support and coaching were given to the youth groups by the REALISE team on handling of the chickens, close follow up for the first three days, followed by weekly visits.


  • In the first round of production, the chickens were sold within the respective woredas at the age of 45-60 days in the center. At Bolosso Bombe 980 chickens were sold and gross revenue of Birr 98,000.00 was collected by the youth group (association). Out of this. Birr 20,000.00 was paid to the youth members; 2000.00 each, for the two months engagement on the activity (Birr 1000.00/month, which is going to be increased as the capital grows), feed and vaccine was bought for the second round, and Birr 54,000.00 was deposited in the youth association’s bank account. At Kachabira, the youth group generated gross revenue of Birr 92,000.00 from sale of 1000 chickens. Out of these the youth group members received Birr 2000.00 each, and additional expenses (feed, vaccine, etc.) incurred for the second round of production and Birr 36,000.00 was deposited in their bank account. Wihich means, in the first round of production, a total of Birr 90,000.00 was saved by the two youth associations, indicating very good prospects of these enterprises. However, effective linkage should be established with input suppliers and market outputs to sustain profitability of the enterprises.
  • Chicken mortality was very low (about 1%), and the high survival rate was attributed to; a) maintenance of warm temperature for the first two weeks by using brooder boxes and straws; b) proper administration of vaccine at the recommended intervals; c) use of recommended feed types depending on their growth stage (starter feed until three weeks and normal feed after that); d) maintenance of sanitation of the poultry house and the equipments; and e) genetic capacity of the Koekoek breed to tolerate disease.

Lessons learnt

  • Organizing and engaging youth in small-scale poultry production is profitable and can create employment opportunity for rural unemployed youth;
  • Youth poultry enterprises can serve as sources to disseminate improved poultry breeds to rural communities;
  • Selecting poultry breeds that fit with the climatic and management environments of the rural settings is critical for the success and profitability of poultry enterprises;
  • Although day-old chicken are highly sensitive to cold temperature and commonly raised in areas where there is electricity, it is possible to raise them in areas where there is no electricity by using facilities (such as booder boxes) that can maintain suitable temperature; and
  • Engagement and active participation of relevant woreda and kebele stakeholders is very important for the success of youth-based rural poultry enterprise. 


    By Tesfaye Abebe, PhD, BENEFIT-REALISE Programme – Hawassa University cluster manager

  • REALISE HwU chicken house in Kutuambe



Vegetable production changing the lives of PSNP farmers in SNNPR Ethiopia

BENEFIT-REALISE Arba Minch University Cluster has been promoting nutrition sensitive agriculture since its inception in 2018. The programme has been supporting Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) beneficiaries by increasing awareness about the importance of nutrition, introducing agricultural technologies, setting up agricultural demonstrations, provision of vegetable seeds, technical support and trainings. The intervention was implemented in four woredas namely; Derashe, Mirab Abaya, Zalla and Kucha of SNNP region, benefiting 160 beneficiaries of which 50% are women and 80% (128) PSNP households.. The effort not only improved the nutritional status of households, but also became a source of income improving the food security of PSNP households. Recent assessment done on randomly selected female participants indicated that in addition to household consumption, they were able to earn 100- 1500Birr in a single production season.

In addition to distribution of provision of seed such as swiss chard, cabbage, beetroot, carrot, Ethiopian kale and 1600 papaya seedlings, food preparation demonstration was conducted to encourage consumption at the vegetables at home. The demonstration that took place in Arguba Tenaho kebele, Derashe Woreda, was a good opportunity to discussion the benefit of balanced diet and show others in the local community the value of the vegetable production.

Birtukan Bururo who lives with her husband and a daughter in Galta kebele said “I was one of the lucky once to be selected to try growing vegetable crops. The programme staff and local development agents brought us different vegetable seeds including beetroot, swiss chard, cabbage and papaya and taught us how to plant the seeds, what to use other inputs and how to care for them. Within a short time, I became a vegetable grower, started feeding my family different kinds of food with diverse nutrition and was able to earn 1500 birr from the sales of beetroot and swiss chard. That is big change and I want to say thank you to those who made this possible!”

Another successful example is related to orange-fleshed sweet potato, not very well known by the community prior to the intervention. The taste and color gained popularity among children and elders very fast. Following the high demand, farmers like Tadese Taye from Derashe woreda are already distributing the vine cuttings to the local community (for about 50 farmers) earning a lot of money, multiplying the rewarding effects of the effort.

Overall, the impact is already visible at many levels. The provision of seeds, training on management and production techniques, close follow up, mentoring and household visits is paying off. The community is aware of the nutritional value and potential benefits of vegetables and households are earning additional income, contributing to the overall food security and well being of the family.

BENEFIT-REALISE Lessons learned: ‘One Timad (0.25ha) package for PSNP households’, a way for food self-sufficiency and resilience building

BENEFIT-REALISE baseline study in the PSNP woredas indicated that productivity of wheat is about 1.6 tons/ha which is a fourth of the potential yield of improved wheat technologies released by the research system. And one of the challenges faced by PSNP households is the costly and unaffordable standardized extension package for wheat designed for 0.5 ha of land. In response the programme developed a wheat extension package for one timad (0.25 hectare) at a cost of 1000 birr (30 USD).

The one timad package was designed with three objectives in mind: (i) to downscale the package size of seed and fertilizer that match the need and capacity of PSNP households; (ii) to provide PSNP farmers access to improved practices through an interest free credit arrangement; and (iii) to minimize risk for farmers in taking up new technologies by introducing proven technologies at the right (small) scale, with adequate hands-on training and follow-up. The pilot also aims the show the need to customize extension packages that meets the need of PSNP farmers with small landholdings.

A total of 60 PSNP client households were selected from Tach Gayint and Enebise Sarmidir woredas to use improved wheat varieties, namely Tay and Qaqaba, with the recommended seed and fertilizer rate and improved agronomic practices on their 0.25ha of land. Small packages (13.5-15 kg) of NPSB fertilizer NPSB and small (12.5) packages of UREA were prepared according to the recommendations, and distributed on credit with cash repayment arrangements.

