- Innovation capacity development
The capacity to innovate by the value chain actors was identified as a key factor for a participatory smallholder market oriented agricultural development. The project therefore focused on strengthening innovation capacity of farmers, pastoralists, community-based and private sector organizations, and agriculture and natural resource management public organizations, through technical and entrepreneurial skills development and, facilitating linkages between relevant actors.
The various approaches and methods used are briefly described.
- MSc/BSc Training
The project established MSc/BSc fellowship program to enhance skills of the staff from the MoARD (federal, regional, zonal and PLW level) and Ethiopian Agricultural Research System in areas which complement existing technical skills. These include agricultural economics, marketing, extension, gender and knowledge management. Students are enrolled in local universities, mostly in specially designed summer programs which enable them to continue their normal work during the rest of the year. The project aims for a balanced enrollment of male and female students. A total of around 130 staff are presently enrolled in this program. As a by-product of the fellowships initiative, the interaction between project staff and the universities and Agricultural Technical Vocational and Educational Training Colleges (ATVETs) was greatly enhanced providing the project with opportunities to influence curricula and course work of Agricultural Universities.
- In-service training
Most of the subject matter specialists (SMS) and development agents (DAs) in the PLWs have been trained on topics related to crops, livestock and natural resource management with little or no emphasis on extension and related topics. The project therefore embarked on an in-service training program aimed at building the capacity of the staff on topics such as participatory extension, mainstreaming of gender issues and HIV/AIDS risk mitigation, marketing extension and the use of relevant computer programs and Internet use. The project prepared and published training materials tailored to the Ethiopian and project context, which subsequently can support capacity development outside the project implementation sites.
In service training on topics that enhance technical skills on market-oriented agriculture is organized with the help of partner institutions, including research, regional BoARD and Universities. Selected lead men and women farmers are selected for such training sessions.
Training was also provided to staff from the credit organizations to facilitate business plan development for the project’s credit innovation fund.
The project also organizes training on results-based monitoring and evaluation, rapid market assessment, linking farmers to markets, business plan development, environmental assessment and monitoring, and GIS to enhance the capacity of specialized staff at PLW, zonal and regional level. Training materials have been developed for several of these topics.
- Capacity development of farmers and private sector partners.
Capacity development of farmers and private sector partners for commercial agricultural production is supported by the project with the help of partner institutions. Training is often practical and hands-on and includes field visits and is conducted in Farmer Training Centers (FTCs) by DAs, subject matter specialists and/or research staff. Joint trainings of husbands and wives are organized in some PLWs. While most training is targeted at commodity producers, some trainings target specialized producers of inputs for these crops. These include i) nursery operators for fruits and coffee and ii) seed producers for cereals, beans/pulses and vegetables iii) paravets, iv) private crop spraying and v) irrigation pump maintenance. In marketing and processing, the project facilitates training for small scale dairy processing and marketing and small scale processing and retail marketing of agricultural produce.
Partnerships/linkages are considered to be a key ingredient for the development of market-oriented agricultural development. The main functions of such partnerships are i) to share knowledge and learn together and thus synthesize “new” knowledge and ii) to facilitate governance for the development of a commodity or program. The project has been doing this in a formal way by establishing Woreda Advisory and Learning Committee (WALCs) in each of the PLWs. These committees are comprised of stakeholders involved in the value chain and their responsibilities include guidance for the program development, including some budgetary responsibility and stimulation of learning and knowledge sharing between partners including organization of seminars and workshops. Besides these formal structures, the project also encourages more ad hoc linkages for specific commodities (also referred to as commodity platforms) amongst rural producers (marketing groups), traders and/or input suppliers. In addition, Regional Advisory and Learning Committees (RALCs) have been established in each of the four regional states to provide overall guidance and follow-up of project activities with the intention of scaling up the experiences acquired at PLW level.\
2. Knowledge Management
The project’s baseline studies reveal that even though most farmers receive information on production technologies, translating such information into actionable understanding (knowledge) and adoption of technologies was limited. Since access to relevant knowledge is one of the key factors that determine agricultural production & productivity improvements, developing a knowledge management system that can help address this challenge was chosen as a focus area of the IPMS project.
