We are glad to share with you a brochure outlining the key achievements of the BENEFIT Partnership programme and stakeholders over the last five years (2016-2021). The brochure highlights the overall accomplishments of the programmes and stakeholders. It also includes information on the results, change stories, challenges, lessons learned, and future opportunities.
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We are pleased to share with you, the BENEFIT Partnership Newsletter for the months of January-March 2021. In this issue, we bring you highlights of stories, updates and news from the five BENEFIT programmes – ISSD, CASCAPE, ENTAG, SBN and REALISE.
ENTAG published a booklet ‘ENTAG Impact 2016-2020’, that highlights the programme’s impact achievement in the area of font desk and technical support, platform meetings, B2B and market linkage, innovation fund, PSA support and Internship programme.
BENEFIT-REALISE published a booklet ‘Stories of Change’ that showcase local level evidence of successes the programme achieved over the last two years. The stories focused on the following thematic areas.
- Crop productivity and bridging food gap months: Interventions that focus on increasing crop production and productivity through increased availability, timely delivery and use of validated best fit practices.
- Nutrition-sensitive agriculture for enhanced diet diversity: Initiatives that specifically address the underlying causes of malnutrition. Production of crops and vegetables that are affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate and safe in adequate quantity and quality to meet the dietary needs in a sustainable manner.
- Social inclusion and resilience building: Interventions designed to improve the livelihood of excluded sections of society, specifically women and youth.
- Environmental sustainability: Interventions that focus on introducing eco-friendly and cost-effective technologies for increased agricultural productivity.
Read the stories here.
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
BENEFIT-REALISE SNNP and Sidama Regions institutionalization workshop – read the meeting full report here
BENEFIT ISSD-Ethiopia took the initiative to assess the status of seed production in 2020 so as to inform stakeholders on issues that need attention. If seed production increases in 2020 as expected, it will create pressure on seed producers’ resources and capacity in terms of seed collection, processes and storage, affecting timely certification and distribution of seed. In addition, existing structural problems that limit access to fertilizer, agro-chemicals and credit will further discourage active engagement of private seed companies, increasing dependency on public companies.
Read the full brief here.
Job opportunities changing the lives of youth: A partnership between Mekelle University community service and BENEFIT-CASCAPE
To meet one of its mandates in research and community service, Mekelle University has been working in partnership with different projects like CASCAPE in agriculture research activities, implementation of research outputs, and empowers local communities through improved agriculture production and productivity.
At the start of CASCAPE-I in 2012, (known as BENEFIT-CASCAPE since 2016), the project validated, demonstrated and introduced an improved papaya variety called Maradol in Raya Azebo and Raya Alamata Woredas. In recent years, to encourage more farmers to adopt the new papaya variety and speed up the scaling process, Mekelle University CASCAPE project started to look into alternative market outlets and establishing market linkages.
In partnership with Mekelle University and Raya Azebo woreda office, the programme organized unemployed youth from the papaya producing localities, provided trainings and loan. Overall, this effort benefited both the producer farmers by buying their papaya fruits for better price and selling to consumers at 28% lower price at the university main campuses fruit shops. The papaya market linkage has helped Mekelle University to fulfill its mandate to deliver community service. (Read the story and testimonies from the youth who benefited from the initiative here.)
Agro-Weather Services in Public-Private Partnership: LESSONS FROM THE SESAME GROWING ZONES IN NORTH-WEST ETHIOPIA
The risks of crop failure due to climate change-induced weather variability are highest in small-scale agriculture, which is often rain-fed. On the positive side, mobile phones and other new communication technologies offer great opportunities to digitalize agricultural services, especially in remote places. Weather and climate information services are also improving thanks to the widespread availability of satellite data, while web-interfaces, APIs and other IT technology enable easy dissemination of this information.
This article highlights these opportunities and how we have put them into practice in North-West Ethiopia in a public-private partnership of Ethiopian and Dutch partners. Thanks to this partnership, around 10,000 farmers in Ethiopia’s sesame-growing area now receive a weather forecasting service on their mobile phone. In this article we share lessons learned from five-year programme and also our views on improving and sustainably implementing last-mile weather and climate services.
This article highlights that National Meteorological and Hydrological Services play an essential role in the partner chain of weather services. They are the mandated institution and need to be at the core of the service development. Yet most of these institutes in Africa lack the capacity and financial resources to take on this role. We believe that public-private partnerships have the potential to empower these institutions to take on this challenging task. This article contains practical ideas on how a sustainable partnership can be achieved, with our aim being to share the lessons we learned in Ethiopia. (read the full report here)
OCT 2020 – Weather Impact, SBN, NMA
Authors: Fiona van der Burgt (WI), Melisew Misiker Belay (SBN), Asaminew Teshome Game (NMA), Tomaso Ceccarelli (WEnR), Geremew Gashawbeza (SBN), Amare Mugoro
Soil degradation and depletion of soil nutrients are among the major factors threatening sustainable cereal production in the Ethiopian highlands. However, although knowledge on soil fertility status plays a vital role in enhancing production and productivity of the agricultural sector on sustainable basis, little information is available in Southern parts of Tigray. Hence, Mekelle University CASCAPE project has been involved in generating information on soil fertility and nutrient status of the Sothern Zone of the region.
As part of this effort, in 2012 and 2014, CASCAPE project (known as BENEFIT-CASCAPE since 2016) conducted a survey using Monitoring for Quality Assessment (MonQI) tool to assess the soil nutrient balance in the southern zone of the region. The survey result indicates that partial nutrient balance at field level was negative for nitrogen and potassium, and positive for phosphorus. The nutrient balance of the southern Tigray gives strong warning on the status of soil fertility and nutrient management of the area. Moreover, the soil survey to assess the nutrient status, conducted in 2013 and 2014 depicted that the soil nutrient level was below critical level except for phosphorus. The amount of organic amendment applied into the soil is insufficient to offset nutrient losses. Among others, loss of soil organic matter (SOM) in area of low input agriculture is one of the challenges. If the nutrient depletion and land degradation continue at the current rates, farmers will be unable to grow enough food crops for the ever increasing population in the area.
To solve the soil fertility and plant nutrition problems in southern zone of Tigray, Mekelle University CASCAPE Project along with its partners in the region have conducted various survey and experiments during the period of 2012 to 2019, which includes characterization of agricultural soils, MonQI survey for nutrient balance, use of inoculants, use of gypsum amendment, use of compost, farm yard manure (FYM) (Slurry) and soil-crop based fertilizer rate development and others on major crops grown in the southern zone of Tigray.
This document is intends to share experiences and lessons that the project has generated over the last 9 years to its stakeholders in the region and beyond. We believe the document will provide information on soil nutrient status and management practices and serve as reference to the extension system and other actors involved in soil fertility management in Southern zone of Tigray. Read the working paper here.
Short-term improved fallows of Tephrosia vogelii and Cajanus cajan enhanced maize productivity and soil chemical properties of a degraded fallow land in Southwestern Ethiopia: BENEFIT-CASCAPE
An improved fallow experiment was established in 2013 to examine the contribution of shrub legume species, Tephrosia vogelii and Cajanus cajan, in improving the productivity of a degraded tropical soil and crop yields compared with traditional fallow. The study was conducted on five farmers’ fields in southwestern Ethiopia laid out in randomized complete block design with farmers as replicates. After 2 years, the amount of aboveground biomass produced was 5–8 t ha-1 for Tephrosia and 3–5 t ha-1 for Cajanus. Maize grain yield was 80% higher for Tephrosia and 41% for Cajanus compared with the traditional fallow. The legume species significantly increased soil pH, organic carbon and total nitrogen levels compared with the natural fallow but there was no significant effect for available phosphorus. The magnitude of fallow benefit from Tephrosia in terms of yield advantage and nitrogen availability could be related to its high biomass production capacity compared to Cajanus. Fallowing with Tephrosia has the potential for improving productivity of degraded tropical soils. Farmers’ responses to the improved fallows were in general positive and their preference was Tephrosia fallow. Farmers can therefore use Tephrosia to enhance soil fertility by increasing N-levels, soil pH and organic matter of the soil. However, phosphate fertilizer is required as basal application to enhance N-fixation by legumes. Read the full report here.
