Category Archives: Oromia East

From workshop to woreda: Farmers’ on-farm financial management skills to receive a boost

Sustainable and successful seed sector development only happens when the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of farmers and other private sector stakeholders are leveraged for innovation and collaboration. Developing and nurturing these skills is a key aim of ISSD and partners.

Most farmers in Eastern Ethiopia have limitations of recording their incomes and expenses. This is mainly because of either farmers may have an acute knowledge and skill gap of farm literacy and numeracy or no practice/habit of recording their income and expenses. As result farmers do not record their farm activities, which results in poor decision-making for their farm businesses.

To address this challenge, BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia, Oromia East Unit organized a training of trainers (TOT) session about on-farm financial literacy. The participants are cooperative development agents from respective seed producers’ cooperatives (SPCs) as well as scaling-up partners, namely Haramaya and Oda Bultum Universities, Fadis Agricultural Research centre and Chercher Oda Bultum Farmers’ cooperative union.

The training wasconducted at Harar city, Ras Hotel from June 28-29, 2018.

Scaling-up financial knowledge and skills
The ToT sought to improve participants’ knowledge on the concept of on-farm financial literacy, but also to enhance their knowledge and skills on multiple topics, including:

  • financial management;
  • technical skills on farm record-keeping, cost, income and profit calculation;
  • financial analysis and economic decision-making;

As a ToT, participants were also taught about the principles of adult learning and how to relay their newly acquired knowldge and skills to many other stakeholders in their areas. To this end, the training began by focusing on developing skills of participants on how to design, prepare and facilitate trainings for farmers. Participants formed groups and asked to discuss and reflect on their previous experience they used to transfer training to farmers including how to plan, design and implement training; methods and tools they used to transfer training; and their perception on effects of training on farmers.

Participants will return back to their seed producers cooperatives (SPCs) and each will provide training to members of SPCs. It is planned to train about 10 participants in each respective SPCs for this year agricultural season.

Mr. Beyan Husen, is ISSD focal person from Chercher Oda Bultum Farmers’ cooperative union. He appreciated the training styles and methods used in conveying messages. Moreover, he acknowledged different training tools he grasped that will help him in designing and delivering training to farmers. He further added;

I like the training content very much. I also like the manual developed in local language. The manual will help both development agents and farmers to grasp every costs benefit analysis of farm businesses. This is a great move by itself. I never come across any training that used such different learning modes”.

He further confirmed that, the training will change farmer’s behaviours and attitude in recording income and expenses. He showed his interest in working with development agents to provide the training to farmers immediately after return to their organisation.

Capitalising on each other’s experiences
From group reflection we observed acute knowledge and skill gap of the participants on design and delivery of training. To fill this gap, plenary presentation focusing on developing skills of participants/trainees through adult education presented.

Moreover, drawing lessons from the experience of previous years, this year’s financial literacy training has been done differently. First, cashbook manuals and cash recording books were developed in Oromo language and shared with participants during training. This helps participants to grasp training content and lessons very easily.
Testimonials from the participants

Male and female farmers benefit from the training

Mr. Abdukarem Aliye, a cooperative development agent from Guba Koricha woreda, said that: “Farmers in my woreda are not recording income and expenses of their farm activities. As a result they do not make right decision for agricultural investment. The training I acquired today from ISSD project will help me in assisting farmers in recording costs and benefits. It further improved my expertise as I closely working with cooperatives on daily basis”. Finally, he acknowledged the importance of the training and its advantage for farmers.


Ms Roma Mustefa, a cooperative development agent, from Fadis woreda appreciated different training methods like individual test, group work, role play, and plenary reflection that helped her to grasp training content easily. She said that the financial literacy training is very important for farmers. It will help them to register and calculate their costs; and help farmers to make informed decisions of their farm business. In addition, she confirmed that,

“I am a woman and I know women farmers’ problems too. Women farmers in my village are actively involved farm business and different income generating activities, but they do not know how to calculate their income and expenses. So, I will give special attention to them in the training I am going to deliver for farmers in the village”.

