Coordination of Resilient Development in Ethiopia

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Peace (MoP) in Ethiopia and development partners organized a two-day workshop on ‘Coordination of Resilient Development in Ethiopia’. The purpose of the workshop was to enhance coordination in resilience building processes; discuss ownership, institutionalization and sustainability of coordination structures and gender sensitive coordination of resilience building processes. The workshop was held from April 10-11, 2019 at Liesak Resort, Bisoftu.

Although the workshop aimed to strengthen coordination among stakeholders involved in relief and development initiatives, the overall discussion was dominated by coordination among relief and emergency interventions. On the April 11th discussion, BENEFIT-REALISE flagged its concern that the role of Research and Development programmes in resilience building was sidelined. As a result, a separate group discussion was organized between FAO, UNDP, BENEFIT-REALISE, and a Canada supported Initiative who agreed on the relevance of strengthening coordination among resilience development programmes to ensure long-term impact. Looking forward, the team also agreed to map out potential partners to be involved in the resilience coordination and develop a standard operating procedure to guide the coordination efforts. A meeting will be organized to identify a champion organization to co-chair resilience building coordination among development partners.

With regard to gender mainstreaming in coordination, it was suggested for MoP to hire a Senior Gender Expert who will be a member of the higher coordination body (Pastoral Multi Actors Platform – PASMAP) and lead the gender taskforce. This can be applied both at federal and regional levels.

By Tewodros Tefera (PhD), BENEFIT-REALISE Programme Manager, Ethiopia

ICT for agricultural extension in Ethiopia: current status and potential ICT solutions

Recognizing the relevance of ICT development solutions for improved agricultural extension services, and its contribution towards timely adoption of available best fit practices, the BENEFIT Partnership programme participated in a one-day “ICT for agricultural extension in Ethiopia” conference on April 11, 2019 at ILRI campus. The conference was organized by MoA in collaboration with ILRI, Farm Radio and Digital Green. The main objectives of the conference were (i) to enhance the understanding of the current and potential ICT solutions for agricultural extension services in Ethiopia; (ii) to establish a technical working group to facilitate dialogue, joint learning and collaboration among ICT solution providers, users, policy makers and investors; and (iii) to generate inputs for the development and implementation of a guideline, for the ICT pillar of the National Agricultural Extension Strategy.

The conference was attended by policy makers from MOA, officials of development partners, ICT solution providers, agricultural practitioners, donors and agricultural extension professionals.

Content wise, the conference started with an official opening session that emphasized the importance of appropriate public measures to improve the agriculture sector. The presentation showed, even though Ethiopia’s national agricultural extension systems has more than 60,000 Development Agents (DAs) and about 14,000 Farmers Training Centers (FTCs), the coverage of the service is limited with an estimated reach of 25% (14 million smallholder farmers). In this regard, the importance of ICT in the agricultural extension services was mentioned in terms of its contribution to (i) strengthen the skill and knowledge of actors especially in terms of empowering extension agents; (ii) the possibility of expansion the reach of the extension services; and (iii) improving the contents of the agricultural extension services through digital feedback systems.

A panel discussion was held following the poster presentations of 14 ICT solutions implemented in Ethiopia by diverse actors. The conclusion of the discussions made can be summarized as follow:

  1. MoA to play a leading role in strengthening the collaborations among ICT solution producers, agricultural research organizations, agricultural service providers, market actors and end users (farmers and pastoralists);
  2. Engaging with both public and private actors to ensure the expansion and improved access to required ICT infrastructure; and
  3. The need to ensure relevance and quality of content by improving not only extension-farmers linkage but also strengthening Research-Education-Extension-Farmers’ linkage. This requires for the ICT solution providers to consider these dimensions of extension service provision.

The conference was concluded by highlighting that ICT application in the agricultural service is at its infant stage and the need to continue the discussion by organizing follow up events by the organizing committee members (MoA, ILRI, Digital Green and Farm Radio).

