improved soil health management practices
14 February, 2013, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Federal Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) today launched a new US$ 5 million project aimed at doubling agricultural production by smallholder farmers in the next five years.
The project, which will target over 90,000 smallholder farmers in six regional states, will among other things co-finance the procurement of three lime crushers to deal with high levels of acidity in soils in various states. Targeted Regional states include Oromia, Amhara, SNNPRS, Tigray, Gambela and Benshangul Gumuz.
''The current project that we are launching with AGRA is one among several initiatives that the Ministry of Agriculture has prioritized to tackle key agricultural productivity constraints in the country,'' says Prof. Tekalign Mamo, State Minister and Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture. ''There are already encouraging achievements being made in this regard, and in the next three years, our plan is to scale out improved soil fertility management packages to a minimum of ninety thousand farmers' households''.
''Recently, the Ethiopian Government has launched two important programs, the National Soil Fertility Mapping, and the Fertilizer Blending Program. While the first one will help identify key nutrients that are in short supply in the soil and thus limit yield, hence, what types of fertilizers to use, the second program is about manufacturing the required fertilizers in-country and distributing to farmers. The project with AGRA and the ongoing soil fertility initiatives, have direct linkage since AGRA is partnering to realize the desired increase in agricultural productivity using existing packages and new information being generated from the two new programs. From the Ministry side, we appreciate our partnership with AGRA and believe that, together with our stakeholders including AGP, it won't be long before we change the country's food security image''.
“We have chosen to implement this project in partnership with the Ethiopian government because we believe that the country has the potential to achieve a green revolution and become a net-exporter of food within the next few years if well supported,” says Dr. Bashir Jama AGRA’s Director for the Soil Health Program. “What is needed is sustained investments in the agricultural development sector and strategic support for smallholder farmers across the country through the provision of improved seeds, integrated soil fertility management practices and good extension support.”
“We are confident that the project will have the expected impact because it seeks to increase agricultural productivity on a sustainable basis by expanding key interventions including soil fertility management technologies,” he adds. “Priority interventions will include expanding the integration of grain legumes into cereal based cropping systems, strengthening soil-fertility advisory services, dealing with acid soil management and introduction and testing of new fertilizer formulations and scaling up the use of bio-fertilizer materials”.
The project will target four key cereal crops namely maize, teff, barley and wheat and four grain legumes namely soybeans, faba beans, lentils and chick peas. It will rally for farmers to adopt integrated soil fertility management approaches. It seeks to ensure a 100 per cent increase in improved yields as well as a 60 per cent increase in access to fertilizers and improved seeds by the targeted 90,000 smallholder farmers.
Currently the national yield average for all cereals in Ethiopia is less than two tons per hectare and the figure for pulse crops is generally around 0.8 two tons per hectare. The soil fertility constraints include top soil erosion, loss of soil organic matter, soil macronutrient and micronutrient depletion, salinity and acidity.
“To address the soil fertility challenges in Ethiopia, multiple interventions are needed including the use of lime and adoption of integrated soil fertility management practices by smallholder farmers,” says Dr. Bashir.
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About the Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia (MoA)
The Ministry of Agriculture was first established in 1907 to enhance agricultural production in the country. However, the past decades did not bring meaningful change to small scale farmers; nor did the sector contributed to the economy as expected. During the past two decades, the sector was revitalized with a new agricultural policy and strategy [(Agricultural Development led Industrialization (ADLI)] developed in 1991 that mainly aimed at transforming the agriculture sector. The structure of the agriculture system has also been revised to provide effective service to farmers. While the Ministry gives strategic support and coordinates national initiatives, the Regional governments have also established bureaus of agriculture whose structure extends up to peasant association level More than fifty thousand extension agents were also trained to help farmers with improved technologies. At the same time, thousands of farmers' training centers have been established to serve as demonstration and training centres for farmers.
Since the start of the implementation of this timely and effective agricultural policy and strategy, the agricultural sector has witnessed continuous growth, particularly in the past decade. The Ethiopian Government has also launched a series of food security programs since the 2003, and the Productive Safety net Program for the more than 300 food insecure woredas or administrative districts. The various programs have been implemented in partnership with key international organizations and bilateral agencies. In 2010, the Government also released the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) as an engineer for the overall growth of the economy. According to the GTP, agricultural production is slated to double the 2010 national yield level.
About the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
AGRA is a dynamic partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. AGRA programs develop practical solutions to significantly boost farm productivity and incomes for the poor while safeguarding the environment. AGRA advocates for policies that support its work across all key aspects of the African agricultural value chain from seeds, soil health and water to markets and agricultural education.
AGRA's Board of Directors is chaired by Kofi A. Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Ms. Jane Karuku, former Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General of Telkom Kenya, is AGRA's President. With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK's Department for International Development, USAID and other donors, AGRA works across sub-Saharan Africa and maintains offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana