Institutionalizing crowd sourcing (CS) and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) in Amhara Region

Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) – Amhara Unit in Ethiopia held a one day workshop to promote institutionalization of Crowd Sourcing (CS) and Participatory Varietal Selection (PVS) approaches in Amhara Region. Following its two years experiences in CS and PVS, the programme activities in 2019 focus on institutionalizing best practices and developing strategies towards sustainability and ownership. Overall the workshop was instrumental and a success to share ISSD two years experiences, provide intensive training on CS, PVS, gender and layout and design practice on ClimMob software, plan together next year’s CS and PVS, reach consensus built on the technical backstopping anticipated from ISSD and sign a memorandum of understanding with relevant stakeholders.

The strategy designed to guide the activities in the coming year was conducted with research center directors, university research and community vice presidents and BoA deputy heads and other relevant stakeholders.

Following presentations on CS and PVS experiences in 2017 and 2018, lessons learned and challenges encountered in the implementation process; an in-depth discussion was held on “how to institutionalization”. Even though there was great reluctance and reservations to continue CS and PVS without the support of ISSD, consensus was reached for ISSD and BoA to build on supporting the stakeholders through small grant and capacity building activities until they are capable to run the activities independently. Universities and research centers took the responsibility of cascading the activities with minimal support from ISSD until the end of this year. BoA also promised to support universities and research centers through uplifting CS activities into more woredas.

A memorandum of understanding between ISSD Amhara unit, research centers and universities was signed on next year’s CS and PVS activities.  Training was also provided by ISSD-Amhara unit and the Programmer Management Unit (PMU) on ClimMob software, CS, PVS and gender and how to design trails for university and research center focal persons.

At the end, ISSD assured it commitment to support facilitation and provide consultation while partners fully implement the planned activities. A total of 25 participants representing WoA, universities, research centers, BENEFIT projects attended the institutionalization workshop.

Capacity building on mainstreaming nutrition in agriculture

Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) conducted a Training of Trainers (ToT) on Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) from April 30th-May 4th, 2019 at Executive Hotel, Adama. The objective of the training was to enhance the knowledge, skills and Practices (KAP) of staff at Regional and Zonal Agricultural offices, Regional Agricultural Research Centers as well as guide the nutrition practices of partner organizations operating in Oromia region. As close collaborators and partners, BENEFIT programmes (BENEFIT PCU, CASCAPE, ISSD and REALISE) attended the ToT.

The Ministry shared the newly developed NSA Training Manual which aims to contribute towards improving the nutritional status of mothers and children in Ethiopia by providing a framework that guides the activities of practitioners at grassroots level. It provides technical inputs on the contribution of good nutritional status to human resource development by linking it with diversified production, market, gender and WASH. More practical sessions were held on appropriate intervention approaches for improved nutrition, social and behavioral change, and multi-sectoral coordination. Following the completion of the Training Manual, the Ministry has organized ToTs in Tigray, Amhara and SNNP, and the session in Adama was organized particularly for Oromia region.

The training was a great opportunity to discuss future collaboration with the Ministry and better understand its implementing structures at regional and zonal levels.

By Selamawit Firdissa and Addisalem Ambaye

Strengthening partnership to support the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture Women’s Affairs Directorate

The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Women’s Affairs Directorate (WAD) requested technical and financial support from its partners to strengthen its activities from Federal to Woreda level. This was raised during the Ethiopian Network for Gender Equality in Agriculture (ENGEA) advisory team meeting held by Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Addis Ababa on 06 May 2019. Support areas highlighted included

  1. Capacity building of MOA WAD office staff through training and various engagements
  2. Familiarising/cascading policy documents of MOA WAD office to the regions (for example the national gender equality strategy)
  3. Translate the national gender equality strategy to local languages
  4. Hiring technical advisors for the WAD office
  5. Preparation of standard training manual, translated to local languages

The ENGEA was established in Addis Ababa on December 29th, 2015 to ensure gender responsiveness of agricultural policies, strategies, programs, projects and plans through coordination of knowledge, experience sharing among stakeholders, systematic analysis and prioritization of issues. The network includes representatives of NGOs (local and international), the government and its affiliates, bilateral and multilateral organizations representing academia and research entities operating around gender issues. The Advisory Team of ENGEA includes 12 members: Oxfam International, CARE, USAID, CRS, BENEFIT, SNV, ILRI, EIAR, World Bank, Canadian Embassy, Orthodox Church Development Organization and the Ministry of Women and Children. The team members were selected looking at their active engagement in the sector and the their ability to fully commit expert’s time to serve in the team.

Contributed by Selamawit Firdissa

 

Congratulations to the winners of 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food

The 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food is awarded to Dr. Baldwyn Torto (International Centre of Insect Physiology & Ecology, Kenya) in the “Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development” category; Dr. Jan Leach (Colorado State University, USA) in the “Distinguished Scientist” category and Dr. Julius Adewopo (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, Rwanda) in the “Young Promising Scientist” category. The winners will receive a plaque certificate and prize of €20,000 each.

The 2019 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security, has been awarded in parallel to the project “Innovation Mapping for Food Security – IM4FS” led by Dr. Tomaso Ceccarelli (Wageningen Environmental Research, The Netherlands) and Dr. Elias Eyasu Fantahun (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia). The winning research project receives US$75,000 funding to support its further development.

The 2019 Award ceremony will be held in Montpellier (France) during the 4th World Congress on Agroforestry, the 22nd of May, 2019. [Read the full press release here]

FROM SUBSISTENCE TO COMMERCIALLY ORIENTED AGRICULTURE – Papaya production in Southern Zone of Tigray

One of BENEFIT-CASCAPE (CApacity building and SCAling up of evidence-based best Practices in Ethiopia) intervention, “Improved Papaya Production”, is changing the farm lands of Raya Azebo into income producing assets. Through innovative evidence based approach, effective partnership and continuous support, the drought prone area with unreliable rainfall has changed into pockets of oasis covered with fruits and vegetables. Today, many farmers have moved away from traditional food staples farming to becoming cash crop producers. They have regular source of income, diversified their crops improving their household food security, improved their nutritional status and managed to increase their productive assets. The following is a testimony of one family who succeeded in completely changing their lives through selection of the right commodity, improved variety, technology and management.  [Read the story here]

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

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