There are many methods, processes and tools available to assist knowledge needs and availability assessment, capturing and synthesis. The project focuses on selected knowledge management tools, approaches, and methods that are relevant and practical to the on-the-ground realities of the extension staff, DAs and farmers in the Woredas in which it operates. Following are areas of knowledge management the project has been trying to develop.
a. Ethiopian Agriculture Portal
The project in partnership with the federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development (MoARD) established the Ethiopian Agriculture Portal (EAP) www.eap.gov.et, EAP is a web-based gateway to agricultural information resources relevant to Ethiopian agriculture.
The portal is intended to assist experts in the extension system, researchers, policy makers, students, NGOs, CBOs, and other stakeholders in Ethiopian agriculture by availing timely and relevant agricultural information resources. The EAP aggregates information from diverse national and international sources in a simple and logically structured user interface. Documents are added to the portal after screening by a group of content managers that review each document for its relevance, timeliness, accuracy, and level-of-complexity in light of the target audiences.
Since access to the Internet is not always available, the project has developed an offline version of the portal that provides local (offline) access to most of the features of the online version of the EAP.
b. Woreda Knowledge Centers
The project has established agricultural knowledge centers in each of the PLWs, zones, regional bureaus of agriculture, and regional agricultural research institutes, where it operates. There are currently 28 such centers. Each center has five computers, a printer, a TV set, DVD Player, books, manuals, training materials, and in some locations selected demonstration materials. These centers provide the Woreda extension personnel easier access to agricultural information and thus empower them to be better prepared to discharge their extension duties. The centers also stimulate knowledge sharing by providing a convenient venue for such activities.
c. Enhancing the role of Farmer Training Centers
In the last five years, the Ethiopian government has initiated establishment of over 15,000 Farmer Training Centers (FTC), with three Development Agents (DAs) each. While FTCs are used mainly for conducting formal modular training, this infrastructure can be enhanced and leveraged as venues for knowledge sharing and facilitating linkages with various market actors and service providers. The project supports 40 FTCs (4 per PLW) by equipping them with computers, printers, TV sets, DVD Players, books, manuals, demonstration materials, and generators where necessary. The project stresses community ownership as a key to the sustainable use of the facilities.
d. Study Tours
The project attempts to find the most efficient way to share practical knowledge with carefully selected farmers, extension workers, targeted administrative staff and policy makers. Study tours or experience sharing visits serve as one of the methods the project uses in which a selected number of actors witness relevant achievements, good practices, and challenges faced and resolved in areas outside their PA/PLW/Region. Destination and study tour content are discussed by the stakeholders and lessons learned are discussed and shared. When facilitating study tours, selecting early adopters and/or change champions with a demonstrated capability to influence their peers increases the likelihood that a promising idea is broadly disseminated.
e. Field Day/Demonstrations
Field days/demonstrations bring together a large number of farmers, extension workers, researchers, local administrators and members of the private sector to share knowledge to scale out/introduce successful interventions within a village or to other villages/communities in or outside the PLW.
f. Technology Exhibitions
The project facilitated the first agricultural innovations and technology exhibition with the Tigray BoARD in 2006. Since then, agricultural exhibitions (at local, regional, and national levels) have flourished around the country. They are used both for disseminating knowledge to a broader audience and to showcase community and individual achievements in the agriculture sector. IPMS participates in exhibitions when opportunities for sharing it’s experiences and when appropriate target audience (farmers, private sector, policy makers) with whom the project would like to interact are present.
3. Commodity Development
A market-oriented commodity development approach was introduced in 10 PLWs to improve technology uptake. In each district, the stakeholders identify potential marketable crop and livestock commodities. Bottlenecks and opportunities in the development of each commodity are also identified. Interventions to address the identified bottlenecks or to take advantage of the identified opportunities are then introduced by the stakeholders with technical assistance and financial support of IPMS. Interventions can be technological, organizational or institutional and usually take place in few locations or peasant associations (PAs).
