Research-Extension-University Linkage Platform Meeting Showed Promising Results

EIAR-MOA-CASCAPE joint workshop was organized to evaluate the results of large scale joint demonstration of agricultural technologies based on BENEFIT-CASCAPE piloted PAR (Participatory Action Research) approach. The workshop was held on March 12, 2019 at Executive Hotel, Adama. This is part of the research-extension university linkage platform which forms sub-platform of ADPLAC (Agriculture Development Partners Linkage Advisory Council) that was established based on CASCAPE-initiated programme of strengthening Research-Extension-University linkages.

The work towards strengthening collaboration and linkage between extension, research and higher learning institutes started in 2018 with a study commissioned by BENEFIT-CASCAPE in partnership with MOA to better understand the gaps in linkages between the three institutions. The findings of the assessment were shared with relevant stakeholders at “The Hawassa Convention” where EIAR was assigned to lead the effort. In May 2018, BENEFIT-CASCAPE organized a high level workshop at Beshouftu to identify missing links opportunities to ensure effective and efficient technology transfer. Since then, a series of meetings were conducted to turn lesson and opportunities into action, leading to the initiation of “High impact partnership project”. This is BENEFIT-CASCAPE ‘s efforts towards institutionalization of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach and institutional innovation that brings together researchers, extensionists and universities to work together for a better and lasting impact. With endorsement by the Minister of MoA and under direct supervision of the state minister, the Research-Extension-University linkage platform is now officially institutionalized within the MoA. CASCAPE will continue supporting the establishment of the regional platform as sub-set of the ADPLAC.

Since 2018, EIAR has been leading the sub-platform including setting up of large scale demonstrations on strategic commodities (maize, teff, wheat, malt barley, sesame and sorghum) on 100 ha per commodity per region for high level policy engagement and extension dissemination. Researchers in four regions (TARI, ARARI, OARI and SARI) were presenting the results of the 2018 demonstrations during the joint workshop in Adama (12-13 March 2019) and identify gaps, challenges and opportunities to be considered in the 2019 collaborative planning process.

The workshop was attended by over 70 experts and relevant stakeholders including MOA State Minister, EIAR Director General, presidents and deans of universities and BENEFIT-CASCAPE Manager and staff.  The meeting was relevant to appreciate and recognize the first attempt towards large scale full package demonstration to identify factors that affect scaling potential and promote sustained large-scale scaling of technologies that can transform the agriculture sector.

The project aims to design large-scale (atleast 100ha per commodity) geographic focused technology demonstrations to enhance technology dissemination and adoption, promote action research and complementarity, strengthen linkage between the three institutions and document best practice and experiences to promote joint learning. EIAR, RARIs and universities met in their respective regions to develop concept notes and action plans with budget requirements, signed MoUs that spells out the roles and responsibilities of each institution, made strategic selection of technologies, formed necessary teams to implement the selected interventions and conducted joint monitoring and evaluation.

The presentations highlighted the project was beneficial in establishing joint planning and advocacy, cost sharing, building joint capacity development of stakeholders, and conducting joint monitoring and learning. In total 23 technologies were demonstrated in 21 zones in large scale clusters.

The discussion in the afternoon focused on strengthening the approach and modalities, inclusion of horticulture, livestock, mechanization, labor saving technologies in future initiatives, efficient utilization of water resources, capitalizing on universities’ expertise and community service resources, sustainability of the forum, understanding scaling in terms of inputs, addressing acidic soil issues at national level, and forming linkages at regional levels etc.

Following the discussion, it was noted that last year’s planning was done hastily and the focus on crop was intentional considering this is the first year of the project. Other agricultural issues will be considered as linkage strengthens among the institutions. It was also highlighted that the key is not about signing MOUs but changing our way of thinking and working to address the critical issue that only 1/3 of available technologies are being adopted by the farming community. At the end the team agreed to extend their effort to engage more universities, include other regions and evaluate comments and feedbacks raised to refine their 2019 plan focusing on strength of each institution.

Overall the participants acknowledged and appreciated the new practice of using piloted approach to bring systematic change; accomplishments achieved in this first attempt; EIAR for its openness and leadership to take this initiative forward; and BENEFIT-CASCAPE for the critical role the programme played in initiating this effort and its intermediary role in linking research demonstration and extension level demonstration.

At the end, BENEFIT-CASCAPE affirmed its commitment to support this effort in the coming year and universities’ representatives promised to do their part to ensure the success and sustainably of this effort.




Guiding soil characterization and mapping activities in Ethiopia

Soil characterization and mapping taskforce, established to support and guide soil characterization and mapping activities in Ethiopia held its first meeting on March 4, 2019, at Pyramid Hotel in Bishoftu. The taskforce, funded by BENEFIT-REALISE programme is a team assigned on 21 Jan 2019 by H.E Dr. Kaba Urgessa, the State Minister of Natural Resources and Food Security, Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to ensure quality of soil characterization and mapping activities and institutionalize soil mapping methodology. The members of the taskforce are  drawn from MoA, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), BENEFIT Partnership progammes – CASCAPE and REALISE.

The first meeting of the taskforce focused on better understanding of BENEFIT-REALISE soil mapping activities, discuss the roles and responsibilities of the taskforce, and define core activities and approaches.

The meeting started with an overall discussion on institutionalization of soil mapping methodology – soil maps that include soil types across landforms, along with soil fertility maps, to support soil fertility and health management decision making. It was highlighted that soil maps are also used to develop recommendation maps, which in turn can be used for building appropriate technology scaling strategies.