M. Mamuye  G. Berecha – CASCAPE Project-Joint Ethio-Netherlands Project, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Jimma – University, PO Box 307, Jimma, Ethiopia
A. Nebiyu (&) – Department of Horticulture and Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Jimma University, PO Box 307, Jimma, Ethiopia e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
E. Elias – Centre for Environmental Science, College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ……Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Partnership for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
A B S T R A C T
Geospatially explicit information of soil-landscape resources of Ethiopia is lacking or fragmented for much of the country. Recently, massive soil data were collected, however these are limited to properties related to soil fertility and valid for the topsoil only. Understanding the country’s soil-landscape resources, including their qualities and constraints beyond the topsoil, remains key information for systematic and reliable scaling up of evidence-based agricultural best practices including soil fertility management recommendations. The objective of this study was to produce a coherent dataset of the major soil-landscape resources of 30 highland woredas (districts), contributing to the Agricultural Growth Program of the Government of Ethiopia. The study started with an exploratory survey to identify the major (most common) soils occurring across the landscapes followed by a full survey to assess the distribution of the identified major soils. Representative soil profiles were characterized from soil pits and classified as Reference Soil Groups (RSGs), with prefix qualifiers (PQs), according to the World Reference Base for soil resources (WRB). A large number of soil profiles were classified from auger observations. Observed soil classes at both RSG and RSG + PQ level were combined with spatial explanatory variables (covariates), representing the soil forming factors in the landscapes, and their relationships were modeled and validated by random forest. A multitude of tree models was trained using each profile for calibration in approximately two third and cross-validation in approximately one third of the models. Cross-validation showed that RSGs were predicted with a reasonable overall purity of 0.58 and RSGs +PQ were predicted with a purity of 0.48. The most relevant covariate in the models was the Geomorphology and Soils map of Ethiopia at 1: 1 M scale disaggregated into soil-landscape facets. Next models were used to predict soil classes across woredas which resulted in a 250 m resolution raster map of the most probable major soils. This raster map was generalised into a polygon map of major soil-landscape resources. The purity of this final map was estimated to be 0.54 for RSGs and 0.45 for RSGs + PQ. Soil properties relevant for agricultural interpretation, such as depth, drainage, texture, pH, CEC and organic carbon and nutrient contents, were mapped according to the RSGs depicted on the soil-landscape resources map with a RMSE/mean ratio of on average 42%. We conclude that soil expert knowledge and conventional soil-landscape survey combined with random forest modelling results in an attractive hybrid approach. The approach proves cost-effective and sufficiently accurate and can be used to inform scaling up of evidence-based agricultural best practices. Read the full report here.
J.G.B. Leenaars a, E. Elias b, J.H.M. Wöstenc, M. Ruiperez-Gonzáleza, B. Kempena
a ISRIC – World Soil Information, PO Box 353, Wageningen 6700 AJ, The Netherlands
b College of Natural and Computational Sciences, Centre for Environmental Science, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
c Wageningen Environmental Research, PO Box 47, Wageningen 6700 AA, The Netherlands
Response of Food Barley (Hordeum Vugarae L.) To Boron Blend Fertilizer Rates on Alisols in Southern Highlands of Ethiopia: BENEFIT-CASCAPE Journal
Continuous use of only N and P containing fertilizers are claimed to be the causes of other secondary and micronutrients depletion, resulting in low crop productivity in Ethiopia. In this study, on-farm trials were conducted to compare the effect of multinutrient blended fertilizer – also called boron blend (NPSB: 18. 1 N – 36.1 P2O5 – 6.7S – 0.71B) on the yield and yield components of food barley grown in Alisols in southern Ethiopia during 2017 and 2018 cropping seasons. Seven treatments involving five levels of bornblend fertilizer (50, 100, 150, 200, and 300 kg NPSB kg ha−1) were compared against a compound fertilizer (100 kgha−1 NPS) and the conventionally used 150 kg ha−1 di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). The seven treatments were replicated five times using farm fields as replicates and arranged in randomized complete block design (RCBD). Results revealed significant yield advantages of applying micronutrient containing fertilizers compared to fertilizers without micronutrients. The marginal rate of return analysis showed that the application of 100 NPSB kg ha−1 was the most profitable and agronomically efficient. Season and the soil fertility variation among farmers had a significant (p < .001) effect on food barley yield. Application of Boron blend fertilizer had 500 kg ha−1 grain yield advantage compared to equivalent amount of DAP that was highly promoted by the extension system. B-blended fertilizer was advantageous when applied during good rainy seasons in Alisols of Ethiopian highlands. For good performances of B-blended fertilizers, taking into account the soil moisture availability is advised for both better productivity and agronomic efficiency. (Read the full journal here)
Eyasu Elias , Beyene Teklu Mellisse , Getachew Agegnehu & Desalegn Ayele (2020): Response of Food Barley (Hordeum Vugarae L.) To Boron Blend Fertilizer Rates on Alisols in Southern Highlands of Ethiopia, Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00103624.2020.1813752
Published online: 02 Sep 2020.
Data was gathered from 82 online survey respondents representing various stakeholders at woreda, zone, region and national levels. The survey results were discussed in four focus group discussions, where possible action points to address the challenges were proposed, relevant stakeholders to who should initiate and drive actions were proposed.
The assessment highlighted the following four alert areas
· Health and safety of labourers are of major concern
· Small businesses are at risk of collapse
· A financial action plan is needed for timely provision of credit
· Resource-poor farmers are facing particularly severe challenges
The report lists the impact, actions required, stakeholders involved and who should take the initiative and drive actions for each alter identified.
Please follow the following links to read the first and second Sesame Alerts. The alerts are available in English, Amharic and Tigrigna languages.
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.
Like many countries in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected most businesses in Ethiopia. One of these businesses is the pulses sector. According to the CSA 2018/2019 data, pulse covered 12.73 % of the grain crop area and 9.54% of the grain production. The most prominent export pulses are haricot bean, chickpea and faba beans.
The recent rapid assessment conducted by BENEFIT-ENTAG tries to briefly zoom in and see COVID-19’s pressure on: (i) availability on agri-inputs; (ii) farmers mobility; (iii) pulse production; (iv) pulse export; and (v) pulse price and employment.
Among others, the rapid assessment highlights there could be a loss of 600 to 900 thousand metric tons pulse production and associated decline by 9.5% in 2020. While there has been a change in price at local markets the pandemic has had relatively small impact on employment, with only 3 % job loss. The recommendation focused on availing agricultural inputs to farmers, maintaining supply chains (production), simplifying customs procedures and increasing percentage share of pulse export.
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.
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
We are pleased to share with you, the BENEFIT Partnership Newsletter for the months of April-June 2020. In this issue, we bring you highlights of stories, updates and news from the five BENEFIT programmes – ISSD, CASCAPE, ENTAG, SBN and REALISE.
BENEFIT-CASCAPE published a synthesis report that shows the findings of an assessments on the outcome of ToTs given by the project (2017-2019) and clusters (2018-2019) to experts and woreda level SMS from four regional states (Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR).
The result of the outcome showed that, the training helped the cluster experts refresh their knowledge and added new skills and knowledge enabling them to train the target extension agents and do their jobs effectively. The training also had real value in bridging the skill and knowledge capacity gaps of the woreda SMS and helped them do their agricultural activities in a more effective ways.
Read the synthesis report here.
BENEFIT-ISSD Amhara Unit published a report “Consolidation of ISSD Amhara Unit Best Lessons and Selected Workshop Proceedings” that highlights the programme successes in Amhara region. The report summaries 17 key achievements in empowering Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) to become more autonomous and commercial in their operations in the seed sector, promotion of contractual agreements, ensuring seed quality, provision of technical training, establishment and promotion of institutional setup (core groups, platforms) to bring systematic change and collaboration with key stakeholders towards sustainability and institutionalization. The report covers the following topics
- A Thriving Community of Women Seed Producers in Amhara Region
- Contractual Early Generation Seed Production and Agreement Improvements to Unlock Challenges
- Institutionalization of the Regional Core Group and Issue of Sustainability
- Worth of Seed Quality Assurance in Amhara Region
- Regional Potato Platform Establishment
- ENTAG-ISSD Collaboration to Enhance Disease Free Potato Mini-tuber Production for Private Seed Producers
- Institutionalizing ISSD Major Achievements; Consultative Workshop with University Higher Officials and Seed Unit Members
- ISSD Amhara Unit Practical Training on Seed Production, Marketing and Business Plan Development
- Centre for Development Innovation (CDI) and BENEFIT Team Visit to Amhara Region Projects
- Empowering Seed Producers through Financial literacy
- Collaborative Training on Seed Production, Marketing and Cooperative Management
- ISSD Amhara Unit Participation on the 3rd Amhara Region Cooperative Exhibitions
- Institutionalizing Crowd Sourcing and PVS Systems in Amhara Region
The report also includes abstracts of theses published over the years by students supported through the programme.