Yield gain and return on investment

Compared to the baseline and the kebele average productivity of 1.65 t/ha, the pilot in Tach Gayint woreda resulted in a yield of 3.5 t/ha, which is 118.75% increase in productivity of wheat when using compost together with the 1000-birr wheat technology package. It resulted in a yield of 2.53 t/ha, a 58.31% increase, using the 1000-birr package only (without compost). In Enebise Sarmidir woreda, the 1000-birr wheat technology package has resulted in 2.89 t/ha yield, 81.25% yield increase. The small 1000-birr package applied together with compost had the highest return on investment.

Return on investment

In Tach Gayint woreda farmers invested ETB 1662.78 and ETB 1750.66 in Enebise Sarmidir woreda for seed and fertilizer respectively to cover 0.25ha of land. For fertilizer application and planting in a row they used additional labour of two man-day and those who applied compost used an additional two man-day for transporting. The highest Net Return (NR) was obtained with a small package applied with compost followed by the package applied without compost.

Lessons learned

  1.  The small 1000 birr package of improved wheat technology proved to benefit PSNP farmers and similar interventions may result in higher return. The pilot was successful in encouraging farmers to use the recommended seed and fertilizer since it is less costly and the in-kind credit arrangement and suitable repayment period made it possible. The combined push of technology with the necessary hands-on training and follow up enhanced the confidence of the PSNP farmers. In addition, the yield increase on their 0.25ha assured calorie self-sufficiency.
  2. Initially the one timad package was designed for 1000 Birr investment considering that the inorganic fertilizer in the package would be supplemented by application of farm compost. But because of the late approval of the pilot, only 5 farmers in Tach Gayient prepared the farm compost. Hence, the farmers mostly applied inorganic fertilizers.
  3. Initially, there was low interest of stakeholders and participants which delayed process of obtaining legal approval for the down-scaled packaging of fertilizer and seed required.




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





BENEFIT-REALISE held its annual review and planning meeting

BENEFIT-REALISE held its annual review and planning meeting on Feb 11-13, 2020 at Nexus Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The first two days that included external stakeholders were devoted to reflect on 2019 accomplishments across 8 implementing clusters in four regions, review 2020 work plan, identify areas of collaboration, and agree on the mechanism of institutionalization. Over 50 participants, representing Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) at federal level, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ethiopia (EKN), Universities, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), INGOs, BENEFIT Partnership programme (REALISE, SBN, CASCAPE-CANAG, PCU) from Addis Ababa and WUR attended the meeting. The last day was devoted to revise 2020 plan based on feedback provided and for CLUM (cluster managers) meeting.

Following an introductory session, the programme management team presented 2019 accomplishments, challenges and lessons learned. It was highlighted key success factors for 2019 accomplishments were (i) strong stakeholders’ collaboration at national and regional levels (research, extension, PSNP, NGOs like GRAD, HELVATAS Ethiopia, World Vision etc); (ii) availability of knowledge and different technologies that can be tested for local adaptation (EIAR & RARIs); (iii) existence of knowledge, experience and expertise within BENEFIT programmes; (iv) interest of farmers to use improved agricultural technologies; and (v) team work and commitment of programme staff.

Major challenges raised in 2019 implementation period included late onset, shortage and unpredictable nature of rainfall, pest problem (fall armyworm and locust), shortage of quality seeds for some crops/or varieties, lack of well-established RuSACCo and the fact that many of PSNP beneficiaries are resource poor (landlessness, lack of capital for inputs esp. FHHs). Sufficient time was allocated to discuss on common challenges and possible solutions the programme should consider in the coming year.

The second day was devoted to hearing 2020 plans, that focus on demonstration, pre-scaling and scaling support, woreda plan support, strengthening linkages between seed producers, service providers and markets, provision of evidences to policy makers (policy dialogue, in-depth study report), presentations of evidence-based programme results, developing better strategies for effective engagement of youth in the target woredas, documentation and sharing, and institutionalization process.


  1. BENEFIT-REALISE 2019 achievements, focus on 2020’ by Remko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator from WUR
  2. 2019 progress and objective of the workshop by Dr. Mulugeta Diro, BENEFIT-REALISE Deputy Manager
  3. Segmentation for customized extension: REALISE experience” was given by Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager
  4. “Extension System in Ethiopia: Refection on current challenges, current reforms and changes, extension package formulation and targeting” was given by Dr. Chimdo Anchala, Senior Director of Production & Productivity, Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA)
  5. “Resilient Seed System: The case of PSNP/REALISE beneficiaries” by Dr. Mulugeta Diro, BENEFIT-REALISE Deputy Manager
  6. “Seed Security for Food Security” by Dr. Amsalu Ayana, BENEFIT ISSD Manager
  7. “Food Security: Consideration for BENEFIT-REALISE” by Ramko Remko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator

The participants had an opportunity to discuss the value of segmentation in the extension system, how to critically evaluate our intervention’s contribution verses target reaching, meaningful collaboration, training best practices, farmer targeting in scaling activities, target for yield increase, beneficiary reporting, staff retention, seed availability, and strengthening platforms to share experiences that will ultimately contribute to PSNP HHs self-sufficiency.

Promoting Best Fit Practices in Crop Production: The case of BENEFIT-REALISE Mekelle Univesity

The BENEFIT-REALISE programme aims to improve food and nutrition security and build resilience of targeted Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) households. The
programme that started in 2018 works with eight Ethiopian universities as implementing partners, spread across four regional states of Ethiopia – one of them Mekelle University Cluster in Tigray.

The attached brief presents a summary of major activities, testimonies and lessons learned from BENEFIT-RELALISE Mekelle University Cluster experience in 2019. It highlights activities implemented in crowdsourcing, Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS), validation, demonstration, nutrition, pre-scaling, seed multiplication etc. While acknowledging the successes achieved so far this paper also highlights key lesson learned in the implementation process to encourage learning, contributing to knowledge management process to improve further efforts in similar innovations and efforts.