By Dawit Alemu (PhD), The BENEFIT Partnership Manager, Ethiopia

ISSD conducted its second writeshop to develop training manual on seed business management

The objective of the writeshop held on March 25-29, 2019 was to highlight and document ISSD-Ethiopia’s approach related to its four key performance areas through user friendly training manuals / modules and create better understand on Local Seed Business (LSBs) and Seed Producer Cooperatives (SPCs) development pathway. Accordingly,13 ISSD regional unit experts (3 seed business development and marketing experts, 5 seed experts and 5 farm organization experts) developed 12 unified ISSD training manuals and proposed activities for different categories of LSB/SPCs as per the sustainability evaluation criteria agreed upon. The training materials on seed business management were designed to support different stakeholders and partners organization build the capacity of extension.

Overall, 12 training manuals (4 in quality seed production, 4 in business orientation and 4 in LSB/SPC organizational and financial management) were finalized. During the process the manuals were edited as per a manual template provided, and ISSD success stories, lessons learned / failures and pictures and ten Do’s and don’ts were incorporated.

The process started with identifying the manual user groups (experts of different organizations, seed producers, scaling partners), followed by peer review on the draft manuals to ensure they are user friendly (good parts, missing elements and additional elements to be added). The participants also shared cases, stories, lessons, etc… in their respective regions, and identified those relevant to incorporate in the manuals.

The next session on pathway for LSB development, was relevant to better conceptualize local seed business models; have insight into critical issues of LSB/SPC development and be inspired to further support LSBs/SPCs in their development efforts.

During the reflection session the experts acknowledged the relevance of the tool, and noted that low reinvestment experience of LSB/SPS’s and the current seed marketing system which is dominated by public seed enterprises, coupled with low marketing experience of LSB/SPCs attributed for low score of most LSB/SPCs. Lack of enabling environment for direct seed marketing and lack of experience and capacity to sale produce directly to end users affects the profitability level, profit margin as well as reinvestment capacity of LSB/SPCs.

Some experts also suggested to make land size criterion crop specific (cereals verses vegetables), since LSB/SPCs can be profitable and sustainable when they produce vegetable and forage seed on irrigated land with less than 30 ha. But it was agreed to use 30ha land size criterion since most of the LSB/SPCs are mainly engaged in cereals and pulses seed production.

Contributed by Teshome Lakew, National Seed Business Development & Marketing Expert, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopian Programme

Increasing the productivity of women in agriculture – impact stories

Engaging women in agriculture research interventions enables them to aspire for better life, build assets, get a source of income, increase their yield, and enhance their access to agriculture training and technologies. This is proven by BENEFIT Partnership programmes where mainstreams gender and nutrition is a core component in all interventions.

Evidences show interventions that involved women (female headed households as well as wives in male headed households) contribute to enhance household food security, increase in income, improved nutrition and better access to education of children. Overall it increases women capability, confidence and contribution toward improved livelihood. Read more stories of women who benefited from technology testing and demonstration of BENEFIT programmes.

National Seminar on Agricultural Mechanization and Commercial Agriculture

A joint seminar on agricultural mechanization and commercial agriculture was organized by the Policy Study Institute (PSI) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to deliberate on international and national experiences as an input for Ethiopian policy makers. The seminar was held on March 25, 2019 at Best Western Hotel, Addis Ababa. As mechanization, and in recent years commercial farming have become one of the priorities of the Ethiopia agricultural transformation agenda of Ethiopia, the seminar saw high level attendance, by among others, HE Mr. Daisuke Matsunaga – Japanese Ambassador to Ethiopia, PSI Director – Ato Ahmed Abetew, MoA Director General – Ato Germame Garuma – Amhara Bureau of Agriculture Head, Dr Bosena Tegegn and Dr Bart Minton from IFPRI and Dr Irene Koomen from BENEFIT Partnership, WUR.