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in collaboration with partner organizations in Ethiopia published a report “Rapid country assessment: The impact of COVID-19 on the food system in Ethiopia” on key impacts of COVID-19 crisis on Ethiopia food system. The brief published in July 2020 summarizes the effects of the lockdown measures on the most vulnerable groups, gaps identified in the data analysed and in government responses to the crisis, and actions required to address short-term priorities and challenges.
Key impacts highlighted in the report included
- Impacts on the agricultural sector will affect the entire economy
- The poverty rate is increasing
- Demand for high-value perishables is shrinking
- Reduced productivity and production puts the financial sector at risk
- Youth are facing job losses
- Availability of food is not an issue (yet), affordability is…
The brief also covers population subgroups who are most vulnerable to the crisis in different ways and looks at the effect of COVID-19 in relation to food system drivers, activities and outcomes.
The rapid country assessment of Ethiopia involved representatives of the following
organisations, who provided secondary data and reviewed draft versions of this assessment: Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA); Agri-ProFocus, Agriterra, Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) Partnership, BENEFIT- Sesame Business Network, BENEFIT- Integrated Seed Sector Development Ethiopia, BENEFIT Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia, Fair and Sustainable Consulting, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), ICCO/Stichting Woord en Daad, International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI), and Netherlands Development Organization (SNV).
For other WUR rapid country assessments and effects of COVID-19 on different sectors look here.
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.
- 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.
- A significant number of PSNP households especially the youth entirely depend on casual labour wages earned in the sesame growing areas.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Reduced labour productivity and precarious health condition of casual labourers may worsen with the continued COVID 19 pandemic, unless appropriate measure is taken.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Farmers should be encouraged to use home saved seed, compost and backyard manure where the supply of improved seed and fertilizers is inadequate.
- A special fund for agricultural finance which supply credit for agricultural inputs should be put in place.
- 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)
With lessons to inspire policymakers and practitioners alike, this film tells how Ethiopian and international partners have guided Ethiopia’s seed sector transformation. This film is a companion for a new case study which highlights key elements of the approach towards facilitating systemic change in the Ethiopian seed sector. The case study shares lessons for those who strive to guide sector transformation elsewhere.
As part of the BENEFIT Partnership (Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort on Food, Income and Trade), ISSD Ethiopia contributes to increased quantity and quality of sustainable agricultural production, improved markets and trade, and an enabling environment for agriculture in Ethiopia.For more information on the work on BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia look at their website here
Fertilizer alert on the impact of COVID-19 on the fertilizer sector in Ethiopia: rapid assessment conducted by BENEFIT-CASCAPE
BENEFIT-CASCAPE published its findings from a rapid assessments conducted on the impact of COVID19 on the fertilizer sector in Ethiopia. The fertilizer alerts identify current challenges and outline urgent action needed in the fertilizer sector based on surveys and focus group discussions. The activity aims to inform decision-makers in government, development practitioners, research, and farmers’ organizations, on where the impact of the crisis is felt the most, and to contribute to the immediate actions required to address the identified challenges. The alerts complement other efforts, for example by IFDC, that provide insights and compare countries in the functioning of the fertilizer market and supply chain. The activity was implemented in partnership between Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and BENEFIT-CASCAPE in Ethiopia.
The survey and focus group discussions (FGDs) that covered a full range of fertilizer sector functions and supply chain operation was conducted by BENEFIT-CASCAPE national staff in the months of June 2020. The findings highlighted the following
- Alert 1: Mobility restrictions and fear of infection limit the import and national distribution of fertilizers
- Alert 2: Mobility restrictions hamper the last-mile delivery of fertilizers to unions and cooperatives
- Alert 3: Mobility restrictions and social-distancing measures hinder farmers from purchasing fertilizers at unions and cooperatives
- Alert 4: Mobility restrictions and social-distancing measures affect interactions between extensionists and farmers
For more information
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.
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.
Since 2011, BENEFIT ISSD, Amhara Unit implemented Direct Seed Marketing (DSM) on hybrid maize reaching 56 maize potential woredas in Amhara region. Compared to conventional way of accessing seed, DSM has proven to address problems related to long chains and channels, high bureaucracy, dalliance of seed accessibility and high annual seed carry over. That is why, in spite of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 pandemic, ISSD Amhara Unit conducted two DSM workshops in the first week of June 2020 taking all emerging restriction and precautions into consideration. The decision was made to keep the momentum of DSM successes achieved so far, and contribute to easing the effect of COVID-19 on the seed sector in the coming year.
ISSD Amhara unit intervention on wheat DSM started with an agreement between ISSD Amhara Unit and regional decision makers and Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) to start a pilot in two zones (Jama in south wollo enewari and jiru in north showa). The workshops were conducted in collaboration with Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and BoA. A total of 40 individuals from regional agricultural bureau, seed and other agricultural input quality regulatory and quarantine authority, unions, cooperatives, zonal and woreda agricultural bureaus attended the workshop.
During the workshop, the participants looked at the region DSM performance, reasons for starting DSM in the selected two zones, existing weak awareness of DSM, reluctance of seed producers and unions to participate in DSM, dalliance to start pilots to showcase DSM successes and implementation challenges that might surface due to COVID-19. The workshop was instrumental to get commitment from relevant stakeholders, especially BoA towards a successful implementation of DSM.
At the end, consensus was reached to commence DSM using multipurpose cooperative as agents, and for unions for public seed producers to pay key role in the DSM process. ISSD will conduct monitoring and evaluation and ATA will focus on capacity building of agents. Zonal and woreda agricultural office agreed to select agents, build awareness on DSM and lead the overall implementation of the pilot.
By Wonzie Asmare, Knowledge Sharing & Communication Expert, ISSD Amhara Unit
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.
BENEFIT-CASCAPE initiative to better understand and mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the fertilizer sector in Ethiopia
Fertilizers have played a vital role in raising agricultural productivity in Ethiopia for decades. Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Input Directorate 2020 six months report states that the estimated use of fertilizer in 2020 is 1.4 million MT. Realizing the critical role fertilizer plays in the agricultural sector, BENEFIT-CASCAPE recently initiated an activity to raise awareness on the impact of the COVID-19 on the fertilizer sector and provide advise on urgent and practical actions to mitigate risks associated with the virus. The alerts complement other efforts, for example by IFDC, that provide insights and compare countries in the functioning of the fertilizer market and supply chain.
BENEFIT-CASCAPE rapid assessment of the fertilizer sector is conducted through a survey and focus group discussions (FGDs) and covers the full range of fertilizer sector functions and supply chain operations. Its outcomes are used to create ‘Fertilizer Alerts’ to inform decision-makers in government, development practitioners, research, and farmers’ organizations, on where the impact of the crisis is felt the most, and to contribute to the immediate actions required to address the identified challenges. FGDs are planned at regional levels and the expertise and practical experience of those stakeholders in the fertilizer sector determines their participation. WCDI and WEnR, with its national partners in BENEFIT/CASCAPE, will compile a fertilizer alert using the outcomes of the survey and FGDs. In line with emerging lockdown restrictions in the countries in which our partners are based, primary parts of the rapid assessment are digital. The surveys are app-based, and the FGDs take place as much as possible virtually through videoconferencing. The team uses a variety of communication tools, including social media, blogs, video messages, and portals to share each fertilizer alert.
The COVID-19 rapid assessment introductory brief highlights that COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect the fertilizer sector in multiple ways. These include difficulty in quality inspection and certification impacting productivity; shortage of truck drivers and restriction of travel affecting access to synthetic fertilizers; decreasing market outlets discouraging farmers to use fertilizer during the next growing season; lack of access to credit and limited mobilization to distribution centers leading to less fertilizer purchase etc. Even though MoA, stated that the procurement, transportation and distribution of fertilizer is in a relatively good position to face the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown, supply of bags and the risk of COVID-19 infection for the truck drivers and workers at distribution centers, are expected to affect the timely distribution of fertilizer to some extent.