Successful interventions are scaled out through farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing and capacity development. Some interventions are supported by a credit fund channeled through rural finance institutions. Planning and monitoring takes place during implementation through the various stakeholder fora especially Woreda Advisory and Learning Committees (WALCs).
3. Livestock Commodities
Dairy production in peri-urban and urban areas focuses on fluid milk marketing to cater the demand of urban consumers. In the rural areas, cattle production is multipurpose including for the supply of draught animals and the production of meat, butter, and local cheese (ayib) and manure for the crops.
A three pronged strategy is followed to improve the dairy sector. These are:
1. Improving productivity and production in the urban and peri- urban system
2. Increasing the linkages between the rural and urban systems for the supply of milk and fodder and
3. Linking rural butter producers with urban producers/groups for the sale of butter
A range of interventions that are based on the local context and opportunities are introduced, including communal grazing area development, improved utilization of crop residues, backyard forage development, improved animal management, introduction of improved local and exotic breeds, Farmer Training Center (FTC) and/or private fodder seed or planting material supply system, fodder/feed supply system, paravet service, private bull stations, improved artificial insemination (AI) service delivery (cooperative, estrus synchronization), milk collection centers in peri-urban/rural areas to link to urban dairy co-operatives, and strengthening of cooperative or private milk collection/processing units.
- Small ruminant fattening
Most farmers and pastoralists follow traditional production methods that result in poor reproduction and off take rates. Farmers can increase the profitability of their sheep & goats by providing supplementary feed for a selected period of time to animals they plan to sell. The project facilitates credit for purchase animals, feed, drugs and veterinary services. In one PLW, farmers introduced a community based insurance scheme to deal with accidental death of animals. A longer term strategy aims at improving reproduction/productivity through improved ram selection and management, fodder production, supply of feed and improved veterinary services. Marketing support is provided by establishing market information systems, stimulating the formation of marketing groups and facilitation of linkages with traders and abattoirs.
- Large ruminants fattening
Draft animals (oxen) in the Ethiopian highlands are usually sold to the local meat market at the end of their productive life. Replacements take place either from own stock or from animals produced in pastoral systems. Some farmers have started fattening their own or purchased oxen to supplement their income. IPMS facilitates the introduction of livestock fattening to areas where this is not common practice but where crop residues and supplementary feed that can support such activity are available. This is complemented with fodder improvement interventions, improved utilization of crop residues, paravet services and feed supply. Recently, breed improvement with Borans, using bull stations and AI/oestrus synchronization is also being tested. Market support is provided by establishing market information systems, stimulating the formation of marketing groups and facilitation of linkages with traders and abattoirs.
In areas where there is potential for commercial beekeeping, improved apiculture technologies, especially the transitional and modern hives have been introduced. Farmers have been trained in the manufacture of transitional bee hives using locally available materials. Technical capacity is developed in the areas of apiary management, pest and predator control, bee forage development, multiplication of bee colonies for the newly added hives and honey quality. Cooperative and private enterprise models are explored to supply inputs and to market the honey and wax. Credit has been provided to stimulate the input supply system.
Poultry development in several of the PLWs did not start until recently because of the bird flu scare which was prevalent in many countries a few years ago. Interventions concentrate on removing bottlenecks in the supply of improved local and exotic breeds for egg and/or meat production. This involves introduction and testing of local hatcheries by individuals and/or groups, raising of (12 week old) pullets for egg production by women groups, and commercial egg production by smallholders. The development of community based veterinary service and/or paravets for vaccination against common diseases is also facilitated as needed. Once farmers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to raise day old chicks, development of the production of commercial broilers will be addressed.
Fish production and marketing has been developed in Fogera, which borders Lake Tana. Interventions include capacity development of fishermen, post-harvest handling and management and development of marketing channels and linkages. Marketing groups have been formed and are operational. Credit has been made available through a micro finance institution for the purchase of motorized fishing boats.