The first presentation by Prof Keijiro Otsuka of Kobe University, Japan focused on mechanization for smallholder farmers. Prof Otsuka key messages included (i) it is more costly to use large scale machines than using small-scale machines; (ii) in spite of increase in cost of production, mechanizations does not increase productivity significantly; and (iii) labour saving due to use of large scale machines implies significant job loss. Accordingly, he argued that large scale mechanization in low income countries is a mistake and recommended being careful with large scale mechanization programmes within the context of a country transitioning for low to middle income. Mechanization options have to be context and locality specific. Farm size is also an important indicator for the success or failure of mechanization, where there is inverse relationship between farm size and productivity levels (yield /ha). In other words, small family farms are more efficient that large farms based on hired labour.

The second presentation by Dr. Tadesse Kuma of PSI focused on status of large and medium scale commercial farming in Ethiopia. The main messages of Dr Tadesse were that the overall performance of current licenced commercial farming and those under implementation is very low resulting in abundance of un-utilized fertile land that could have been used by smallholders. Those under implementation are utilizing a small proportion of land allocated. The key reasons for poor performance of the commercial farming sector was reported to be (i) poor initial assessment about the relevance in terms of experience and capacity to run commercial farms; (ii) limited follow up and support by relevant public authorities to the licenced commercial farms; and (iii) poor technical and financial capacity of commercial farms in farming.

The Ethiopian government’s intention to promote commercial farming was (i) to ensure knowledge and technology transfer to the surrounding smallholder farmers; (ii) to boost the availability of required raw materials for the emerging agro-industry sector; (iii) to enhance foreign currency earnings through promoting agricultural export; and (iv) to create rural job opportunities.

The discussions following the presentations reassured (i) the need to be context specific in promoting agricultural mechanizations; (ii) mechanization related activities to be market driven; and (iii) the need to revisit the approaches being followed to promote commercial farming in the country

The seminar was relevant to better understand the different strategic options of promoting agricultural mechanization in Ethiopia based on the experiences in several countries as it informs ongoing discussions and efforts made by BENEFIT in facilitation of improved mechanization for both smallholder farmers and commercial farms.

Contribution by BENEFIT PCU

Taking DSM from pilot to institutionalization in Ethiopia

BENEFIT-ISSD in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) held a half-day meeting to review successes achieved in Direct Seed Marketing (DSM) pilots, create a better understanding of the newly endorsed DSM directive and agree on way forward towards institutionalization. The meeting was held on March 21, 2019 at Bin hotel in Bishoftu. It was attended by over 40 participants representing high officials from MoA, Bureau of Agriculture (BoA) from four regional states (Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), public and private seed enterprises and ISSD staff from Addis Ababa.

ISSD’s effort on DSM started with a pilot in two woredas and two seed producing companies in 2011. Eight years later, in collaboration with ATA the effort has reached 228 woredas, serving 1.4 million farmers, accounting for 60% of 2018 seed sells  in the country, with support of 1400 seed marketing agents. For 2019, the projection is to add 160 woredas bringing the total number of DSM implementing woredas to 350.

Considering the life of the pilot, the number of woredas covered, successes achieved and the recent endorsement of the seed market directive, all agreed the next phase is to raise awareness of the directives and make it operational at regional level towards institutionalization of the concept of seed marketing.

Following three presentations by ATA and ISSD, the plenary discussion led by H.E. Ayinalem Nigussie, State Minister of MOA and Seifu Assefa Agricultural Input Marketing Directorate, Director focused on the directive, role of MoA and RoA, governance, finance, resource and capacity.

The meeting ended with remark from H.E. Ayinalem who thanked ISSD and ATA for their continuous effort in promoting seed marketing, and ISSD for organizing this meeting to take the institutionalization process one step further. She noted that even though the successes achieved so far are very encouraging, we need to ensure the institutionalization process is a success to bring systematic and sustainable change.


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