News and updates on LIVES project
LIVES at two years old
During the last few months, LIVES has transformed from a toddler to a fully grown child. Interventions and activities on all project pillars are well underway. The project team at headquarters, regional and zonal level is now all on board.
Gaps in capacity and knowledge management were identified and interventions have been planned at district and zonal levels with focal persons, experts, development workers, model farmers, input suppliers, processers and traders. Various training workshops and experience sharing tours have also taken place and were highly appreciated.
E-readers were distributed to public sector staff and training provided. Thirty three district and zonal knowledge centers that will be used by development agents and experts have been made fully operational.
Project staff have come across various stories from the field and documented their observations, opinions and lessons on the project’s blog page to share with a wider audience. Visit the blog to keep up, and share your comments!
Another major activity in the past few months was the baseline study of 5,000 households – with half project beneficiaries and half control groups.
Value chain interventions
Tsehaye Reda, a dairy processor in Adwa district, is addressing smallholder dairy farmers’ market problems through a simplified concept of ‘value chains’ whereby farmers supply their fluid milk to his plant, and supermarkets, retailers and consumers in turn buy pasteurized milk and other processed dairy products from him. He started his business with 9 Holstein Friesian cross bred cows (6 purchased and 3 donated), a 500-liter capacity pasteurizer and a mini milk packaging plant. Although the demand for fluid milk varies, with the current capacity of the plant, he collects milk from 100 smallholder dairy farmers. More
Most dairy processing activities in Ethiopia focus on fresh milk, sold in raw, boiled or pasteurized forms to consumers. The unsold fresh milk is usually processed into fresh butter. Any remaining skimmed milk is either sold to consumers or is heated to get a soft cheese known as “ayeb”. In some places unsold fresh whole milk is naturally fermented into “irgo” (yoghurt). Part of the fermented irgo is creamed off to churn it into local butter. Dirk Hoekstra asks if we can increase demand for dairy products obtained from soured milk? More
Birtukan and her husband are dairy farmers in Arbegona district. They used to feed their cows by renting private grazing land and providing supplementary feed from enset leaves and leftovers from kocho processing. Nowadays, the cost of renting private land has increased dramatically. Hence, Birtukan and her husband decided to try new techniques of forage production that would increase the productivity of their animals and at the same time reduce their feed cost. Fertigation, which is the process of applying irrigation and fertilizer/manure to forage crops proved to be an innovative solution for this couple. More
South Wollo is blessed with an abundance of agro- industrial by-products: wheat bran from flour factories, oil cake from small scale oil processing factories, as well as brewers waste from a brewery. Dairy farmers, especially urban ones in Dessie and Kombolcha, already buy these feed ingredients from small shops or directly from the source. The effect of this increased demand can be seen bythe transformation of these products from “waste” to “valuable” products, which is reflected in the price increase over the past 10 years. More
Behaylu Abraha is a young university graduate who owns and manages ‘YB Plant Micro Propagation PLC’ – a small family business engaged in hydroponic technologies in Mekelle. After working for a private tissue culture company for seven years, he decided to set up a private business in hydroponics (fodder, mushrooms, vegetables, and certified pre-basic and basic potato seeds) in a 420 m2 rental residential house. The actual effective area used for hydroponic fodder production is 160 m2. More
Feed is the major input cost incurred in livestock production and is one of the focus areas in LIVES intervention districts. Entrepreneurs in Dugda district, Meki town, are involved in the supply of agro-industrial by product as livestock feed to urban and rural livestock owners. Though it’s a male dominated business there are some women actively involved as well. These entrepreneurs share their lessons and challenges in the business. More
Keshi Fisseha Berhe lives in the remote village of Derokai in Adwa district. He is an innovator in honeybee colony splitting. He gained basic beekeeping skills from his parents who kept traditional mud hives for honey production. Back in 2004, he decided to shift to improved box hives when the local agricultural office pushed him to take a loan and buy three hives. Since then, the presence of a lucrative business for honeybee colonies have contributed to his ambition to invent a rapid and space saving colony splitting technique. More
Abajihad Ababulgu, his two wives and their children are engaged in backyard beekeeping. His efforts are well recognized by the community and the extension office. He and his family own all types of hives: Traditional (80) hung on the tallest tree in the compound, transitional (30) and modern (8) lined up under a well-built shed in the family’s backyard. The orderly mixture of hives and coffee trees creates an exciting environment for visitors. More
Chicken rearing is part of the lifestyle of the communities of Dugda. Eleven Peasant Associations are famous for their high chicken production; the soil is fertile and there are fish by-products available which provide excellent chicken feed. These chickens apparently grow faster, maintain their body condition longer during transportation, resist diseases and have bigger and more attractive eggs than those obtained from elsewhere. More
LIVES project recently conducted a rapid assessment on the status of chicken production in West Gojjam Zone. The assessment identified some major challenges such as lack of quality poultry rations, serious skill and knowledge gaps of producers to run chicken farms as a business, financial limitations, shortages in the supply of day-old chicks and veterinary drugs, inadequate health service provision and poor market linkages.