The rapid assessment has adapted a methodology that was already in use by various sectors, including the seed, sesame and horticulture sectors, and which was developed by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI). The methodology and steps followed are presented here.
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.
Promoting the use of information management system in the Ethiopian sesame sector: Lessons learned from BENEFIT-SBN
From 2016-2019, one of Sesame Business Network (SBN)’s initiatives focused on promoting the use of information management system in the Ethiopia sesame sector. The effort that started with an Excel database in 2016-2017, evolved into a sector management information system, based on a tailored, more advanced software application. The pilot was implemented in 2018-2019 in four kebeles, with a vision of having a public digital information management system that is up-to-date, reliable and accessible, supporting all sector stakeholders and paid through a levy system.
Specific objectives of the pilot included: (i) support transparency with a public database; (ii) facilitate the provision of public services by government agencies to farmers; (iii) promote in-depth sector analysis through customized reports; (iv) digitize member administration of cooperatives; and (v) support information exchange between cooperatives and unions.
With increased access to computers and the internet, public agencies and farmers’ organizations in the commercial sesame sector are increasingly showing interest in using digitalized information system to gather, share and use consolidated information for professional planning, management, transparency, collaboration and trade.
The process of providing the Excel database and developing the digital information system, which included working with handheld devices and software, training and frequent discussions have raised the awareness of stakeholders on the importance of reliable digitalized field data. As partners in tailoring the software, they have gained insights about how to: i) work with software programs, ii) structure and prioritize information iii) organize data collection and quality control, iv) exchange information with other partners and v) analyse data and produce a report.
The process over the years
The first step towards information management was the establishment of woreda databases in Excel, which is a widely available and known tool. Databases were developed, based on available information on key parameters such as population, land, cultivated acreages for different crops, production, productivity and market prices. Whenever possible, attention was given to disaggregate information according to gender and age. By the end of 2017, the databases were handed over to 13 woredas, with appropriate training on how to use and maintain it.
In 2018, two digital information systems were introduced (FarmForce and eProd). Both systems were specifically developed for smallholder agricultural production and marketed in remote areas. They work with a mobile application to collect field level data, including GPS references. A desktop application allows for extensive analyses of collected data and can generate several reports.
Several stakeholders of the sesame sector, BoA, CPO, unions and cooperatives, have been involved to build a sector-wide information management system that meets their data and information needs. Based on the eProd software, which was further developed and tailored for the sesame sector, the piloting was done in two kebeles in Tigray and two kebeles in Amhara regions. By the end of 2019, field and farmer information was entered in the system for four kebeles (6,677 farmers), two kebeles in Amhara (3,038 farmers) and two in Tigray (3,639 farmers).
- Limited infrastructure and human capacity. Stakeholders hardly own functional hardware to install the software. Power cuts, virus infections and damaged hardware make installation and reliable functioning of the software challenging. In addition, stakeholders have limited experience to work with computers and any type of software. As a result, the training of dedicated staff members was time-consuming, compounded by high staff turnover.
- Start from a simple solution and have a multi step introductory approach. The Excel based woreda databases featured several benefits like low cost, easy understanding and use, and flexible formats. In the context of non-existing digital data collection practices and a non conducive environment, a more incremental approach, with a modest scope at the beginning, reduces the time and investments for getting a digital information system up and running. This reduces the risk of errors and limited use of the information system.
- Software customization. The software was adapted to accommodate specific needs and translated in local languages. Translation from English to Amharic and Tigrinya was a very time consuming exercise. A tailor-made system increases the likelihood of relevancy and future use by local stakeholders.
- User friendliness. Some software interfaces are more intuitive and easier to use than others. A combination of a simple mobile and advanced desktop application is a good solution to accommodate the different stakeholder capacities and needs.
- Offline functionality. In a context of unreliable access to internet, an offline system is a valuable asset.
- Data collection and modification. Data collection in the field, including GPS referencing, takes time. Stakeholder expectations and data correction need to be carefully managed. Moreover, if data entering or correction is not carefully managed or users can easily modify the format (Excel), data quality and aggregation are at risk. Digitized systems and consistent processes can help to reduce this risk.
- Data aggregation and multi-stakeholder accessibility. Software systems make it easy to aggregate data at different administrative levels (e.g. from kebeles to woreda, zone and regional level). The generic information can be easily accessed by various stakeholders, who can add and manage additional information streams according to their specific needs. This requires dedicated, competent staff.
- Community acceptance. The most important data input providers are farmers. Providing personal information requires trust and understanding. Careful introduction with the help of community leaders or local authorities is key. Clear benefits, such as weather forecast services and others, enhance the likelihood of acceptance.
- Stakeholder support and benefits. Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) and unions supported the hosting of staff and shared costs for transport (motorcycles). This contribution is important, especially for creating ownership. Benefits of the information system stimulate users to make an effort and invest.
- Technical assistance. Digital tools are complicated and can face many technical problems. A computer expert who knows the information system is needed to support stakeholders with any challenges they face along the way.
- Sustainability/affordability of scaling. The introduction of advanced information management systems comes at high implementation costs (field staff and experts, computers, phones, motorbikes). System licenses are often expensive and require yearly payments in forex, which is an issue in Ethiopia.
- Integration into daily processes. The organisations participating in the pilot are used to a certain way of working and procedures. Integrating a new information management system in their daily work routines is a major challenge. This requires the support and commitment of higher officials.
- Moving towards a digital information system is a long process. During the past years, the pilot in the mentioned four pilot kebeles is a first proof of concept. The next step is to explain the process, lessons learnt and current proof of concept to higher officials of different stakeholder organizations, who increasingly believe the need for a digital system. High level buy-in can facilitate the change of work routines and the search for sustainable funding, for which a levy system is a possible solution.
BENEFIT-SBN published its first Sesame Alert that highlights COVID-19 related challenges and urgent actions needed in the Ethiopian sesame sector. It was developed to better understanding how the virus and measures taken to cope with it are affecting the sesame sector and support the development of urgent coping strategies that enhance resilience and support continuity of activities of the sector. The brief outlines the major alters, their impacts, actions required, stakeholders involved, and a responsible body to take the initiatives.
The first quick scan started in mid-May. Based on sector transformation tool from aidenviromnet, a questionnaire (max 15 min) covering issues throughout the sesame value chain, including production, inputs, credit, market, labour, finance, extension, communication, collaboration was developed and shared on line with 75 respondents. The results of the questionnaires were then presented for Focus Group Discussion (FGDs), where local panel of 24 experts representing the government, research, the private identified coping strategies and responsible stakeholders to take action.
The sesame alter brief (#01 May 202 Sesame Alert) is being shared with relevant stakeholders of the sesame sector in three languages- English, Amharic and Tigrigna, via WCDI, BENEFIT and SBN websites and social media outlets. In addition there is a plan to share the information via regional media. In the coming weeks and months, BENEFIT-SBN will work with the stakeholders to initiate, drive and support actions to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 related challenges.
The initiative is part of WUR effort working with strategic partners in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda to generate a set of targeted alerts to combat the spread of the virus and minimize its negative impact on food security. Reiteration of the quick scan will be done at least monthly for the full duration of the crisis.
Read more on #01 Ethiopia Sesame Alert – May 2020
- Alert 1: Reduced area of sesame cultivation affects future export revenues
- Alert 2: Availability of labour and welfare of labourers are of major Concern
- Alert 3: Mobility restrictions hamper input delivery and extension services
- Alert 3: Increased production costs result in a more acute need for credit
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.
- 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
Promoting cooperative based seed production: The case of ISSD Amhara Unit support to Serten-Endeg SPC
Over the past two decades, Ethiopia has pursued a range of policies and investments to boost agricultural production and productivity. One of them focuses on increasing the availability of improved seed, vital to increase agricultural yield by significant folds. In support to this effort, Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Ethiopia implemented many projects through four implementing partners, four universities (Bahir Dar, Haramaya, Hawassa, and Mekelle), Oromia Seed Enterprise, Ethiopian Seed Producers and Growers’ Association, with technical support from Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI). Since 2009, ISSD used many innovative approaches to improve the seed sector, especially to identify, acknowledge and develop diverse sources for seed upon which farmers can rely on. And one of them focus on transforming Local Seed Business, (LSBs), groups of farmers organized as seed producer cooperatives into self-reliant and sustainable local seed businesses.
