Special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger

Green innovation centre Ethiopia

Smallholder farmers threshing wheat

Almost one third of the Ethiopian population is undernourished . This is despite the fact that the country has the natural conditions required to grow enough food for everybody. However, seeds which are prone to disease, cultivation of the land using the most basic of tools and the harvesting of grain by hand all mean that farmers ultimately are only able to reap a fraction of what could actually be harvested. As far as the cultivation of wheat and faba beans is concerned, the aim is now to improve this situation.

What is so innovative?

Modern technology used to generate higher yields: Whenever a field is ploughed using oxen, weeds grow back very quickly as the soil is not fully turned. However, weeds deprive the crops of light, water and nutrients. Modern mouldboard ploughs, on the other hand, invert the soil completely, burying unwanted weeds in the process. This in turn allows crops such as wheat to grow better.

Seeing the results for themselves: 500 pilot smallholdings are using traditional methods to farm half of their land. On the other half, they are employing one of 14 innovations – ranging from high-quality seed and modern agricultural machinery to better storage of harvest products. The demonstration plots allow the farmers to see for themselves the extent to which their yields are increased.

Theoretical and practical advice: Although many agricultural extension officers have acquired theoretical knowledge through their studies, they lack practical experience. An additional course of practice-oriented training is designed to enhance officers’ ability to analyse in depth the specific requirements of farmers so that they can provide them with successful and customised extension services.

Our objectives

  • To increase income and productivity of 70,000 smallholders by 30 per cent
  • To create 2,000 new jobs
  • To provide education and training for 70,000 smallholders

Routes to success

Up to now, many farmers have not leased any agricultural equipment. The farmers of the 500 pilot smallholdings are now able to see for themselves the benefit of using agricultural machinery on their land. Demand for ploughs, harvesting machinery and combine harvesters is growing, as is the number of companies hiring out such machinery – including in remote regions. The result is better harvests, more jobs and greater income.

At present, around 90 per cent of farmers do not purchase certified seed but instead use part of their last harvest to sow the next harvest. The disadvantage of this traditional method is that low-quality seed is recycled over and over again. Actual yields are therefore lower than what is possible and crop diseases are able to spread more easily. Together with the Kulumsa Agricultural Research Center – Ethiopia’s national institute for the breeding and production of seeds – the green innovation centre is working to improve seed production and processing. Partners such as farmers’ cooperatives and the local farm service centres train the smallholders in good farming practice and help them to get access to better seed as well as to pesticides and fertilisers.

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