She planned to provide training to men and women members representatives from seed producers’ cooperatives.

Farmers validating and promoting sorghum varieties across regions

BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia facilitates learning about variety suitability and farmers’ preferences across regions. Through participatory methods, farmers lead the testing and validation of varieties, with their experiences guiding variety development and deployment. 

There is often an assumption that sorghum varieties released in other regions of Ethiopia are not adaptable to Tigray agro-ecologies and hence not preferred by Tigrayan farmers. To test this assumption on suitability, ISSD Ethiopia’s Tigray Unit conducted an evaluation of a large number of released sorghum varieties from the Melkasa Agricultural Research Center in Oromia and the Sirinka Agricultural Research Center in Amhara.

These sorghum varieties were tested by 200 Tigrayan farmers (of which 100 were female) through crowdsourcing and participatory varietal selection methodologies. The process revealed that some of the released varieties performed well in Tigray. These varieties were hence selected and are now well promoted by many farmers for wider scaling-up and adoption.

Once such farmer is Mekonen Aregay, who lives in Deguadugugni, Tabia Selam, Asgede-Tsmbla District in the northwestern part of the Tigray region. Farming is a means of livelihood for him and his family. He shares his experience on improved sorghum seed varieties using the crowdsourcing.

“Our farming system was traditional before. We were using seeds from our traditional store called a Gotera. As a result, we were not benefiting from our efforts. We were getting low quality and poor yield. The grain was also not preferred in the market.

Nowadays after receiving training on crowdsourcing from Mekelle University (MU) (ISSD Ethiopia implementation partner ) in the last one year we were trained to separate which is seed and grain to increase our crop production. Due to this training we became more aware to identify seed and grain. We kept seed and grain in a separate place or Gotera. In addition to the use of improved seeds, we used fertilizer and animal manure. Technically, we plough the farm land three times before sowing and the fourth ploughing during sowing.  

We practice 15 centimetres spacing between the plants and we got an encouraging yield. What I was interested in with the intervention of MU was that the deployed seed varieties are early maturing even with low rainfall. Comparing to the landraces, they are drought resistant. I remember that we visited the varieties sown in 2017 at Hitsats Tabia farmers’ training centre. We took this good lesson from this experience sharing and applied it on our farm.

In July 2017 we planted the improved sorghum seed varieties and it was a little bit late. MU-ISSD gave me three different packages of sorghum seed verities. The varieties were prepared to be planted on three different plots keeping the recommended spacing. I applied DAP during sowing and UREA at the stage of knee height. There was programed follow up and management according to the training delivered. For instance, I weed the plots three times. As result, encouraging yield was obtained. The stalks and leafs of the varieties are good and palatable as animal feed.

As the stalk is short it is also easy to harvest. In terms of labour comparatively to the formers varieties it demands only half number of labourers. Numerically, if local varieties demand ten labourers, the improved varieties need only five. They have white colour, sweet taste, soft and attractive to look at and good for human consumption as well.

MU-ISSD experts told us to share our experience and the improved sorghum seed varieties at least to five farmers. Based on this given advice, I already gave to five farmers. Some of the farmers who took the varieties are from other villages. I am also ready to give to other farmers.

The dissemination of improved seed varieties can be attained through combined effort.  As MU has reached us with these improved varieties, we have also a duty to share these to other farmers in order to scale up the sorghum varieties to a wider community.”

BENEFIT-ISSD Ethiopia National Newsletter – October 2017

Read our October newsletter to find out the latest updates, achievements and focus areas!

In this issue:

  • ISSD 2016/17 in Numbers
  • Bringing the informal seed system into focus
  • Food security in PSNP woredas
  • Continued strategic interventions needed in seed value chain
  • DSM: Time to move forward?
  • Super El Niño tests the resilience of Ethiopian seed systems

Download the newsletter here