BENEFIT-REALISE held Regional Annual Review and Planning Workshops

BENEFIT-REALISE Programme conducted annual review and planning workshops in  four regions: Tigray (Mekelle University cluster), Amhara (Bahir Dar and Woldia University clusters), Oromia (Arsi, Haramaya and Oda Bultum University clusters) and SNNP (Arba Minch and Hawassa University clusters) of Ethiopia. The eight REALISE University clusters organized the workshops in their respective regions from January 23-February 1, 2020. The objective of these workshops were to create a forum for REALISE to review the performance of 2019 activities and present 2020 work plan for the upcoming budget year. The workshops were relevant to learn about the status of the program, receive feedback to refine 2020 plan and agree on way forward decisions. In attendance were officials from the Regional Bureaus of Agriculture and Zonal and Woreda Offices of Agriculture, Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) of each region, Regional Agricultural Research Institutes and Centers, Affiliate Universities and their respective program’s,  institutional advisors, BENEFIT-REALISE National Program Management Unit team and Cluster Managers and experts.

Detailed reports on the performance of planned activities for 2019, major achievements, challenges faced and lessons learnt were presented. Plenary discussions were conducted on the reports to clarify issues and answer questions raised by stakeholders. In addition, presentations on the 2020 work plan were made by the clusters  and feedback was provided through group discussion with stakeholders.

On conclusion, since 2020 is the last year of implementation for REALISE consensus was reached to focus on documentation of evidence, institutionalization and sustainability to ensure that the lessons learned and evidence generated by the program will be integrated in the formal government operations.

Improved Potato Variety Demonstration Trail Changing the Lives of PSNP Farmers: BENEFIT-REALISE Arba Minch University (AMU)

Ashke Ena, a destitute 35 year-old widow and mother of five children was one of PSNP farmers selected for the BENEIT-REALISE Arba Minch University potato demonstration trail in Bola, Kutcha woreda. Even though she owns 0.125ha of land, she always struggled to feed her family and has been dependent on PSNP for years. Based on the finding of 2018 PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) study, one of the 2019 BENEFIT-REALISE AMU cluster interventions focused on introducing two improved potato varieties with an aim to minimize food gap months and improve the livelihood of the surrounding PSNP farmers. The intervention was successful in closing existing food gaps of selected PSNP farmers, giving them an opportunity to think beyond consumption to selling their produce to earn an income.

The intervention started by setting target criteria for farmer selection process that was shared with the woreda experts. The programme also provided 1qt of each improved potato variety, 0.25 quintal NPS and 0.25 quintal urea for the demonstration trails. With close collaboration with the woreda agronomists, the selected farmers were taught on appropriate agronomic practices to plant Belete variety on 0.0625 ha and Gudene variety 0.0625 ha. The land was prepared in March and row planting was done in April. The first-round weeding took place 15 days after planting and the second in May.

All the hard work paid off and Ashke was able to harvest 44.6 quintals from Belete variety and 33.4 quintals from Gudene variety, a total of 78 quintals. Askhe is very happy with the outcome. With a smile she said, “I earned 26,439Birr (input cost covered by the project) from my produce. With my new income I can make sure there is always food at home, and was able to even send money to my son for graduation. I am ready to replant some of my potatoes next year, applying all what I have learned. TOSA GELETA! Meaning Thank God!” Prior to harvest, farmers from different kebeles visited her farm to see the performance of the varieties and discuss lesson learned in the implementation process.

In addition, following BENEFIT-REALISE key objective of developing best fit practices towards increasing productivity and resilience, BENEFIT-REALISE experts collected necessary data throughout the implementation period to document evidences, address existing challenges (e.g. bacterial wilt, and pest) and influence farming practices for scaling in selected PSNP woredas.

BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University Field Day on Layer Poultry Farming and Sheep Fattening Interventions

On January 16, 2020, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University (WDU) Cluster held a field day to showcase the contribution of small scale layer poultry farming and small ruminant (sheep) fattening interventions in youth employment and building PSNP households resilience in North Wollo, Amhara Region. The field day was relevant to better understand the different components that contributed to the success of the interventions and discuss how to ensure continuity of the effort to reach more youth and PSNP beneficiaries.

The interventions were conducted in two woredas (Wadila and Habru) engaging 16 youths (8 male and 8 female) on layer poultry farming and 16 women in ram (male sheep) fattening. Recognizing PSNP HH’s poor resource status, the programme worked in collaboration with RUSACO, providing revolving fund to support the farmers through credit to run the activities. This was done to minimize dependency syndrome associated with aid and reach more farmers over time with the limited available fund. Through this credit scheme, the programme provided 50 pullets from Nicos Private Poultry Farm in Mersa town to each or the 16 youth, materials to construct the chicken house, feed for the first three months and training on poultry care and management.  In relation to the fattening intervention, the programme provided 5 sheep and training on sheep care and fattening to each of the 16 women selected for the intervention.

The field visit demonstrated, within a short time (3 months), both interventions have become profitable businesses that can contribute to improving the lives of PSNP HHs by increasing their household income towards ensuring their food security and building their resilience.

Kidest Aynachew, who participated in sheep fattening activity said, “I used to depend on selling ‘Tela’ a local alcoholic drink and support from the PSNP programme. After the BENEFIT REALISE Wolida University gave me 5 sheep and taught me how to construct a place for them, how to fatten them and keep them healthy, in just three month I was able to earn 4000 birr. I started saving money so that I can buy more sheep to fatten and sell.”

Derebew Alene, who was engaged in poultry farming, is also very happy with the result. He said “Out of the 50 chickens I have, 35 are already laying eggs, and I am getting about 120birr each day. I was very happy with the result. I have already started paying my loan to RUSACO and plan to expand even more.”

The field day was attended by over 40 participants including Daikon Tesfa Batabil, Head of North Wollo Zone Department of Agriculture, Dr. Solomon Abegaz, Vice President of Woldia University Research and Community Service, representatives from Sirinka Agricultural Research Center Livestock Research Directorate, North Wollo Zone Livestock Agency, woreda livestock and cooperative offices, Development Agents (DAs), RUSACO members, beneficiary youths and women.

Woldia livestock fattening picture

woldia livestock field day layer chicken picture

BENEFIT-REALISE WDU to establish a mung bean platform in Amhara region

On December 21, 2019, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University (WDU) Cluster held a multi-stakeholders consultative workshop on mung bean value chain to review the success of the programme in mung bean technology demonstration, discuss its relevance in the region, share experiences in innovation platform and establish a mung bean platform to address challenges in the mung bean value chain. The workshop was relevant to bring key stakeholders together to better understand the current status of mung bean production and management in the country and decide on steps to establish a mung bean platform where challenges find solutions towards creating mung bean revolution in the Amhara region.