ISSD’s recent effort working with Serten Endeg Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC), that specializes in hybrid maize and wheat in West Gojjam zone, Burie zuria woreda Zalma kebele, is a good example how ISSD’s approach transformed a weak SPC into a self-sustained and stable cooperative capable of contributing to sustainable seed supply in the country.
At the start of the intervention, Serten Endeg SPC was characterized by lack of members’ trust, divided committee memebers, poor governance and lack of infrastructure. The woreda cooperative office acknowledged that the SPC’s management did not adhere to cooperative principles and guidelines, and members were not confident about their collective entity due to poor management transparency.
The project first identified the gaps through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Based on the findings, ISSD Amhara unit conducted discussions with the LSB executive committee, woreda cooperative office and Bureau of Agriculture (BoA). With the assistance of the Woreda office of agriculture and ISSD Amhara unit, an agreement was reached for the LSB to work on seed quality assurance and acquire Certificate of Competence (CoC). The Woreda cooperative office audited the cooperative, assisted in carrying out general assembly meetings and contributed to improving the governance of the SPC. ISSD provided the necessary grant to the SPC for finishing a store and office construction and provided technical support and training in various areas.
As a result of this collaboration the cooperative has shown tremendous achievements and the woreda cooperative office is appreciated the improvement seen within short period of time. The cooperative recent audit found the cooperative to be profitable and members’ trust of the management committee has increased. The cooperative is aspiring to use its member’s and rented land, to produce more crop seed and add wheat as new seed in the next season. At present, the cooperative is attracting new members. As the result of linkage created by ISSD Amhara Unit Bahir Dar University, the SPC tackled its marketing problem and sold its seeds to Amhara region farmers and Ethiopian Seed Enterprises, seed union and private seed producers.
The cooperative is also looking into an option of working with contractual seed production. Moreover, due to the project support the seed producer cooperative is now a member of Ediget Bandinet Seed Union that is found at Burie.
Recently, as a result of collaborative effort between ISSD and ATA, the cooperative installed a cleaning machine. To resolve challenges related to power supply, ISSD Amhara Unit facilitated the purchase of a generator through provision of grant. The testing of the cleaning machine was conducted in May 2020, where 25 members of the cooperative attended. That was followed by training of 4 people (one expert and 3 farmers) in operating and managing the machine.
ISSD’s Amhara Unit support in organizing the seed producer as a legal entity, obtaining certificate of competency, building basic infrastructure, linkage with market and service providers, and enhancing the seed producers’ capacity were vital in strengthening and creating a self-reliant SPC that can contribute to seed supply towards improving food security in 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.
On behalf of the agricultural bureau of the Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa and with great support of BENEFIT-ENTAG, the Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC) recently published two documents that provide in-depth information on opportunities for both the private and public Dutch poultry sector in Ethiopia. The report ‘Poultry sector cooperation between the Netherlands and Ethiopia’ and the factsheet Poultry Ethiopia include knowledge related to special requests from the Dutch sector, challenges and suggestions for support of Dutch companies already doing business in or with Ethiopia. The aim of the research is to inform the Dutch business community and to help guide the Embassy’s interventions.
The reports are based on data from the Business opportunity report ‘Invest in the Ethiopian poultry sector 2020 (ENTAG 2020)’, reports by World Bank, CSA and FAO (2016-2019) as well as interviews with both existing and potential Dutch investors and suppliers (2019).
Click here to learn more on BENEFIT-ENTAG poultry sector interventions.
Extracted from Poultry opportunities in Ethiopia.
2019 marked a decade of ISSD in Ethiopia. Ten years have passed since the concept note on Integrated Seed Sector Development in Ethiopia was endorsed by the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), FAO and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) at Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa.
In the last ten years, ISSD Ethiopia registered many achievements in the areas of
- Introducing Local Seed Business (LSB) model to more than 270 Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) and 50 development organizations across the country and enhancing pluralism in seed production.
- Farmers’ use of quality seed increased 28% between 2014 and 2016. The programme improved the availability and use of quality seed for more than 4 million smallholder households, reducing bureaucratic burden, inefficiency and costly rates of carryover seed in some cases by as much as 85%.
- ISSD Ethiopia introduced the concept of Direct Seed Marketing (DSM), piloted it, and helped scale its practice in 313 districts across the country.
- ISSD Ethiopia pioneered the establishment of independent seed regulatory authorities in Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR to enforce regulation and improve delivery of public services to the sector, including licensing, certification and quality assurance.
A strategy which greatly contributed to these achievements was the establishment of regional seed core groups in the four regional states where ISSD Ethiopia operates. The groups, composed of selected key decision-makers in the regional state arena, including: deputy-/heads of the BoA; directors of research institutes; representatives of public and private seed producers and farmers’ organizations; and coordinators of seed related NGO- and multi-/bilateral projects. Jointly, they formulate interventions to overcome strategic challenges, coordinate developments, facilitate partnerships, channel financial and technical resources, monitor and support interventions and embed successful interventions in working practices. Much of the attention has been directed to addressing the underlying causes of systemic problems.
As ISSD Ethiopia’s presence continued and results materialized, collaboration was increasingly solicited at federal level. After years of investment in piloting innovation and facilitating dialogue, ISSD Ethiopia generated good rapport to pursue sector wide and inclusive strategy involving institutional and regulatory reform.
Today there exists a stakeholder-owned and MoA endorsed seed sector Transformation Agenda, a draft seed policy and amendment proposal to the 2013 seed law. Whilst these results outlined are an achievement in itself, they are yet to lead to positive impact on the performance of the seed sector. What is a necessary and challenging task is still to come, in translating these documents into action and the actual implementation thereof. ISSD Ethiopia has already started raising awareness of the strategies proposed in the Transformation Agenda. It was presented to 24 MoA staff in the presence of the State Ministers, who directed their staff to incorporate the strategies in their new multi-annual plan. With the same outcome in mind, a process started at the regional level. 700 copies of the Transformation Agenda have been distributed for public reference.
- Embrace systemic change: ISSD Ethiopia did well to focus its narrative on systems, addressing systemic changes and root causes of stubborn problems of the seed sector, and raising the ambitions of its partners. Developing the vision of tomorrow was a far better point of departure than dealing with the pressing day-to-day problems, elevating the dialogue to a far more strategic level. But it is good to note, it is challenging to work on systemic changes with professionals from different organizations as they tend to approach issues and solutions primarily from their own field of expertise and interest. We should also keep in mind systemic change is a slow game, considering that much of ISSD Ethiopia’s efforts from as far back as 10 years’ ago are only recently coming to fruition.
- The programme employed a sector model, which helped participants in the process to unpack complexity, realize the interdependencies between building blocks of the sector, and create a shared language.
- ISSD Ethiopia worked in parallel with key stakeholders at regional state and federal levels, which created familiarity and trust making communication and follow-up effective. Exchange of experiences between regional states created confidence for those lagging behind. ISSD Ethiopia’s collaboration with other partners was pivotal in building its credibility crucial for successes achieved and has earned ISSD Ethiopia government’s trust as a respected adviser.
- ISSD Ethiopia has been strategic in adapting to unfolding circumstances of Ethiopia’s dynamic political environment into consideration.
- The turnover of staff in public institutions in particular has been an enormous obstacle (but also an opportunity if you consider ISSD Ethiopia’s history with officials that have come to power);
- Finally, ISSD could not have been successful in its effort on sector transformation without its dedicated and skillful staff.
New effort to better understand and mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on the seed sector: A collaborative effort between ISSD Ethiopia and WCDI
In response to COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on food security, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia Program’s recent effort focuses on better understanding how the pandemic affects the seed sector and supports the development of urgent coping strategies that would enhance resilience and support continuity of activities of the seed sector. The initiative that was initiated and designed by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) aims at raising awareness on the situation and its impact on the seed sector. It is based on a country quick scan of the impact of COVID-19 and responses to the pandemic on different functions and practical activities in the seed sector. It is implemented in four countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Myanmar), where ISSD program is already being implemented.