- Cereal crops
In , the majority of the cultivated areas are covered by cereals. The development of cereal crops has received considerable attention by the MoARD, EARS and CGIAR partners. It has resulted in the development of a large number of new varieties and management practices, some of which are suitable for market-oriented agricultural development. Teff, wheat and rice were selected as marketable commodities in some PLWs, mainly for the local market. A number of these varieties along with improved agronomic practices have been demonstrated in farmers’ fields and FTCs in partnership with the stakeholders. An important requirement for the introduction of new varieties and practices is the supply of inputs, especially seeds and agrochemicals. Farmer-based seed production systems linked to the suppliers of breeder, (pre-) basic seeds (EARS, ESE), have been introduced. Marketing of the farmer-produced improved/certified seeds is through local organizations (cooperatives, ESE) and/or a farmer-to-farmer seed supply system. Upland rice varieties have been tested in various PLWs and the production of promising varieties has been expanding. Agrochemicals, especially “Round up” for zero or minimum tillage was successfully introduced through villages shops linked to wholesale companies in Addis Ababa. The same private/cooperative village shops are encouraged to supply other inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and tools. Marketing interventions for grains included establishing of market information systems, linkages between producers and traders/processors and the introduction of small scale threshing equipment by private entrepreneurs.
- Pulse crops
Pulses follow cereals in the cultivated area coverage. Similar to the smallholder cereal production, the MoARD, EARS and ESE have emphasized the development of pulse crops in the past decades. Chickpea and haricot beans were selected as potential export market commodities. Interventions for these commodities therefore focused on the introduction of new varieties demanded by the export market, including large-sized Kabuli type chickpeas and white and red varieties of haricot bean. Farmer-based seed multiplication systems, linked to the suppliers of breeder and (pre-)basic seeds (EARS, ESE), were tested to ensure the supply of improved seed. Distribution of the farmer-produced improved seeds is channeled through local organizations (cooperatives, ESE) and/or a farmer-to-farmer seed supply system. Post-harvest handling and quality and provision of market information are important issues being addressed. To support these emerging markets, linkages were made between producers and private sector exporters and/or cooperatives. Village shops and private crop spraying services are also introduced in some PLWs
Irrigation availability determines potential for vegetable cultivation, in particular onion, tomatoes and hot peppers. Existing irrigation schemes and potential sources of irrigation are identified using GIS and available hydrological studies. Water management practices and agronomic practices are reviewed and approaches that improve production/productivity are proposed, including introduction of new varieties, double row and staggered planting. Input supply system issues are addressed when necessary, including the production and supply of onion seeds, the provision of water through various arrangements – private, sharecropping, group-based systems. Efforts are also made to improve post-harvest handling, providing market information and, facilitating market linkages. The latter is of particular importance because of the perishable nature of most vegetables and transportation and storage constraints, which force farmers to be price takers.
Improved fruit trees varieties, in particular banana, avocado and mango, which are demanded by the (urban) markets were identified for smallholder commercialization by stakeholders in several PLWs. To stimulate this development, considerable emphasis has been placed on the development of a sustainable input supply system for suckers and grafted seedlings. Existing or new nursery operators were identified and trained in grafting with scions supplied from Melkassa Agricultural Research Centre. The nursery operators were supplied with (grafted) seedlings which have already started serving as mother trees to supply scions for future grafting. Farmer based sucker supply system has also been well developed in areas where banana production is possible. Tree management and marketing linkages are now being developed to channel the fruits to quality market outlets. To support banana marketing, specific attention was paid to banana ripening by farmers/traders in the PLW and nearby market centers.
Coffee is an important smallholder cash crop and foreign exchange earner in two IPMS PLWs and has always received considerable attention by the MoARD, EARS and various projects. Both forest and garden coffee production are being addressed. Emphasis is on marketing by improving coffee quality through improvements in post-harvest handling (sun drying, on farm storage), (re) introduction of quality hand tools through private shops, and through the (re-) introduction of local varieties. Private nurseries are backstopped to support the introduction of local varieties by establishing seed orchards of mother trees/ farmer nurseries. Recently, some farm nurseries have been involved in the vegetative multiplication of some newly released hybrid coffee varieties. Market linkages are developed to channel quality products to where they can fetch premium prices.