The morning sessions and presentations were on the current status of mung bean production in the country, the major challenges in relation mung bean production and management in the value chain and understanding quality parameters for the international market. The discussion that followed covered issues related to exploiting the nutritional value of mung bean by designing food preparation trainings; the role of extension in addressing issues related to agronomic practices and the need to work with cooperatives and unions to address seed and market issues.

In the afternoon, the presentations and discussions were more forward looking into the value of setting up a mung bean platform and agree on members, their roles and responsibilities, and actions to follow. One of the presentations focused on learning from BENEFIT-ENTAG’s experiences on setting objectives, approaches and key performance indicators the programme uses to evaluate its success. The opportunity to link the platform with the recently established Pulse Council to maximize their value was discussed.

The afternoon sessions also included reviewing BENEFIT-REALISE mung bean technology demonstration, scaling up and seed production plan for 2020.

Presentations included

  1. An overview of BENEIT-REALISE 2019 activities and accomplishments by Dr. Baye Berihun, BENEFIT-REALISE WED Cluster Manager
  2. “Status of mung bean production and management” by Dr. Birhanu Amsalu Fenta, National Lowland Pulse Research Program Coordinator from Melkasa Research Center
  3. ECX national and global quality parameters for mung beans international market by Guesh G/Meskel from Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), Kombolcha Branch
  4. Experiences and challenges of multi-stakeholders platform in North Eastern Amhara, by Tamirat Tesfaye, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU cluster Agronomist
  5. “Sector Platform Establishment and Facilitation” by Helen Getaw, BENEFIT-ENTAG Deputy Manager

The workshop was attended by over 50 participants including Deputy Head of Regional Bureau of Agriculture Dr. Solomon Assefa, Woldia University President Dr. Abebe Girma, National lowland Pulse Research Program Coordinator Dr. Birhanu Amsalu Fanta, and representatives from Sirinka Agricultural Research Center, Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), extension experts, Development Agents (DAs), BENEFIT management, Dr. Tewodros Tefera (REALISE) and Helen Getaw (ENTAG) and other relevant staff members.

For more information on BENEFIT-REALISE go to


BENEFIT-REALISE Arsi cluster is conducting an in-depth study on rural youth employment

As part of its youth interventions, BENEFIT-REALISE programme designed pilot interventions and in-depth studies to generate evidence and compile lessons to inform  policy making/ revision decisions as well as the design of youth interventions. One of the planned activities is an in-depth study on youth interventions to be conducted by Arsi University Cluster, targeting two kebeles in Zeway Dugda and two kebleles in Negelle Arsi woredas. The study will be informed by primary data gathered through key informant interviews and focus group discussions with community members as well as relevant stakeholders.

Prior to field level data collection, a workshop was conducted on December 12 -13, 2019 to better understand the processes involved in qualitative research (data collection, transcription, coding, categorizing, data reduction, analysis and report writing); agree on the sampling frame and sample size; review the checklists for in-depth interview and focus group discussions and agree on the way forward. The research team composed of seven participants from BENEFIT-REALISE Arsi Cluster, Kulumsa Research Center, Woreda Food Security Office participated in the workshop. The workshop that was facilitated by an independent consultant included practical exercises that helped further refine the research methodology and build common understanding on the research process.  The findings of the research as expected at the of February 2020.


Senior advisors of BENEFIT-REALISE programme held experience sharing visit to Rwanda

rawanda visit benefit realise pic 3Ethiopian higher officials who are senior advisors of BENEFIT-REALISE programme at national level conducted experience sharing visit to Rwanda on December 9-13 2019. The visit was led by his H.E Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister, MoA, heading the Natural Resources and Food Security Sector and consisted of Dr. Mandefro Nigussie, Director General of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and W/ro Yenenesh Egu, Director of Agricultural Extension, MoA. The three higher officials have been working as national senior advisors of BENEFIT-REALISE programme. The advisors were accompanied by three BENEFIT-REALISE programme management team members.

Rawanda visit benefit realise pic2The visit was organized by BENEFIT-REALISE programme in consultation with Rwanda Cooperation Initiative. The objective of the visit was to learn from Rwanda experiences and contribute to Ethiopian institutional capacity building targeted by the programme. To achieve objective of the visit, the team visited and discussed with Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources, Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Rwanda Cooperation Initiative (RCI), the Netherlands Embassy to Rwanda, Ethiopian Embassy to Rwanda, and Bank of Kigali in Kigali. The delegation visited a potato value chain in Musanze district of Northern Province and soil conservation terraces in Ngororero district of Western province.

Experiences on potato value chain, supported by Bank of Kigali in credit supply for inputs in non-cash approach and the interface of agricultural research and extension are good experiences, among others, that Ethiopian delegate would consider. The home grown solution called Imihigo has helped Rwanda to change the long standing political, social and economic challenges it faced.  Imihigo is a cultural practice in which an individual sets himself targets to be achieved within a specific period of time. For the near future, teams were established from both countries to identify areas where the countries can learn from each other through well planned exchange visits.

BENEFIT-REALISE BDU conducted two farmers’ field days on improved wheat and potato technologies

BENEFIT-REALISE Bahir Dar University (BDU) Cluster held field days on wheat production technologies in Enebsie Sar Midir (ESM) Woreda, and improved potato technologies in Lay Gaint Woreda on August 19 and October 12, 2019 respectively. The field days were organized in collaboration with woreda offices.

The visit in ESM woreda showcased wheat production technologies including 1000 Birr bread wheat small seed pack pilot, bread wheat PVS and demonstration of improved bread wheat technologies. The field day in Lay Gaint Woreda was organized to showcase the performance of Belete variety potato.