The first quick scan in Ethiopia was conducted in April and report issued during the first week of May. It was conducted through rapid remote survey and crop specific focus group discussions (FGDs), targeting maize and wheat seed systems. A panel of experts, representing government, research, seed companies, service delivery and farmer organizations, was established to answer survey questions on full range of seed value chain functions and seed value chain services and enablers. Closed questionnaire related to the level of impact on practical activities within the current frame in time were used to prioritize issues. A summary of the results generated automatically and further validated by virtual FGDs, focusing on maize and wheat seed systems. The validated alerts and the coping strategies are shared with pertinent stakeholders for take action.
Reiteration will be done at least monthly for the full duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly dashboards on outcomes of the periodical survey will be widely shared among stakeholder thorough meetings (taking the necessary precaution or using video conferencing taking the emerging restriction into consideration) and variety of communication tools mostly digital. [read more on “How does COVID-19 affect the seed sector” introductory brief here)
The outcome of the first of the assessment for the month of May (#01 May 2020 Seed Alert Ethiopia) has been shared with federal and regional stakeholders and decision makers, including the federal Ministry of Agriculture, the regional bureaus of agriculture and the Agricultural Transformation Agency as well as research system. (Click here a Q & A on the briefing). The May quick scan outcome highlighted the following Alerts
- Alert 1: Precautions hamper seed processing and distribution
- Alert 2: Short supply of inputs and labour constrain seed production
- Alert 3: Social distancing diminishes government’s capability to coordinate EGS supply
- Alert 3: Concern that substandard seed will make its way onto the market is heightened
For more information
- WCDI – The effects of COVID-19 on food systems: Our full story on the rapid assessments, results, synthesis and methodology can be found here.
- WCDI – COVID-19: Rapid assessments highlight immediate impacts on seed sector
- WCDI LinkedIn here
Q. What is ISSD-Ethiopia seed alert?
A. ISSD-Ethiopia seed alert is a document that outlines COVID-19 related major challenges and urgent actions needed in the Ethiopian seed sector, based on virtual surveys and focus group discussions with various stakeholders. It outlines the major alters, their impacts, actions required, stakeholders involved, and a responsible body to take the initiatives. The effort is designed and initiated by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) and ISSD Ethiopia Program to raise awareness on the situation and its impact of COVID on the seed sector.
Q. How was the seed alert produced?
A. The quick scan was conducted at country level through rapid remote survey and focus group discussions (FGDs). A total of 45 panelists, representing government, research, seed company, service delivery and farmer organizations answered questions delivered in a 15 minute survey either online or on an application on their telephone, in which 75% of the panelists responded. The survey covers the full range of seed sector functions and support services. A summary of the results, with a focus on alert areas, copping strategies and identification of responsible stakeholders produced and validated for each of the identified by two FGDs, focusing on maize and wheat seed system.
Q. When was the first alert produced and how often are they produced?
A. The first seed alert in Ethiopia was produced in first week of May. Reiteration will be done at least monthly for the full duration of the crisis.
Q. How and with whom is the outcome shared?
A. In line with emerging lock-down restrictions the outcome was mostly shared through digital means. Various communication tools including WCDI and BENEFIT website, social media, blogs, video messages and portals are used to share the outcomes. Video conferencing and selective meetings with precaution were held to ensure proper action is taken in a timely manner. In addition, the outcome was shared with members of the panelists and FGD members to disseminate and share further with a wider audience.
Q. Who attended the first Ethiopia debriefing?
A. The debriefing to share the first outcome of the alert was held on 15 May 2020, in the presence of two state ministers of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Director General of the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture, and Senior Director of Production and Productivity of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency.
Q. What were the major issues and decisions during the briefing?
A. Over all, MoA was extremely happy and appreciative of the effort and confirmed the alerts identified were pertinent. Major issues and decisions focused on expediting EGS contract signing for demand-driven production, cascading the debriefing for regional stakeholders and decision makers, supporting seed producer enterprises, ensuring efficient seed distribution with no seed carry-over, finalizing the seed digital platform as well as identifying the specific areas, where ISSD can contribute in mitigating the alters identified.
Q. What were the next steps agreed upon?
A. Periodically, subsequent survey and FGD will be conducted, providing up-to-date alerts and copping strategies for the period of the pandemic and the end of next harvesting in December-January.
Production of minitubers in screen house contribute to provision of sustainable disease free potato seed: ISSD Amhara Unit
Organizing farmers into Seed Producer Cooperative (SPC) is a key strategy to grow and market much needed quality/farmer preferred seed. Addis Alem SPC, established to produce and market potato seed in Amhara region since 2002 GC is a good example how SPCs can play key role in seed value chain development. The SPC is one of the 4 SPCs directly supported by ISSD Amhara unit, organized with the objective of production, packaging and marketing of improved/farmers preferred seeds in the region.
In Ethiopia, potato is regarded as a high potential crop owing to its ability to provide high yield per unit area with a short crop cycle. It is an important food security and hunger reliever crop by virtue of its ability to mature in advance to most other crops at the time of critical food shortage. However, in spite of the increasing demand, productivity of potato has always been low and declining over the years due to lack of quality disease free seed supply.
Majority of farmers use farm saved, disease susceptible potato seed obtained from local market or exchanged among farmers. In spite of seed regulations in the region, the systems have largely been operating under limited human capacity and facilities without quality control. Poor functioning seed systems, lack of commercial seed production systems, inability of the informal seed system to maintain seed quality and eliminate diseases are consistently ranked among the major constraints in potato production.
Recent years efforts to satisfy the increasing demand by different researches, the regional government, NGOs and other development actors focused on increasing the areas of production rather than increasing productivity through tackling the major productivity constraints – availability of disease free quality potato seed and limited access to suitable varieties. Traditionally, seed potato production systems in the country have the responsibility of research centers and seed producer cooperatives.
In collaboration with regional partners, the work of ISSD to improve the performance of potato value chain started with analysis to better understand the main constraints along the potato seed value chain. Based on the survey result, ISSD in collaboration with Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) supported Addis Alem SPC in production and supply of disease free quality potato mini tuber using screen house.
The production started by the construction of 15 m X 8m X 3m (Length, width and height) screen house and 15mx8mx5m Diffused Light Store (DLS) in the potato potential areas of South Gondar zone, Farta woreda, Awzet kebele. The standard screen house was built using mush wire, cement (for the floor), ground water, compost, sand and forest soil with close follow up, technical support and management. Initially the SPC planted 900 plantlets in 900 pots to produce disease free potato mini-tuber and produced 13000 G0 tubers (on average 14tubers per pot) of Belete variety. During the next round the SPC produced 6000 G1 mini tuber, which was planted on half hectares to produce 200qt G2 of quality disease free seed potato.
Despite the first doubt of the farmers and to their pleasant surprise, it was possible to get 14 tubers from a single plantlet. This has increased the demand or potato seed considerably within a short time.
Misgan Mulaw, “I was able to get enough G1 disease free tubers to produce and sell 64qt of disease free seed potato to the SPC. I earned 60,500.00 Ethiopian Birr.” Similarly Ato Misganaw Haile and Awoke Fantaw produced and supplied 37 and 36qt and earned 29,600.00 and 28,800.00Birr respectively.
Ato Marew Awoke effort is a good example on the level of acceptance of the technique by the surrounding farmers. “I built my own screen house using the technique provided. And with the supply of plantlets from ARARI I was able to produce 1160 G0 tubers, and from that 6.5qt G1 disease free seed potato tuber.”
The main factors that are contributing to ensuring the SPC’s capability to become a sustainable source of quality potato source seed to the area include the cooperative’s infrastructure (screen house, ground water, DLS), experiences how to manage the screen house and its good linkage with plantlets source. Their success is currently being scaled up by Mush SPC in North Shewa zone, Basona Worana Woreda with the support of ISSD Amhara unit. Furthermore, Following a visit to Addis Alem SPC, Bahir Dar University and Debretabor universities allocated budget for construction of the infrastructure (screen house, hand dag well, DLS). Guna union is being supported by Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) to build the necessary infrastructure to increase production and productivity of disease free potato mini tubers. ISSD Amhara unit supported by linking Guna union with various partners including plantlet supplier, the Woreda office of agriculture, quality regulatory authority and Adet agricultural research institute. The programme also provided technical support at different levels. In addition, GO and NGOs potato platform was established at regional level to provide coordinated support for potato producers in the value chain development.