To mitigate these production and marketing challenges, the project facilitated the creation of learning forums/platforms. The first activity was to organize innovation platform meetings, which help producers, processors, traders and experts share their experiences, views, challenges, and success or failure stories. More
Attractive and delicious tropical and temperate fruits are much in demand in the local markets of Tigray, particularly Mekelle town. Over the past two decades, research and development partners have worked to improve the regional fruit supply system; mainly through the establishment of public fruit nurseries in some fruit areas. This has led to the development of high value fruit corridors in some parts of the region. For instance, mango and orange fruit corridors are successfully developed in the Rama-Hamedo plain along the Mereb River; there is a papaya and mango corridor around the Raya-Alamata plain; and there’s a banana and papaya corridor around the north-western flanks of the Tekeze River drainage. More
In the early 1980s, Arba Minch state farm had 62 ha of land covered by dwarf Cavendish banana. Experts made efforts to introduce banana to the Lante producers’ cooperative, but failed as the cooperative administrators at that time did not perceive banana as an important cash crop. In 1984, a few experts restarted a dialogue to transform the mainly cereal-based subsistence smallholder agriculture to a more market-oriented system by introducing irrigated banana. After repeated discussions with cooperative leaders and extension staff, banana was introduced on 4.2 ha of the cooperative’s land. More
Some 5 years ago Berhanu Mulu – the Kalu District fruit and vegetable subject matter specialist, initiated the creation of an association for the production and sale of tropical fruit seedlings – mango, avocado and citrus. Over the years, membership increased from 25 to 53 people.
The association sells seedlings on behalf of its members to NGOs, investors, the Office of Agriculture (OoA) and private farmers. Orders received by the Association are verified against seedling production records of individual members to determine who can contribute to the required amount of a specific species/variety. Once seedlings have been purchased, members are paid by the association. More
Millions of farmers produce diverse and small quantities of products; at times they produce different varieties of the same crop. Therefore the role of brokers has become important.
Brokers assemble the products of many smallholders, before they reach the wholesaler; they use information in the central market to fix the farm gate prices, never to the advantage of the producers. Wholesalers of vegetables and fruits fix the wholesale prices and the retailers adjust the prices based on the whole prices when they sell them to consumers. This is in a nutshell how markets of vegetables and fruits perform in Ethiopia. More
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the research system released or recommended a total of 807 improved varieties of different crop species adaptable to different agro-ecologies of the country. These improved varieties can only boost crop production if their seed or planting material is simultaneously multiplied and made available to farmers and if farmers plant these varieties in their recommended agro-ecology. More
The Amhara region of Ethiopia produces many cool season vegetables: Cabbages, carrots, beetroot, Swiss chard and lettuce are widely grown and supplied to local markets throughout the year. However, cauliflower, the most expensive cool season vegetable is not well-known to smallholder or commercial farmers in the region. More
Capacity development and knowledge management
Mobile applications (both for dumb and smart phones) are emerging as promising options to inform smallholder producers and provide market information and advisory services. Experiences such as iCow, esoko , Farmer line, and mkisan offer much to learn from. Farmers use these applications to reach experts or to get market informationl. More
The Estephanos Monastery is on an island in Lake Haik in South Wollo, one of the LIVES sites. It delivers spiritual, social and development activities for local populations. The monks and hermits started agricultural activities to feed themselves and then continued to set up a farm enterprise that produces various irrigated fruits and vegetables both for the monastery as well as the local markets. More
Now a full-fledged agriculture entrepreneur, Ato Gadissa Gobena owns about 100 crossbred cows that produce on average 15 liters of milk per day. Alongside the dairying, he cultivates maize, wheat, teff and chickpea; in the dry season he irrigates his land from the Huluka river and cultivates maize. Beekeeping is an integral part of his farm in Ambo. He owns close to 100 modern beehives and each produces about 80 kilograms of high quality honey each year. The honey is sold to wholesalers from Addis. More
News and Events
The LIVES project joined hands with national and international partners to build capacity of university staff on agricultural value chain development and gender mainstreaming. Berhanu Gebremedhin and Ephrem Tessema recently contributed to a workshop organized by the Netherlands’ NUFFIC program for participants from several Ethiopian universities. The LIVES team shared practical experiences on value chain development and gender mainstreaming. These universities need technical support to help integrate value chain development and mainstream gender into their curricula. For the LIVES project, they also play important roles to potentially promote and scale up research lessons.