The visits attracted close to 300 participants, representing PSNP and non-PSNP farmers, high level officials from hosting woreda administration offices, Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) Bureau of Agriculture, ANRS Disaster Prevention and Food Security Programme Coordination office, NGOs (FH and Vita), universities’ community service and research officials (Debre Tabor University, BDU and Debre Makose Universities), Amhara Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) and Adet Agricultural Research Center, Office of Cooperative Promotion, union officials (Guna and Motta), local potato seed producer association, agriculture experts, woreda communication office, kebele development agents, and BENEFIT programmes.

Pre-scaling of bread wheat featured at BENEFIT-REALISE WDU cluster field day

On 1st of November 2019, BENEFIT-REALISE Woldia University Cluster (WDU) organized a one day field visit to showcase the successes achieved in pre-scaling of bread wheat (Ogolcho) in North Wollo Zone, Amhara Region. The delegation visited 23ha clustered wheat farm in Meket Woreda, where 60 PSNP farmers (55 men and 5 women) were engaged in improved bread wheat pre-scaling activity to increase wheat production towards improving food security in the area. The field visit that was followed by stakeholders’ discussion was attended by over 50 officials and experts including North Wollo Zonal Administration Head, N. Wollo Bureau of Agriculture Head, Sirinka Agricultural Research Centre (SARC) experts, Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) Deputy Director, Woldia University Community Service and Research, extension workers, BENEFIT-REALISE staff and the media.

The visit started with a welcoming remark by Berhanu Terefe, Woreda Office of Agriculture r Head and Woldetensa Mekonnon, Zonal Administration Head. They both appreciated the programme’s efforts in introducing new improved bread wheat varieties and good agricultural practices that is transforming wheat production in the area. That was followed by a brief remark by Baye Getahun, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU Cluster Manager, who gave an overview of the programme activities in Amhara region and the collaboration between SARC and the woreda BoA that made this activity a success.

The pre-scaling activity started with consultations with the Woreda office of Agriculture (WoA) responsible for clustering smallholder farmers and SARC for identify improved varieties that are optimal for Meket Wordas. Upon the recommendation of SARC, the programme acquired the improved seed that has a potential to produce 52-60quintals per ha (research trial) and distributed it among 60 PSNP farmers. The programme also provided best agronomic practices trainings and technical support throughout the season in collaboration with the woreda and Kebele office of Agriculture.

BENEFIT-REALISE woldia university farmer Ennana.jpgDuring the field visit, the group heard testimonies from farmers who benefited from the pre-scaling activity. Ennana Muchaye said “So far the variety looks good. We have learned new things like row planting, use of recommended fertilizer and the need to weed three times. It started slow at first but grew very fast and it looks like we will be getting good yield.”

Another issue that was raised repeatedly related to wheat rust and other diseases that is continuously undermining the wheat production in the area. Tamirat Tesfaye, BENEFIT-REALISE WDU Agronomist said, “The area is susceptible to fungal disease such as Yellow Rust and Take-all disease affecting the roots of the crop. These are mostly caused by excessive rain the mono-cropping practice of the farmers in the area. In addition to introdWoldia disucssion pic1.jpgucing new disease-resistant varieties more work should be done in applying good agronomic practices, such as extensive weed control and introduce crop rotation where possible.”  Other issues discussed included the need for close follow-up to ensure farmers follow the trainings provided and tasks needed to increase the crop suitability to be used as seed for the next season.

At the end of the visit, a meeting was held to share BENEFIT-REALISE 2019 activities and discuss the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in increasing bread wheat production in the region. The workshop was a great opportunity to discuss exiting challenges related to quality seed demand and supply, seed multiplication, use of pesticide to address crop disease challenge and soil acidity and fertility. The participants also discussed opportunities in pre-scaling improved variety potato, following the successful demonstration of the programme.

The Woreda BoA Administrator and Zonal Administration Head appreciated BENEFIT-REALISE’s efforts that are creating enabling environments to resolve key issues related to getting technologies to farmers. BENEFIT-REALISE Manager, Dr. Tewodros Tefera on his part noted the need to identify crop and technology game changers and talked about the programme’s 2020 plan that will focus on working with agricultural research centers and offices of Agriculture to address existing seed issues through joint validation, commodity clustering and pre-scaling activities. Woldia University Community Service and Research Deputy Head Dr. Solomon closed the discussion by thanked all for attending and emphasized the relevance of strengthening the link between Office of Agriculture, research and the university to better understand the roles and responsibilities of each to increase wheat production in Amhara region, contributing towards making Ethiopia wheat self-sufficient.

Pre-scaling of new improved maize variety showcased at BENEFIT-REALISE Oda Bultum University field day

On September 20, 2019, close to a 100 people representing farmers, government officials, university heads, researchers, extension workers, NGOs,, cooperative/union, BENEFIT agricultural experts (REALISE and ISSD) gathered in Oda Bultum (Kara Kebele) to visit the recent success achieved by BENEFIT-REALISE in introducing new improved variety of maize with production practices through its pre-scaling activity. The field day organized by Oda Bultum University, the programme implementing partner, was a success to create awareness of the new improved variety, get expert insight on its performance, understand BENEFIT-REALISE pre-scaling approach and discuss the roles of stakeholders to reach more farmers for sustainable change.

The field visit started with a welcoming remark from the project focal person, Mustefa Abdulkadir and an opening remark from Oda Bultum University President, H.E. Dr. Muktar Mohammed. Dr. Muktar in his remark appreciated the close working relation between the university research and community service directorate and the programme and highlighted the need to strengthen the collaboration to improve the livelihoods of food insecure farmers in the surrounding area. Following, an overview of the programme by BENEFIT-REALISE Deputy Manager, Dr. Mulugeta Diro, the group was guided to visit farm clusters where BENEFIT-REALISE introduced BH-540 maize variety. The event included exhibition of local food made from maize and poster presentation on the Cluster 2019 activities.

Based on the findings of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) conducted in 2018, the Oda Bultum University has been carrying out different on-farm demonstration and pre-scaling activities in 2019 to address major challenges related to lack of access to improved crop technology.  The cluster reached 224 farmers through pre-scaling of maize production technologies, for which the farmers field day has been organized.

A clustering approach (7-10 farmers per cluster) was used for pre-scaling to facilitate the training and management process. The approach was found useful to increase interaction of farmers and create a fertile learning environment.

