Agriculture / Animal Feeding / ASSP / DFATD / Ethiopia / Forages / ILRI / LIVES / Tigray

Scaling out fertilizer application in communal grazing areas in Tigray—is it a blue print approach?

Grazing land fertilisation (2)

Grazing land fertilization in Tigray region (photo credit:ILRI\Yayneshet Tesfay).

The establishment of enclosures in communal grazing areas has been widely adopted in several sites in the Tigray region of Ethiopia following community-based interventions by the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) and its predecessor, the Improving Productivity and Market Success of Smallholder farmers (IPMS) project.

The LIVES project is currently supporting the use of urea top dressing technologies for fodder cultivation in enclosures in intervention districts in eastern and central zones of Tigray. Results, after field demonstrations, showed that when enclosures are top dressed with urea at a rate of 150 and 200 kg N/ha, yields increased by 4.7 folds and cutting frequencies tripled compared to unfertilized control plots.

The ‘LIVES  communal grazing area’ in the Dura peasant association (PA) in Laelay Maychew District in central Tigray is about 12 hectares and has 300 users, including 53 female-headed households (FHH).  The technology has been tested successfully in three ha and reviewed by the community. The next step is scaling out to the whole district.

After the community approved the fertilization technology by majority vote, the existing randomized grass harvest access system was used for the collective purchase and application of the fertilizers for the 12 hectares. Each member or group contributed according to their access right. This resulted in the 300 members contributing cash for the collective purchase of 12 quintals of fertilizers for the first application after the initial demonstration. It is understood that the by-laws for user access are similar for all districts in the central zone and scaling out could be relatively fast.

In contrast, the users rights for the enclosed areas in eastern Tigray differ. Here individuals have user rights to plots in the communal grazing area and the purchase and application of fertilizers is an individual decision.

The effects on scaling out could be observed in one of the demonstration communal grazing area in Hadush Hiwot PA. In this PA, only 21 of the 580 users purchased fertilizers after the successful demonstration. This low adoption rate may have been influenced by the severe drought situation in eastern Tigray during 2015.

To scale out within the LIVES districts, representatives from PAs and communal grazing areas in the districts, including women and youth, participated in a field day organized by the district office of agriculture. In Laelay Maitchew District, the technology was demonstrated to 15 PAs with a similar grazing area tenure system and so far 2 PAs have applied 43.5 quintals of urea.

The results were also presented in regional events, and the test areas were visited by the regional government officials and representatives from all districts in Tigray. To speed up the scaling out of the fertilizer technology to more districts, the regional bureau of agriculture made demonstration fertilizers available for all interested districts. While this shows the strong commitment of the Tigray regional bureau, the lessons learned suggest that farmers in other districts should also be advised on the organizational intervention based on the tenure system of their communal grazing lands.

By Dirk Hoekstra, Yayneshet Tesfay, Gebremedhin Woldewahid, Haile Tilahun and  Dawit Woldemariam.

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