April 2020 – By Wonzie Asmare Knowledge Sharing & communication Expert, ISSD Amhara Unit
Ethiopian sesame sector post-harvest value creation and market linkages: Lessons learned from BENEFIT-SBN
In the past 5 years, Sesame Business Network (SBN) has conducted many studies and supported several specific initiatives, with the aim to increase Ethiopia sesame value creation, to establish constructive relations between value chain operators, and to improve the income of farmers and their organisations. The programme faced many challenges that made it difficult to achieve its target of achieving 10% higher farmer income from value addition and market linkages.
A three-page lessons learned paper “Post-harvest value creation: a fundamental challenge for the Ethiopian sesame sector” was prepared in the summer of 2019, highlighting all initiatives of the past 4 years and essential factors that inhibited the sesame sector product and market development. Concerning the current context, the paper concluded that:
- farmers can get a relatively high domestic price for raw sesame and are not rewarded for producing quality sesame or investing in value addition activities;
- there are no incentives for direct supplier-buyer relations;
- sesame is an expensive input for local food processing; and
- policies for creating a more enabling business environment are missing (i.e. imported oil is subsided, domestic/local oil is taxed).
As a result, post-harvest value creation is virtually absent and mainly confined to cleaning and artisanal oil production for the local market.
- In the last 5 years the programme was successful in efforts related to yield improvement for cost price reduction, farmers’ access to input credit, marketing credit for cooperatives to operate on spot markets (taking advantage of the high ECX prices and reducing the risk of traders’ collusion), first cleaning by cooperatives and unions, artisanal oil production for local markets using poorest sesame quality and production and marketing of rotation crops. Initiatives that did not achieve their goal included direct export of unions, trade missions, sesame quality management and grading, storage and conservation, investments in cleaning and oil extraction, development of organic value chains. Under prevailing circumstances, it proved almost impossible to develop feasible business initiatives and product and value chain development proved to be an uphill battle.
- Higher value markets (Middle East, Europe, North America, Japan and Korea) have clear requirements for the appearance, aroma, taste, oil content and purity of the product. Currently, buyers from these markets are not interested to directly source sesame from Ethiopian producers, mainly because of quality and food safety problems.
- Ethiopia has comparative advantages for producing highly valued white varieties (suitable for bakery industry), tasty varieties (suitable for tahini and halva consumers) and varieties with high oil content. There are also opportunities for value added products such as hulled, toasted, roasted, and grounded sesame, oil, tahini and halva.
- The inflated ECX prices are not to the disadvantage of farmers, however without market reform value chains are not developed and Ethiopia is losing its position in the increasingly competitive international sesame market. As of recent, the Government of Ethiopia has set out to control ECX prices, so as to avoid higher than international market prices. This may create a new business context, wherein ECX prices would be aligned with the international market prices. In the short run, this would not be an advantage to the farmers. Conditions for feasible post-harvest value adding activities would however be created: cleaning, storage, tracing and certification, processing, branding and labelling, packaging, wholesale and retail of food products. An important challenge is to develop these activities in a farmer-inclusive manner, e.g. to develop cooperative business activities.
- For developing post-harvest value creation and to establish real value chains with collaboration and transactions among different operators, a package of fundamental changes is required, some of which are the following:
- Provision of export licenses for professional sesame exporters (e.g. unions and cooperatives), who are not allowed to be engaged in import business. This will create a level playing field with current local buyers. An important accompanying measure is to promote alternative hard currency sources for importing companies.
- Development of a grading system that facilitates improved traceability, quality and food safety, with additional parameters like oil content, seed size and free fatty acid, allowing for market segmentation and price differentiation according to quality.
- Promotion of direct farmer-trader/company relations and a quality-based marketing system, which starts at field and spot market level. This would be feasible if ECX prices reflect world market prices. Joint investments in cleaning and storage facilities and management would be important in this context, as food safety is a major concern.
- Tax exemption for locally produced edible oils (sesame, sunflower and others) and promotion of sesame-based consumer goods for the domestic market. In the current situation, imported palm oil is subsidized to make it accessible for the Ethiopian population, while locally produced oils are taxed. This hinders a transformation to Ethiopian production of edible oils.
Contractual agreement boosts early generation seed supply in Amhara region: Lessons Learned from BENEFIT-ISSD Amhara Unit
One of the biggest challenges in raising the performance of the seed sector in Ethiopia is the current short supply of quality Early Generation Seed (EGS) of preferred varieties. EGS includes three different classes of seed, namely breeder, pre-basic and basic, that are used as the starting material from which certified seed is produced. Hence, by a different nomenclature, EGS is referred to as foundation seed.
Up until very recently, research centres were responsible to produce all four classes of seed, including certified seed in selected cases, with minimal interest from commercial enterprises. Both public and private certified seed producers, with the exception of Corteva Agriscience (which recently acquired Pioneer Hi-Bred), have historically limited their focus to certified seed only. Confounding the problem was the fact that researchers were expected to develop and release new varieties; maintain already released varieties; and research, develop and popularize other technologies that lead to crop improvement.
Due to this division of labour, weak integration, lack of coordination, unclear responsibility, minimal information on EGS quantity and variety demand, and coordinated planning, supply of EGS has been inadequate. Often, a mismatch between the supply of EGS by researchers and the demands of farmers was observed, and either too much or too little EGS of a given variety was supplied at great cost or missed opportunity. At times, request for basic seed would take up to two years to get sufficient quantities and seed producers struggle in responding to the needs of farmers.
Since 2017, BENEFIT ISSD Amhara Unit has been facilitating dialogues among different parties, to improve the linkage and coordination between researchers, early generation seed producers and farmers for sufficient and efficient supply of quality EGS. The effort resulted in an agreement to extend the responsibilities of certified seed producers to incorporate basic seed production, and focus the orientation of researchers on breeder and pre-basic seed multiplication exclusively.
The signing of a contractual agreement between certified seed producers and buyers (regulatory authority, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), public seed enterprises, private seed producers, research institutions, unions); singed in the presence of Amhara Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) resulted in
- A seed unit with dedicated team of researchers, established within the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) responsible for forecasting EGS demand and translating it into production plans for centres under its management.
- Forecasts started to be conducted by expert groups uniting researchers, early generation seed producers including Amhara Seed Enterprise (ASE) and selected private seed producers and seed unions.
- Specific agreements were reached on who produces what for whom, by in large shifting the orientation of researchers towards breeder and pre-basic seed exclusively and certified seed producers towards basic seed production. Bilaterally, contracts were signed between both parties defining the specific terms of EGS procurement, including quantity, date of delivery and payment.
- ISSD Ethiopia Amhara Unit effort in facilitating the discussions on contractual agreements led to (re) organized forecasting, joint planning and procurement, and inclusion of relevant actors to improve reliability of forecasts and generate consensus and trust.
- Contractual agreements monitored and mediated by BoA gave clarity, created a legal ground that can be enforced by both parties. In all cases, the BoA serves as a witness to and mediator of contractual agreements between seed producers and buyer. Overall, the system reduced the burden of BoA in managing EGS supply in the region.
- The seed unit within ARARI created capacity for managing the process, while the involvement of both the regional seed core group and Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) enhance accountability.
- To ensure success, it is relevant to give special attention to enforcing contracts, as deviations from and defaults on agreements were common. And it should be noted that actors are usually reluctant to commit to contractual agreements without external facilitation and pressure.
- There is still the issue of land shortage that is limiting EGS production and need attention.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
We are pleased to share with you, the BENEFIT Partnership Newsletter for the months of January-March 2020. In this issue, we bring you highlights of stories, updates and news from the five BENEFIT programmes – ISSD, CASCAPE, ENTAG, SBN and REALISE over the last three months.
Linked with the declaration of COVID-19 as global pandemic and the follow up measures taken by the Ethiopian government, BENEFIT Partnership has taken precautionary measures since March 16, 2020 that are aligned with WUR provisions and local measures taken. These are related with revision of annual plans and implementation strategies. In addition, there has been an internal discussion about how BENEFIT can contribute in line with its five programmes areas of expertise to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on food security in the country.