Mohammed Adem, a 32 year PSNP beneficiary selected for the pre-scaling activity said “I did not know about this variety, and even if I did I would not have been able to afford it or know where to get it from. So I really appreciate the programme provided seed along with training.  And the training and close follow up visits taught me new practices I can use to get maximum performance from my crop. From my 0.25 ha I am expecting to get 10 -15 quintals. I am planning to use half of it to meet the needs of my family and children and invest the remaining in buying the best seed and other inputs for the next season. Now, I am in a better position, in terms of capital and knowledge that will allow me to invest, save and grow. If next year is as good I won’t need any more support from the government safety net programme.”

During the PRA exercise, one of the issues raised by PSNP farmers was the fact that less attention is given to PSNP farmers in introduction of new technologies. It was noted that the government uses model farmers who are  capable to invest on full packages to introduce new varieties and technologies. That is why, even though the programme focus is on PSNP farmers, a conscious decision was made to include 20% non-PSNP farmers in most of the programme interventions. Working with both groups will give insight on the responsiveness of both groups if given the same opportunity.

Eyobe Asrat .jpgEyob Asrat, a young non-PSNP farmer is happy with the progress he is seeing so far. He said “The new variety is better since it takes only three month to mature, while the local variety takes four. It is also bigger than the local which means higher yield. From my 0.25ha I am expecting to get 12-15 quintals, which means better income allowing me to invest on my farm even more than I was able to do before. If we are able to access these improved varieties regularly there is no reason why we can’t earn more changing our lives for the better.”

The participants also had an opportunity to see and compare four new varieties introduced by MoA. Even though there are already notable differences in terms of plant vigour, cob size, etc most agree it is too early to tell which will perform the best in terms of yield. The farmers highlighted what makes the programme intervention different is (i) provision of seed,; (ii) training in agronomic practices and the close follow up from experts to ensure farmers get maximum benefit from the introduced variety; and (iv) market linkage with the nearby union to buy the maize.

During the discussion, the participants appreciated the level of success achieved within such a short period of time. Representatives noted this kind of collaboration is relevant to ensure new varieties that are coming out from research centers reach farmers on time. The participants also raised and discussed issues related to market, the possibility of reaching more farmers with similar efforts, preference for open pollinated vs hybrid varieties, validating other recent varieties such and BH-549, how to link with PSNP efforts for further scaling and how to link with seed producers for the coming season etc.

In addition to its pre-scaling activities, BENEFIT-REALISE Oda Bultum University activities in 2019 included on-farm demonstration of Desho grass technologies under soil bunds, demonstration of fruit and vegetable technologies in home garden areas, on-farm demonstration of Papaya technology, demonstration of food type common bean technologies, demonstration of highland sorghum, pre-scaling of early maturing and striga resistant sorghum technology, re-scaling of chickpea technology, among others.


BENEFIT-REALISE HwU field day featured newly introduced improved faba bean and maize varieties

On October 5, 2019, BENEFIT-RELAISE Hawassa University (HwU) Cluster organized a high-level field day to showcase the success achieved through its pre-scaling of improved Maize (BF 661) and validation of Faba bean varieties in Bona Zuria woreda, Sidama Zone. The visit was attended by more than a hundred  people representing zonal, regional and woreda levels government officials (administration, BOA and Food security and PSNP offices), university heads, deans and directors (both from Hawassa University and Arba Minich University), researchers from Southern Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), extension workers, BENEFIT management (Addis Ababa and WUR) and BENEFIT agricultural experts (REALISE and ISSD). The field day organized by HwU in collaboration with the SNNP and Sidama zone Agricultural offices was a successful event to evaluate the performance of newly improved varieties, better understand BENEFIT-REALISE pre-scaling and validation approaches and discuss scaling possibilities and way-forward for the programme’s 2020 activities.

The welcoming remark by Oliye Odula, Bona Zuria Woreda Administration Deputy Head highlighted the relevance of the programme that started with an overall aim to address the challenges of the poorest of the poor farmers in the country – PSNP supported farmers. In his opening speech, Ato Daniel Damtew, Deputy Head of Bureau of Agriculture, started by talking about the long standing relation of the bureau with BENEFIT-CASCAPE programme (REALISE sister organization under BENEFIT Partnership) and HwU (implementing partner of CASAPE and REALISE). He mentioned the successes achieved in introducing and scaling malt barley production in Sidama Zone and he expressed his excitement on the potential of working with BENEFIT-REALISE to improve the livelihoods of PSNP beneficiaries in the area.

Dr. Tewodros Tefera, BENEFIT-REALISE Manager gave an overview of the programme and emphasized the need to work together to reach more farmers and positively influence institutional direction to address the twine challenges of PSNP farmers: closing food gap months and improving dietary diversity. He thanked Mr. Ramko Vonk, BENEFIT-REALISE Coordinator, WUR, who played a big role in initiating and starting the programme in Ethiopia. Dr. Tesfaye Abebe, HwU Cluster Manager thanked all for taking time to attend this event and give an overview of the cluster 2019 activities that is currently reaching 1,260 farmers. Their speech was followed by poster presentation on the cluster 2019 activities.

The field visits showcased validation of four faba bean varieties and pre-scaling of improved maize variety (BF H661) at Malgano Seda Kebele Farmer Training Center (FTC) and three farmer fields selected for the trials and pre-scaling activity. While visiting the FTC, Mrs. Wogayehu Derese, Crop Development expert of Bona district agricultural office and Focal Person of BENEFIT-REALISE HwU cluster, explained the processes involved in pre-scaling of maize and validation of improved faba bean varieties. Regarding prescaling of maize she indicated that “Training was given to development agents and farmers on proper agronomic practices of maize, after which the programme provided 3.25 kg of seed of maize BH 661 variety to each of the selected 150 farmers in three kebeles. In total 80% of the farmers were PSNP beneficiaries. Each farmer planted the seed on 0.125 ha of his/her land (the seed rate is 25 kg of maize per hectare). The programme didn’t supply fertilizer to the farmers, but they applied NPS (at the rate of 100 kg per ha) and Urea (split application at the rate of 200 kg per hectare) from their own sources”.  One of the participating farmers named Mulatu Debisso mentioned that he plowed his field three times before sowing the maize and weeding was done twice. He added that he was getting 50-65 quintals of maize per hectare, but now he expects to get at least 80 quintal of maize per hectare, ie. 10 quintals from his plot of 0.125 ha (1/8th of a hectare).

