On 6 May 2015, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) hosted a seminar on ‘Market-oriented extension services for agricultural transformation in Ethiopia’ in Addis Ababa. About 60 staff from the MoA attended the seminar, many of whom were young experts and women.
HE Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes (PhD), State Minister for Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture said that the seminar, the first-of-its-kind in MoA, had two purposes; one is to tighten the partnership between the MoA and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) beyond sharing information and knowledge to expanding the interaction in the development of the agricultural sector in the country and two, to learn from the Improving the Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS) project and Livestock and Irrigation Value Chain for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project experiences on the concepts and process of transforming from production-focused extension services to market-oriented extension that is driven by knowledge and information.
Fourteen years ago, in June 2002, a conference was organized by the MoA at the ILRI Addis Ababa campus to discuss strategies and processes needed to shift production-based agriculture into a market-oriented one in Ethiopia.
‘A key issue raised during that conference was that CGIAR should work more closely with the MoA and take part in piloting strategies and approaches to bring market orientation in agriculture in Ethiopia,’ says Azage Tegegne, who leads the LIVES project.
This resulted in the birth of the IPMS project that was implemented by ILRI and the MoA from 2004-2013. Among its various results and outputs on market orientation, IPMS produced a guide to market-oriented agriculture extension services for use by development professionals.
At the conference, LIVES’ aim and vision to work towards institutionalizing market oriented extension approaches in the MoA’s extension service delivery system was discussed. Berhanu Gebremedhin, LIVES research coordinator, highlighted principles and features of a good extension service that focuses on market orientation.
‘In addition to appropriate technologies and practices, access to market information, creating linkages with different actors, facilitating and supporting collective marking, identifying profitable markets and buyers as well as building the marketing capacity of producers are major features of market-oriented extension services.’ he said
Practical examples on providing market-oriented extension services were explained by Dirk Hoekstra who led the IPMS project and now senior adviser for LIVES project. The case of the dairy value chain development in LIVES project sites and experiences in terms of input supply, production interventions, processing and marketing and the type of extension services provided at the different levels were also presented.
During the seminar, Barbara Wieland, an animal health expert at ILRI, made a presentation on lessons and challenges from Mongolia on pastoral development and collective action. Her presentation highlighted how collective action was used to improve the degraded rangelands of Mongolia and benefit herders. This presentation raised interest among the participants who wanted to learn from the experiences of Mongolia.
MoA staff expressed interest in replicating market-oriented extension in pastoral areas and learning how to deal with various actors in the value chain such as brokers, strengthening collective action approaches and filling in knowledge and skills gaps of development professionals in extension services.
Download the presentation on ‘Market-oriented extension services for agricultural transformation in Ethiopia‘