Category Archives: Success Stories

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.”

Bringing quality seed to market: the journey to becoming an independent seed business

“We would never have got the Certificate of Competence if we had not got the training and support from ISSD”
Ato Tesfaye Babiso, Chairperson – Fate Dicha SPC

Lessons from the previous ISSD Ethiopia phase revealed that the local seed business (LSB) development approach (focusing on seed producer cooperatives, or SPCs) is gaining more recognition by many Ethiopian stakeholders for providing farmers with access to quality seed of a diverse range of crops and varieties.

The lessons also recommended that in the next project phase the capacity of SPC partners needs to be further strengthened in order for the approach to be scaled out. Accordingly, in the new phase focus has been made on “quality” instead of “quantity” for SPCs. Thus, intensive support is delivered by ISSD Ethiopia through a variety of capacity building mechanisms: skill enhancement trainings, organizational system strengthening with the final goal of making them autonomous, market oriented and sustainable entrepreneurs in the seed sector.

Fate Muruta Dicha Seed Multiplication Union was established with a mission to contriute to a society with better income and living conditions by making use of new technologies and sustainably ensuring agricultural production and productivity. It envisions its members as being skilled and competent and as playing a key role in better livelihoods in their own and other woredas.

They are known for producing wheat seed variety but previously because they didn’t have a Certificate of Competence (CoC), they used to sell their wheat production at a cheaper price. In 2017, ISSD Ethiopia provided them all the support they need to increase the quality and quantity of seed they produce and ultimately increase their income. Before this support, for example, they never planted wheat in rows. They merely used to sow their seeds in the traditional way of boradcast seeding. Now they are producing more by planting their seeds in row. Compared to other areas in the same zone, they are now producing more wheat.

Ato Tesfaye Babiso is Chairperson of Fate Dicha Union, and one of the farmers who have benefited from ISSD’s support to enhance the capacity of SPCs in the region. Here, Ato Tesfaye, reflects on his collaboration with ISSD Ethiopia:

“In addition to its support to increase the production of quality seed, ISSD also has a scheme to strengthen the organizational capacity of the SPCs in terms of building office and storerooms for their product. Skill training on quality seed production and gender mainstreaming was provided for our members and committee leaders.

Besides this, ISSD provided us financial support to build office and purchase office furniture, packaging materials, pallet and crop sack with print of logo of our union. The farmers’ skill and awareness has increased that’s why productivity increased and our union has got a CoC from SNNPR Seed Regulatory and Quarantine Authority.

ISSD Experts also advised us to plant wheat in row, to use fertilizers properly and to weed our harvest in time. We would never have got the CoC if we had not got the training, the technical and financial support from ISSD.

In order to get the CoC, we were expected to raise our capital and we needed to have an expert. Members were so motivated, that we hired an expert and raised the association’s capital. The training focused on leadership and financial management and it helped our member farmers to improve their capacity in planting and harvesting quality seed. However, with the great help of ISSD, we have got a CoC for our product from the quarantine authority this year. This will really help our members income”

Currently the members of Fate Dicha SPC have now reached 136, of who 32 are women. Members are working in clusters and mainly producing Ogolcho and Shorima wheat seed varieties. This year they got a CoC from the regional quarantine authority and they have produced 655.5 quintals of Ogolcho and Shorima wheat seed varieties.

Fate Dicha SPC is the only functional seed producer that has got a CoC in the woreda. The main factor for their success is due to continuous follow up, strong leadership and technical support – it is also because of the commitment of the union and use of technology and good practices.

Previously, there were only two female members in the union, but after ISSD gave awareness training on gender mainstreaming, they have run mobilization campaigns at the grassroots level and now female membership increased to new 32 female members.

In terms of production, they are ranked first in the zone and second in the region. They have also bought wheat threshing machine and many farmers are requesting them to use the machine and to join their cooperative. The capital of the union as well as individual farmers has risen significantly.