In regards to validation of improved faba bean varieties, Wogayehu indicated that a total of 20 farmers were involved in two kebeles in addition to the two FTCs. Four improved varieties namely, Dosha, Degaga, Gabalcho and Tumsa and one local variety were planted on the plots of 20 farmers and two FTCs. At each farm/FTC 0.125 ha of land was allotted for the five varieties, ie. 250m2 of land for each variety. NPS fertilizer at the rate of 100 kg per hectare and Biofertilizer (at the rate of 500 gm per ha.) were applied to the trials. The seeding rate was at the rate of 150 kg per hectare.

REALISE HwU Bekele Bedasa pic faba beanBekele Bedasa a 26 year old PSNP beneficiary farmer of 3 children said, “As you can see all new faba bean varieties are doing better than the local, especially one is performing very well. The local variety, the pods usually start from the 6th node, with the new varieties it started from the 3rd node, which means the stem holds more pods which means higher yield. But we still have two months to go before we know the yield performance.” Bekele is already inviting others to see the better performing varieties and is already getting offers for the seed for the next cropping season. All are eager to see which variety will be selected based on criteria set by the farmers themselves.

The group was also excited to see the performance of the new maize variety. The 3-4 meter high thick stem is an indication of a crop that has a high yield potential and biomass.

REALISE HwU maize field pic

Overall the validation of Faba bean was done at 4 FTCs and plots of 40 farmers and pre-scaling of improved maize was implemented at 3 FTCs and 150 farmers.

Following the field visit, a general discussion was held where all participants including farmers were given an opportunity to reflect on what they have seen, ask questions and suggest way forward in future activities and scale up efforts. The discussion was facilitated by the Sidama Zone MOA Head, Letta Legesse and BENEFIT-REALISE Manager Dr. Tewodros Tefera. In general, there was a high level of appreciation for the work well done and most recognized the activities potential to address the food security issues in the area. Farmers noted that the effort is making them think beyond consumption and are ready to work hard to change their lives. Ato Ganta Gemea, Regional Disaster Risk Management Commissioner appreciated the work done in such short period of time and stated the scalability potential towards closing the food gap in the area. Other discussion topics related to the value of using FTCs as learning ground, engaging more women, work needed on package optimization and efficient use of resources, accessibility of seed for the coming season, strengthening job creation opportunities, hybrid versus open pollinated seeds, and the possibly of producing more than one time a year.

At the end, Ato Leta thanked all for organizing this field day which is relevant to facilitate learning at different levels. He urged all to work hard to take it further to ensure more farmers benefit from this effort. Mr Remko thanked all for their hard work to make the progamme a success and appreciated the potential of the activities that are set out to address two of the biggest issues in the area – closing the food gap and improving the nutritional status of households.

In addition to validation of faba bean varieties and pre-scaling of improved maize variety, BENEFIT-REALISE HUC activities in 2019 included intercropping of maize with haricot bean, demonstration of OPV maize varieties, introduction of Irish potato, Participatory Variety Selection (haricot ben, sorghum, teff and finger millet), promotion of nutrition sensitive agriculture (demonstration of quality protein maize and backyard vegetable production), introduction of labor saving technology (enset scraper and squeezer), grafted seedling production of improved avocado and mango, Crowdsourcing (haricot bean, teff and sorghum), piloting poultry production for scalable youth employment, piloting oil and charcoal from eucalyptus for youth employment and in-depth study on community nutrition: problems and opportunities. The BENEFIT-REALISE HwU cluster directly addressed 1260 households in its different interventions, out of which 38% were female. When the number of trained partners and indirect beneficiaries are considered, the total number of participants in 2019 has been over 6000 households.

REALISE HwU group discussion pic

MOA and BENEFIT-REALISE signed a MOU to conduct soil characterization and mapping

Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Natural Resources and Food Security Sector, and the Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) Partnership signed a MoU to conduct soil classification and mapping for BENEFIT-REALISE pilot woredas.  Soil Information and Mapping Directorate under the State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security will collaborate with BENEFIT partnership (REALISE programme) on preparation and sustainable use of soils and recommendation maps.

The Ministry, through its Soil Information and Mapping Directorate and Extension Directorate, will support soil characterization and mapping in 18 PSNP/REALISE woredas and recommendation mapping in five PSNP/REALISE woredas. The Ministry will also work towards uptake of the approaches for soils and recommendation mapping, which will finally be owned by the Ministry.

BENEFIT will be responsible for coordinating and serving as a secretary for the taskforce established for this purpose; avail necessary budget; provide training and guidance on soil characterizing and mapping with the support from ISRIC; provide training on recommendation mapping with support from WUR; and share data as per data sharing policy requirement.

In relation to event organization roles and responsibilities will be agreed case by case depending on the event. Budget allocation and management will be handed by BENEFIT- REALISE.

The specific outputs agreed upon include (i) providing training and build the capacity of  local experts in soil characterization and recommendation mapping; (ii) producing soil maps of 18 PSNP/REALISE woredas at scale of 1:50,000; (iii) pilot use of recommendation maps in five woredas for scaling of agricultural technologies; (iv) provide training and mapping manuals; and (v) organize handover workshop.

The MoU provides a framework within which all collaborative activities will be initiated and undertaken, and will be effective until 2020. It was signed by H.E. Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security and Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT Manager.

Field Visits to BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster operational areas

BENEFIT-REALISE Hawassa University Cluster held two field visits to promote the programme interventions, on maize-haricot bean intercropping practices and introduction of new improved potato and faba bean varieties in Kachabira woreda.  The filed visits and discussions took place on September 4 in Kachabira woreda and on 27th of September in Siliti woreda. The events were valuable to (i) promote intercropping to improve productivity, soil fertility and nutrition of households; (ii) demonstrate the performance of new improved potato and faba bean varieties; (iii) share knowledge among key stakeholders; (iii) collect feedback from partners and beneficiary farmers; and (iv) promote BENEFIT-REALISE programme interventions. The events contribute to BENEFIT-REALISE crop and forage production and management pathway.

