The Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project has now been three years on the ground working with professionals, farmers, input suppliers, service providers and government officials to develop selected livestock commodities and irrigated crops. It is being implemented with development partners in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions.
We have collectively learned a lot from interventions in the various components of the project (commodity value chain development, capacity development, knowledge management, action research and promotion), and we have had a rewarding and challenging three years.
In livestock value chains development, LIVES works across the value chains of five commodities, namely dairy, poultry, small ruminants, large ruminants and apiculture. The project has introduced and demonstrated a number of technological, organizational and institutional interventions to improve livestock productivity and farmers’ income.
In terms of irrigation crops value chain development, LIVES has been working on irrigated fodder, vegetables and fruits. While diagnosing the focus areas, LIVES, at the same time, has introduced and demonstrated, with partner institutions, a number of interventions ranging from water sourcing, lifting and delivery, through to on-farm management.
In support of commodity value chains development, LIVES supported a total of 463 businesses/organizations. This support includes establishing new businesses, strengthening existing ones and improving market linkage. To accelerate efficiency and competitiveness in the business sector, the project also introduced new technologies and training on basic business skill development.
Technological, organizational and institutional interventions introduced through value chain interventions were supported by capacity development of producers, input/service providers and marketing businesses and development partners through training and follow-up coaching/mentoring. Between April 2013 and March 2015, LIVES has trained and coached 17, 202 (21% female) producers, 5,732 (20% female) input/service providers and 717 (34% female) processing and marketing businesses. In support of public extension staff, 97 MSc fellows (48% female) have been enrolled in regular and summer programs. With regard to the public research staff, 70 fellowships have also been offered and 30 students (6% female) have started their research projects. In addition, 30 competitive research fellowships have been offered and 25 fellowships (16% female) have been awarded. In total, 27 students have so far completed their studies.
LIVES has also revamped and established a total of 39 Agriculture Knowledge Centres (AKCs) within project intervention districts and zones. AKCs offer internet connections and equipment including computers, television sets, video cameras and furniture to support learning and knowledge sharing. Knowledge management events such as experience sharing tours for value chain actors and partners at various levels from experts to policymakers and promotional activities to disseminate knowledge and technologies outside LIVES direct intervention areas were organized through the knowledge management and promotion pillar.
To fine-tune interventions and package promising technologies, action research and documentation activities are also carried out by project staff, partner research institutions and graduate students. All value chain development interventions are designed to address gender and environmental issues.
An in-house review of activities showed that LIVES targets in terms of number of household and kebele coverage has been achieved and even exceeded in some areas. LIVES will now concentrate and anchor its activities deeper into the practices of farmers and the minds of decision-makers and organize and package the project outputs in suitable forms for decision-makers to feed into national development efforts. Therefore, while focusing on capacity building in limited areas, collection of data on performances of these technologies and development of business models for various technological interventions will be some of the project’s priority areas in the coming years.