• Building capacity to reduce fund dependency
ADDIS ABABA- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) said over 50,000 smallholder farmers have been reached with inoculation technology and were able to improve their yield on grain legume production during the past four years.
Dr Endalkachew Woldemeskel, Coordinator of N2A Africa project at the Institution, told The Ethiopian Herald that the technology has enhanced production of grain legumes through nitrogen fixation in to the soil biologically.
As a result, production yield of chickpea, soybean, faba been and common bean increased by 10, 36, 41 and 43 percent respectively above national average yields. On the other hand, inoculation has also increased crude protein content in crop residues and benefited livestock owners, the same number of the households, with improved quality of fodder resources, said Endalkachew.
“The technology also helps the country to reduce its expenditure that goes for importing urea as a fertilizer. Inoculant technology has the same role that urea plays. The only difference is that it is organic and environmentally safe,” he noted.
He said Ethiopia has been importing UREA and Dap with millions USD per year. But it is a country of unique and indigenous rhizobial biodiversity that would blend in with grain legumes through coevolution and used for inoculant production.
The N2A Africa project has been implemented since 2014 in 31 Woredas of Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia and Southern Nations Nationalities (SNNP) and Peoples States of Ethiopia.
On the other hand, the Institution has been implementing a project, Africa RISING, that focused on sustainable intensification of mixed farming system to contribute to climate smart development, gender integration, improved nutrition and inclusive agricultural growth as well as research and capacity building.
According to Dr. Kindu Mekonnen, senior scientist and project coordinator at ILRI, the project has reached more than 60,000 households and covered 20,397 hectares of land in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNP states with the above-mentioned services.
He said more than seventeen technologies have been introduced for the farmers during the first phase of the project. These technologies are in alignment with the Ethiopian government development priorities. “We also conduct researches about the efficiency of the technologies and train farmers,” he added.
Speaking of best practices Kindu said the feed trough technology, which was invented here in Ethiopia, has been the most effective. It reduced the wastage of fodder to 50 percent. “This technology has gained acceptance by the farmers and we have plans to promote it in other African and Asian countries,”
He also noted that the project is strict in terms of ensuring women’s participation. He said more than twenty percent of beneficiaries from the project are women. “But we still have to work more to empower and benefit women.”
Speaking of challenges, Kindu indicated that there are funding uncertainties that would create less trust with local partners. “But since the project is all inclusive and we have multi-stakeholder platforms in every structure, there will be a capacity to proceed without depending on funds. The government is also keen in scaling up best practices,” he stressed.
BY HENOK TIBEBU