In Silti woreda, the method of row maize-haricot bean intercropping is new to 90% of the farmers.  Considering that 80% of the land is covered with maize, incorporating bean in the intercropping practice will contribute towards improving food and nutrition security. The visits were valuable to increase the understanding of the surrounding small holder farmers on the benefits of intercropping and to consider it as a viable option to maximize yield from their land. The intervention is also expected to improve dietary diversity and reduce the application of artificial fertilizers by using natural processes such a nitrogen fixation and application of inoculants. The introduction of new improved potato variety in Kachabira woreda is also expected to increase access to seed tubers of improved potato varieties and facilitate seed exchange among farmers.

Both events show that using high yielding and adaptable crops, improved agronomic practices and improved varieties contribute to reducing food gap months of PSNP households by increasing yield.

The Silit intervention was visited by over 60 participants while the Kachabira woreda gathered over 45 participants representing Zonal and Woreda level high government officials from Agriculture and Food Security Offices,  agriculture experts and extension workers, and PSNP farmers from nearby kebeles and  woredas. During the visit, briefing on demonstration and yield advantages and agronomic practices were provided.

Overall the farmers expressed their appreciation of the new practices and new varieties introduced and expressed their interest in trying new root and tuber crops and OPV maize. Zonal and Woreda officials agreed to work with the programme on pre-scaling the practices to the surrounding areas. In the coming year, the programme will put emphasis in strengthening seed supply of selected varieties specific to the areas. HU intercropping pic



A study on local level rainfall and temperature variability in drought-prone districts in Ethiopia

A study on “Local level rainfall and temperature variability in drought-prone districts of rural Sidama, central rift valley region of Ethiopia” was published in June 2019. It was co-written by Tafesse Matewosa (Institute of Policy and Development Research (IPDR), Hawassa University Ethiopia, and NMBU, Norway) and  Tewodros Tefera (School of Environment, Gender and Development Studies (SEGDS), Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia). Dr. Tewodros Tefera (PhD) is currently BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager and Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics.

The study used 129 gridded monthly rainfall and temperature data of 32 years (1983–2014). The gridded rainfall and temperature records were encoded into GIS software and evaluated through different statistical and geospatial techniques. Mann-Kendal rank test and F distribution tests were used to test temporal and spatial statistical significance, respectively, of the data. The analysis revealed that Belg and Kiremt are the main rainfall seasons, constituting 81% of the annual rainfall. Although annual, Kiremt, and Belg rainfall amounts appear to have decreased over time, the decreasing trend is statistically significant only for Belg rainfall records. On the other hand, rainfall standard anomaly results indicated seven droughts of different magnitudes: one extreme, two severe, and four moderate. The study also revealed increasing temperature trends over the years under consideration that are statistically significant. The findings of this study on rainfall contradict other findings obtained around the study area. Thus, climate change adaptations need to focus on location-specific climate data analysis so that the intended adaptive interventions can be successful. [download the study here]


BENEFIT-REALISE conducted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training

BENEFIT-REALISE Programme conducted a training on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) from August 13-15, 2019 at Dallol Hotel, Adama. The training was attended by 24 participants, mostly composed of REALISE Cluster experts working on seed, agronomy and scaling up of best fit practices. Two of the participants were invited from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. IPM was selected following a stakeholders and REALISE cluster experts training needs assessment. The purpose of the training was to build the understanding of experts on types of major diseases and insect pests of crops, their causes, diagnosis and management options.

The training included field level experience sharing from REALISE clusters and the Ministry of Agriculture, lectures, questions and discussion session, group work and field excursion.

The lectures were given by Professor Emana Getu, a Professor of Entomology at Addis Ababa University and Dr. Fikre Handoro, who was a Senior Pathologist at Southern Agricultural Research Institute.  Principles and use of IPM was the central focus of the training. To ensure the safety of human beings and that of the environment, it was clearly discussed and consensus built that BENEFIT-REALISE programme uses and promotes IPM where use of commercial pesticides comes as a last option. The plenary discussions focused on ground level insect pest and diseases that the clusters are facing and recommended courses of action to address the problems. During group work session cluster experts developed an Integrated Pest Management strategy to address priority diseases and insect pests problems in their specific context.

On August 15, 2019, a field visit was arranged to visit Melkassa Agricultural Research Center to see disease and pest problems and their symptoms on crop stands and discuss with resource persons. This greatly helped the participants to understand the nature of insect pests and diagnose diseases. The field excursion also included a visit to Eteya Farmers Service Center, a private agro dealer supplying different pesticides (herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), liquid fertilizers, farm tools and other farm related services to farmers in Eteya Woreda and the surrounding areas. Here, participants were able to discuss with the manager of the service center, see chemical spraying gears, appropriate storage facilities, proper labeling of packages, and the like.

Overall, the training was successful as it provided an appropriate forum to discuss different crop insect pests and disease problems at cluster level and the recommended course of action to address them. Participants acknowledged that the training was needed and relevant as it helps them to provide proper advice and guidance to farmers in the event of insect pest and disease occurring.

By Addisalem Ambaye Tadesse, and Mulugeta D. Chimsa  

BENEFIT-REALISE best fit practices bridging food gap

Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) beneficiary households are resource poor subsistence farmers who are vulnerable to shocks. Creating access to best practices for enhanced production and productivity of PSNP households through validation and demonstration is an important intervention focus of BENEFIT-REALISE. The best fit practices of potato package comprising high yielding variety of Belete variety, agronomic practice and crop protection approaches was demonstrated on irrigated land by Mekelle University cluster.

The result of the intervention following the harvest in May, proved that adopting BENEFIT-REALISE potato best practice contributes in bridging the food gap at critical time of food shortage in the months June, July, August and September as reported in the baseline survey. (below)

food gap chart

Dairy goat intervention building the resilience of resource poor women

The overall purpose of BENEFIT-REALISE “Improved dairy goat intervention” in Ahferom Woreda is to build asset of vulnerable Female Headed Households (FHHs) towards resilience. In addition to generating income, the intervention aims to improve nutritional status of the households and improve the capacity of the women in livestock

BENEFIT – REALISE diary goat intervention impact story