The ISSD Amhara Unit, in consultation with relevant seed sector stakeholders recently published a handbook on the region’s seed sector transformation challenges and possible way forward. The document gives insights on the Amhara region seed sector strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and provides guidance on how to unlock major challenges that are hindering progress. In addition, the document looks at other countries’ seed sector policy experiences, successful implementation strategies, responsibility of relevant stakeholders etc. The document was evaluated and validated at different workshops and believed to highly contribute to the transformation of the region’s seed sector.
Weather forecast for improved sesame farm management and yield loss reduction: Lessons learned from BENEFIT-SBN
Farmers in sesame production zone in Northwest Ethiopia have to deal with (increasingly) unpredictable weather conditions. And lack of weather forecast has been one of the major reasons for severe yield and post-harvest losses. Now, thanks to a pilot project, jointly run by National Metrological Agency (NMA), CommonSense and BENEFIT-SBN, they are able to reduce their risk of crop failure from heavy rainfalls or recurring dry spells by using accurate weather information via Short Message Service (SMS).
During the 2017 and 2018 cropping seasons, location-specific weather forecasting service was provided through weekly SMS messages informed more than 3,000 farmers and agriculture professionals about expected weather conditions. The farmers living area and production zones GPS coordinates were taken and the SMS was sent to registered farmers and professionals from 8338 number. It contained the next three days expectations in rainfall, temperature and wind, and was sent in local languages. ‘Training of trainers’ (ToT) training was organized to woreda and kebele agricultural experts and teachers (to incorporate in their daily lesson plan) on the meaning and interpretation of the forecast.
With the help of this weather information, sesame farmers and agricultural professionals were able to better plan their farm activities, to mitigate risks and increase resilience. They are making better decision regarding land preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting and related labour needs, and decide on post-harvest management activities to reduce yield losses. At the same time, weather forecasts were improved and fine-tuned, based on accuracy checking of forecasts and feedback from farmers.
Assessment conducted on delivery, understandability, accuracy and usefulness of the weather forecast SMS service pilot showed that such services can help develop sustainable and economically viable sesame value chain, improve sesame and rotation crops production and quality and reduce losses and risks. Field survey results confirmed that the weather forecast SMS service has significant effect on the performance of farmers’ farm activities, especially to avert risks related to weather conditions.
In addition to supporting farmers decision-making using weather information and agro-meteorology forecasts, the pilot institutional objectives were to evaluate the accuracy of the ECMWF model, to cross-fertilize the NMA and ECMWF models and to improve NMA services, both in terms of forecast reliability and reach to farmers. The weather forecasting service provided is based on the European Centre for Medium range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) model.
Key lessons learned and practical / institutional recommendations
1. It is important to deliver practical training and provide close follow-up to cascading training to agricultural professionals and farmers to ensure that the weather information in the SMS message is clearly understood. Even though the number has improved over the years, the assessment showed 13% of the sample farmers did not fully understand the text message properly.
2. Weather forecasts have to be in the local language. The date and period of the forecast, as well as the location for which it applies have to be clearly indicated.
3. To reach illiterate farmers (40% in the sesame zone), involvement of family members enrolled in education is important. Collaboration with schools and teachers providing and explaining weather information during lessons could improve the reach and understanding of weather forecast services.
4. Weather forecasting should start at the end of the dry season and continue until all crops are harvested and bagged, so that farmers benefit from weather information for all farming operations.
5. If possible, inclusion of seasonal forecasts can contribute to a better long term agricultural plan.
6. The provision of weather information has to be accompanied by the training on how to use it for farm management decisions. Weather forecast messages could be followed by messages indicating options for adapted farm management. This would require collaboration of the meteorological agency with agricultural research and extension. A call service that farmers could use for extra explanations would make the activity even more relevant. For example, using weather forecasts to protect cereals from rainfall damage by using plastic sheets for sesame stacking and drying. And for cereals, putting wood on top of sorghum and millet piles to protect them from the wind.
7. The only way for achieving sustainable results is through collaboration with institutions mandated for weather forecasting services, and ensuring continuous financing of weather forecast systems. Much attention has to be given to the testing of models with continuous feedback from the end users, and to modalities to reach out to (different categories) of farmers. Although a pilot may be largely based on project funding, modalities for sustainable funding are of fundamental importance. In the sesame zone, farmers, who have experienced the service, are ready to pay for the weather information. In the case of commercial commodities, like sesame, a levy system could also be an option. In addition, although the NMA was involved in the pilot and institutional objectives were clearly formulated, NMA recently decided that weather forecasts in Ethiopia should be based on the NMA model, even though the ECMWF model proved to be able to deliver precise, location-specific forecasts. This created an impasse, causing the interruption of services to farmers in the current season (2019).
Mr. Gurshaw Yilma, a 33 year old sesame farmer who lives in Tegede woreda, North Gondar zone, Amhara region, has been using weather forecast text messages to plan his farm activities. Rainfall forecasts are most important to him. He said “The SMS message I received alerted me to do harvesting and threshing earlier as rain was expected. I usually have two permanent laborers who normally perform the threshing activity. This year, after I received the SMS that indicated a high chance of rain earlier than usual, I decided to hire six additional labours to finish the harvesting, stalked and threshing before the rain. I was able to reduce the risk of post-harvest losses (seed falling from the capsule) that could have happened because of unexpected heavy rain.”
In addition to this, following SMS message indicating very high chance of rain, Mr. Gurshaw covered his pile his harvested millet with a plastic sheets to prevent damage and his harvested forage that was left in the field to dry, to protect his animals from fungal disease.
Sesame production in North West Ethiopia mostly depends on human labour. Recently, due to shortage and high costs of labour, you observed a high level of farmers’ interest in mechanization. Mechanisation is proven to increase overall productivity and reduce cost of production representing a value of millions of dollars. It contributes to improved timeliness and quality of field activities that can improve soil, water, pest and weed management.
Even though the sesame zone is very suitable for mechanization, adoption of tested mechanization options is limited due to several reasons:
- limited knowledge on how mechanization contributes to productivity improvement;
- skill limitations in operating and maintaining machineries;
- lack of loan facilities for different farmer groups and absence of lease financing mechanism;
- under-developed machinery supply chain, with limitations of after sales services and spare parts; and
- under-used potential of machinery rental services.
- Even though tailored mechanisation recommendations for different farm categories are available, getting access to appropriate tractors is a key challenge. Several machines for small, medium and commercial farms were tested for efficient sesame seed sowing, weeding and harvesting. However, adaptations and further testing are required. In line with this, it is relevant to support innovation centers for continuous technology development, testing, selection and promotion of machineries and implements like ploughs, planters, cultivators, harvesters and ripper binders that are durable, efficient, easy to operate and maintain.
- While there has been a lot of effort and interest in machinery testing (the hardware), less attention was given to the financing of mechanization and business model development (the software). Recently, the Government of Ethiopia started to allow tax-free purchase of machineries for farmers, cooperatives and unions, which removes an important financial barrier for mechanizing the sector. In addition we need to encourage and implement lease financing for sesame farmers and cooperatives, with active role and dedicated sesame sector mechanization lease financing budgets from Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) and other financing companies (Walya and Kaza). In the short-term we need to support advanced cooperatives eligible for lease financing to exploit the tax exemption privilege and acquire a mechanisation package (tractor, row planter and trailer).
- Furthermore, mechanization efforts do not give sufficient attention to the preparation of skilled labour to professionally operate and maintain tractors and equipment. The same holds true for repair and replacement facilities, especially in the remote rural areas. Due to poor performance of locally made animal drawn planters, mechanized row planting for smallholders remains a challenge (and an opportunity for manufacturers). Mechanisation can also contribute to professional job creation (labourers, machinery operators, workshops providing maintenance service, rental service providers, …).
- It is relevant to create conducive working environments for qualified and equipped private enterprises, cooperatives and organized youth groups to engage in providing agricultural machinery rental service to farmers. This can be done through developing viable business models and provision of training on efficient service provision, business and client management.
- Periodically revise economic policies, looking at loan products and interest rates, as well as legal and regulatory frameworks.
Click here to look at examples of sesame mechanization options tested