By Mamusha Lemma, Abule Erbo and Addisu Abera
Haile Adugna is a farmer in the Suba Gojo kebele of Meta Robi District in West Shoa Zone of Oromia. In 2003, he started a rather traditional apiculture business with 1 modern, 2 transitional and 21 traditional beehives.
After attending a five-day practical skills-based training in improved beekeeping management, in 2014, he has expanded his business and now has more than 115 beehives including 23 modern ones each set up at a cost of ETB 1200 (USD 53) and 36 transitional beehives, which are worth about ETB 800 (USD 36) each.
The course included specifics on constructing and inspecting beehives, colony multiplication and transfer, hive inspection, dearth period feeding, and wax processing.
As a result of investing in the new hives, some of which he made after learning how to construct hives from the training, Haile increased his annual honey production from 5 kg to 10 kg per traditional hive and from 10 kg to 35 kg from a modern beehive in 2015.
Haile’s wife, Gete Adugnawho, who manages the day-to-day running of the apiculture business, learned beekeeping skills from her husband.
When asked about the benefits of the mixed group training approach (training farmers together with development agents and experts), Haile said that it was a rewarding experience both for farmers and development agents. In the training sessions, development agents assist farmers during practical sessions. The agents also become motivated to follow-up the producers/farmers, as they both have shared understanding and make commitments for learning application after the training.
The Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project has used action planning to ensure that the learning gained from such training is actually implemented in the workplace/farms. The action plans developed by farmers and development agents are used as the basis for follow-up and providing coaching and mentoring support. Using his new skills, Haile has constructed hives for other farmers in his village and influenced some of them to start beekeeping.
In 2014, Haile also received LIVES-supported training in improving livestock production and feeding practices. He says what he learned has enabled him to better understand how to select animals for fattening, improve feeding practices, and connect with quality concentrate feed suppliers. He can now fatten animals within three months using fewer feeds than before and is now also treating locally available feed resources to improve palatability and nutritive value of cattle feeds.
Haile’s activities have positively influenced farmers in his kebele and beyond. In field days organized by Meta Robi District Office of Agriculture in 2014 and 2015, about 200 farmers and development agents from 7 kebeles visited his farm. Development agents have also used his farm as a demonstration site to train other farmers. On a study tour organized by LIVES in 2015, about 50 farmers and development agents from Ada’a Berga District visited him to lean from his experiences.
Going forward, Haile says he plans to buy a feed chopper to formulate mixed feed rations, increase his fattening cycle, and reduce his feed expenses as well as provide chopping services in his community.