The predominantly public sector extension service in Ethiopia has gone through tremendous expansion over the past few years. However their approach of service delivery remains more or less production and technology oriented with little attention to marketing.
The Ethiopian government’s current focus on commercial transformation of subsistence agriculture calls for change in approach, methods and work culture of the extension officers. There is a need to shift services that aim at production for subsistence to those that aim at services to market oriented production. Determined to fill in this gap, the Ministry of Agriculture is focusing on building the knowledge and capacities of its public sector staff in agriculture value chain approaches and market oriented agriculture. The LIVES project is partnering in these efforts and organized some training on these new approaches. The first such training was given at the Federal level this past month.
Trainees comprised experts, team leaders and researchers from the various directorates of the ministry of agriculture and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). The workshops were held 17-20th of March on value chain development approaches and 24-27th on market oriented agriculture extension in Adama town, Oromia.
Etelaem Tesfaye, a poultry researcher from Debre Zeit research center of EIAR, explained how the training led her to change her perceptions on how best she could look at her research work not only from productivity perspectives but also from a market orientation, better efficiency and profitability. Similarly, Bula Agegnehu of National Artificial Insemination Center (NAIC) says the trends are changing with the increasing demand for improved breeding and semen supply, which makes such training workshops relevant and timely. He explains further how the campaigns on estrous synchronization and mass insemination all over the country have driven NAIC to increase its supply of semen and to revisit its production and distribution systems in order to facilitate market oriented livestock production, particularly dairy.
Market oriented extension services and value chain approaches were new concepts for most of the trainees. ‘These approaches guide you to assimilate your scientific knowledge with the existing context and increase the efficiency of your work’ says Tamerat Seyoum, a veterinarian at Holeta research center of EIAR. The trainees however worry about the applicability and effectiveness of these approaches at the grassroots unless a continuous follow up and coaching is put in place. They stressed on the need for decision makers to be aware and knowledgeable of these approaches so that they could be leading the adoption and implementation processes.
The LIVES project will organize subsequent training workshops at the four project regions in an effort to bring these approaches closer to the grassroots.