Ethiopia: Making Ethiopia a Hub for Agricultural Research

Mahamoud el-Solh (Ph.D) is the director general of the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), an organization dedicated to investing in agricultural research with a special focus on enhancing productivity in dry areas.

Founded in 1977 in Syria after securing one thousand hectares of land from the Syrian government, ICARDA established its headquarters there. Thus far, Iran, Syria and Lebanon have been focal countries for its research. However, North African, South and West Asian countries have also been selected for ICARDA’s activities. Recently, it has also strengthened its presence in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa following the establishment of its regional research centers in India and Ethiopia. Nevertheless, the organization has a history of working with this country. Prior to setting up its office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has collaborated with the organization for around thirty years. Henok Reta of the Reporter caught up with the director-general while he visited the capital for the launching of the regional office. Excerpts:

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Gambia: TCP Project Manager On Significance of Farmer Field School

In today’s edition we will bring you the recent concluded training of agricultural extension workers across the country on farmers field school training held at the Wellingara Model Horticultural Centre. The importance attaches to capacity building on FFS and its impact on the farming community in improving agricultural productivity.

Kutubo Sanyang, the project manager of the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP), project funded through the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), lamented on the significance attached to this Technical Cooperation Pogram project called TCP.

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Tanzania: WEMA Seeds – a Science Breakthrough

Word is out that if you want to witness hope and optimists farmers, get kitted for destinations like Vitonga, one of the Mvomero villages, where Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) engage farmers in the field and demo trials.

An optimist Alfreda Jones, 35, a resident of Vitonga village nestled on green folding mountains of Uluguru, personifies hope. On July 17 this year, two weeks before the start of the famous annual agricultural exhibition known as Nane Nane, Alfreda peered into the distant horizon and quipped in her local Kiluguru vernacular: “When I saw your car I contemplated you have the keys to change my life.”

The maize yield in her demo plot where she planted seeds supplied to her by WEMA visually outweigh the yield in adjacent farms. Even Alfreda’s seven-year-old son Fred Jones knows the difference. Welcome to Mvomero district of Morogoro, where climate change – started dashing the hopes of resource-poor farmers.

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East Africa: Rwandan Farmers Gain From EAX

Kigali — Farmers here will benefit from the recently launched regional commodity exchange market, because it is now possible to trade their produce on a regional platform which can offer higher returns.

“The East African Exchange market serves the East African Community. Rwanda being part of it is very crucial since this will give a chance to farmers to produce quality products compete with other traders on market hence gain more from their trade,” Kadri Alfah, the Chief Operations Officer at EAX said.

“We have started working with different farmers’ cooperatives (about 120.000 farmers) through the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and these are going to help other farmers bring their produce to our warehouses,” Kadri said.

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Tanzania: Central Banks in Africa Urged to Finance Agriculture

Nairobi — THE conference on revolutionising finance for agriculture value chains held recently in Nairobi has come to an end. Providing finance in agriculture was described as “putting the flesh on the skeleton.”

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU Director, Mr Michael Hailu said the resolutions made by participants is a clear indicator that the conference was a huge success.

“The time for pilot and demonstration farms is over, it is time to replicate the success stories that we heard and scale up,” he said. Mr Hailu said apart from the ideas that had overflooded the conference, had a whopping 731 participants hailing from 81 countries, over 50 news articles, 52 blogs covered the event with a readership of over 5,000 people.

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Africa: Money Fails to Flow Into Seed Treaty’s Benefits Fund

A shortfall in funding is threatening the future of an international treaty on sharing benefits from plant genetic resources, known as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).

The treaty was established in 2005 to improve access to genetic resources of 64 key crops for food and agriculture, and to equitably share the commercial benefits arising from their use.

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Indigenous vegetables ‘boost food security in Nigeria’

Indigenous vegetables grown by rural farmers in Africa have the potential to improve food security, nutrition and incomes on the continent, researchers in Nigeria say.

In a paper presented on underutilised vegetables project in Nigeria during the Research to Feed Africa Symposium in Naivasha, Kenya, last month (23-27 June), the researchers note that research systems have failed to prioritise indigenous vegetable species despite their immense potential.

The researchers say they selected six underused indigenous vegetables— African nightshade, eggplant, scarlet eggplant, local celery, fluted pumpkin and local amaranth — based on their food values, consumer acceptability, marketing potential and amenability to agronomic practices.

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