The taskforce discussed and agreed on:

  • ToR of the taskforce,
  • Frequency of meetings of the taskforce,
  • Identification process of the soil surveyors and assistant surveyors,
  • Importance and involvement of GIS experts,

Scale of the map whether to use 1:50,000 or 1:250,000 needs further discussion and decision.  In addition, the use of machine learning which also encompasses random forest model needs further discussion.

During the meeting Ato Kiflu Gudeta, Director for Soil Information and Mapping Directorate of MOA, was officiated as the chairperson of the taskforce while BENEFIT-REALISE will serve the taskforce as a secretariat.

EIAR, ATA and BENEFIT signed a tripartite agreement for joint validation of appropriate technologies and fertilizer recommendations

Ethiopia Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR), Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint validation of technologies, identification of appropriate fertilizer recommendations and scaling strategies for successful technology promotion. The MoU was signed by Director General of EIAR, Dr. Mandefro Nigusse, BENEFIT Manager, Dr. Dawit Alemu and ATA  Chief Executive Officer, Khalid d Bomba. The MoU signing ceremony took place on March 5, 2019.

The MoU provides a framework that governs cooperation and clearly sets the modalities of collaboration with specific roles and responsibilities of the three institutions. The collaboration between EIAR and BENEFIT will focus on technology sharing, validation and pre-scaling activities to supply appropriate technologies including crop varieties, seed, labor saving technologies and to disseminate and pre-scale EIAR technologies to the wider farming communities.  EIAR, ATA and BENEFIT will work together to validate and amend the current blanket blend fertilizer recommendation to develop site and crop specific recommendation of blend fertilizer type and indicative rate for 10 woredas on 4 major crops. The main purpose of the MoU is to overcome the currently existing blanket fertilizer application recommendations that may lead farmers to over-fertilize in some areas and under-fertilize in others, or apply an improper balance of nutrients for their soil or crop.

This joint effort also aims to enhance collaborative culture to improve the research extension linkage through joint validation activities and joint learning to contribute to wider impacts.

BENEFIT partnership singed the MoU on behalf of its two programmes namely Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security in Ethiopia (REALISE) and Capacity Building for Scaling up of Evidence based Best Fit Practices in Agriculture Production in Ethiopia (CASCAPE).

The MoU will be effective from the date of signature of both parties until 2020.

BENEFIT annual report 2018

The focus of the 2018 BENEFIT partnership have been on (i) further demonstration of evidences for the agricultural transformation agenda and enhancing the engagement to effectively communicate the evidences for development and policy; (ii) alignment with relevant initiatives including the Agricultural Transformation Agency, the Agricultural Growth Programme, and the Productive Safety Net Programme and other public programmes for synergy; (iii) creating evidences from by scaling of product & place and thematic collaborative activities; and (iv) strengthening of the mainstreaming of crosscutting issues mainly gender and nutrition in all BENEFIT programmes. The programme was also reviewed for its mid-term achievements by external consultants.

hand with leaf     1,813,946 farmers reached with increased productivity (direct and indirect)

264,674 farmers reached directly: 25% ♀ and 75% ♂; 28% youth under 35 years.

1.388.861 farmers reached with improved access to input markets

56,982 persons reached/trained with improved technology and skills: 40% ♀  and 60% ♂; 27% youth under 35 years.

261,334 trained farmers in sustainable agricultural production & practices: 31% ♀ and 69% ♂; 29% youth under 35 years.

4,525 farmers reached with improved access to output markets 20% ♀ and 80% ♂

Contributed to 19 substantial policy changes



114,998 of hectares of farm land used more eco-efficiently (direct and indirect)

1,048 companies with supported plan to invest, trade or provide services


For the complete executive summary click BENEFIT 2018 annual report executive summary

Food system analysis to better understand the impact pathways and driver of food system change

On February 26 BENEFIT held a half day discussion on how to engage in food system analysis to better understand the impact pathways and driver of food system change.  The discussion was led by Ruerd Ruben (WUR Impact Assessment for Food Systems).   The session that was attended by 7 BENEFIT staff members, was relevant to better understand the key components that make a system intervention –  activities (interventions) that support changes in  the relationships (interactions) between FS activities/stakeholders that are likely to result in better (improved) diets.

The presentation and discussion focused on understanding key elements and dynamics of food system,  link between food system and nutrition and health outcomes, overlapping burdens of malnutrition, how to do food system analysis, relevance of tailoring food system to consumer’s motive and social norms, the role of the public in sharing a conducive food environment and improving food standards etc.

The discussion centered around possible entry points (‘drivers of change’) –  policy incentives (prices, norms & standards), business Innovations (market contracts, new products, smart ICT, management practices, etc.) and civic-driven campaigns (training, information, networks, participation in governance, etc.).

The new face of wheat – Unlocking the potential of wheat farmers in Omonada district, Southwestern Ethiopia

Wheat has been an important traditional staple crop in southwestern Ethiopia for generations. But for Chaleleka Donga Kebele (ie Peasant Association) farmers, wheat is starting to have a new meaning. Today, through BENEFIT-CASCAPE (CApacity building and SCAling up of evidence-based best Practices in Ethiopia) programme, farmers are producing sur-plus wheat, signs of new technologies are visible on small plots of land, and above all the programme succeeded in changing the mindsets of farmers beyond subsistence farming into market-oriented farming.

Read here the story of two farmers, Alifya Abasharaf, a 35 year-old mother of five and Rida Abagumbul, a 40 year-old father of seven who improved their livelihoods by transforming their small plots of land into income producing businesses.

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