Efforts towards empowering smallholder farmers
Addis Ababa, August 4, 2012 (WIC) - Over 80 per cent of the total population of Ethiopia lives in the rural localities and preponderantly relies on agriculture though some other alternatives are now emerging.
Of the total population residing in the rural areas, the majority of farmers have been engaged in producing or growing crops on 1-2 hectares of land. Besides, their agricultural activity is characterized by the practice of a single crop or plant species on small areas for a couple of years.
This type of agricultural practice is increasingly becoming vulnerable to risk emanating from drought and flood catastrophes. The fruits and vegetables which are cultivated by these farmers are also characterized by low quality and yield and low resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. With a view to overcoming such daunting challenges facing smallholder farmers of fruits and vegetables, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in collaboration with Israel's Agency for International Development.
Cooperation (MASHAV) and USAID is providing them with grafted fruit trees and quality vegetable plants. The programme is known as Small Holders Horticulture Programme.
The MoA-MASHAV-USAID Smallholders Horticulture project is encouraging the cultivation of fruits and vegetables that serves as “insurance policy” for smallholders.
The project was implemented by MASHAV in partnership with MoA and USAID targeting at transferring agricultural technology as well as building farmers' capacity in the areas of plant bio-technology, irrigation, horticulture and water management.
The programme has set up five nurseries--a place where plants are propagated and grown to useable size, and upgraded four tissue culture laboratories to enhance local farmers' horticulture production.
As part of the programme, a training was given for local development experts by Israeli agricultural experts on Methodologies of Extension for four days at Butajira Centre of Excellence. The training is believed to build the capacity of local agricultural experts.
Asefa Degefu is a development agent who took part in the training. According to him, the training they took for four days will enable all the trainees to assist farmers in a better way.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the training, Israeli Acting Ambassador to Ethiopia, Effie Ben-Matityau said, “Israel has a long and successful experience in the agricultural sector and we want to share this experience to the developing nations, especially for Ethiopia because we are historically close friends.” In this programme, they are also trying to change production chain in order to make sure that the production process is going right in terms of quality and quantity. Accordingly all the stakeholders have agreed to extend the programme to the next phase where the Butajira centre could be a showcase for learning and demonstration.
Dawit Beyene, is a Biotechnology researcher. According to him continuous training programmes are crucial as they would help build local experts' capacity. He said, “though the outcomes of our research centres are very important, farmers hesitate to accept the offers. To avoid such a negative perception towards the research outcomes, mechanisms have been devised to raise farmers' awareness.”
Moreover, farmers have been provided with technical assistance to help them benefit out of the research findings and innovations.
The joint project is working in four states: Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and peoples states. The programme which started in 2005 will phase out in the year 2012, but will be succeeded by new projects. The follow up programme will take place between the years 2012 to 2015. The upcoming programme is designed to scale-up these activities within the frameworks of the US Feed the Future Initiative and Agricultural Growth Programme of Ethiopia. The objective of the new programme is to promote sustainable economic growth in rural areas by strengthening the commercial viability of smallholders in fruits and vegetable production with recognized market potentials.
It was also indicated that the programme will support and establish additional nurseries and tissue culture. (ENA)
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