The Ethiopian government’s current focus on commercial transformation of subsistence agriculture calls for change in approaches, methods and work culture of the extension officers. Determined to fill these gaps, the Ministry of Agriculture is focusing on building the knowledge and capacity of its public sector staff in agriculture value chain approaches and market oriented agriculture.
The LIVES project is a partner in these efforts and organized training workshops on these new approaches. The first such training was given at the Federal level. Trainees were comprised of experts, team leaders and researchers from the various directorates of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR).
On March 1 and 2, lively agribusiness finance fair was held in Hawassa town. The event was organized by Agri-ProFocus and other partners including Hawassa University, the regional government, banks, insurance companies, microfinance institutions and private organizations. The fair included panel discussions, a market place as well as a field visit. More
LIVES has received and tested multipurpose feed choppers, shredders and grain grinders (all in one). These machines are light enough to transport to remote areas using donkeys or carts. The machines are not for donation but rather to strategically demonstrate feed use and utilization efficiency to initiate business, particularly for the unemployed youth. The machines can chop wet and dry feed materials such as maize and sorghum stover, Napier grass, etc. and can grind grains to different sizes including for concentrate ration formulation using locally available materials. More
In Ethiopia, access to internet is limited in most areas outside of Addis Ababa. So when you see agricultural extension workers in the sprawling mountains and fields of rural Ethiopia holding e-readers, they seem slightly out of place. The LIVES Project, in an effort to both build the capacity of extension workers and connect them with relevant, easily accessible information is piloting e-readers as information access devices. More
Amenti Chali, Regional Expert – Irrigated Agriculture for Oromia region, joined LIVES in April 2014. Amenti holds an MSc in Agronomy from Hawassa University and a BSc in plant science from Alemaya University. Before joining LIVES/ILRI he worked as an Assistant Researcher in Oromia Agricultural Research Institute (OARI) – Adami Tulu Agricultural Research Center and agronomy and as an Irrigation Officer in the international Development enterprise (iDE). Amenti will be based in OARI in Addis Ababa.
Mamusha Lemma, Capacity Development and Innovation expert, joined LIVES in February 2014. Prior to joining LIVES, he worked at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) as a Senior Extension Technical Expert. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Sciences (Agricultural Knowledge Systems) from Hohenheim University, Germany and an MA in Rural Social Development from Reading University, UK
Peter Hooper, Livestock Specialist, joined LIVES in April 2014 as a volunteer to support the project in its livestock interventions. Peter has a degree in veterinary science and a number of postgraduate degrees including a PhD in pathology. Peter served at CSIRO, Australia’s premier research organization, as a research scientist for several years, among other organizations.
Solomon Gizaw, Livestock Expert, joined LIVES in March 2014. Solomon has a PhD in Animal Genetics and Breeding from Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Prior to joining ILRI, Solomon worked as a senior researcher in livestock breeding and management and designing livestock interventions suited to smallholder systems at ARARI. Solomon was the coordinator of the national sheep research program of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research as well.
Zewdie Adane, Research Assistant for the Oromia regional office, joined LIVES in November 2013. He holds an MSc in Economic Policy Analysis from Addis Ababa University; a joint International Master of Science in Rural Development from a consortium of six European Universities through the Erasmus Mundus scholarship scheme and a BA in Economics from Hawassa University. Zewdie has extensive research experience on impact evaluation, innovation platforms and value chains. Prior to joining LIVES, he was a research fellow at the Policy, Trade and Value Chains program of ILRI based in Nairobi.