Category Archives: REALISE

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.

discussion2.jpg

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]

 

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