Ethiopia’s rural population suffers from increasing food insecurity caused by a combination of high population growth, deforestation, and a lack of efficient and sustainable agriculture. Smallholder farmers haven’t been able to increase their production, which means that they and their local communities are becoming heavily dependent on the global food market.
The German initiative, Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food sector – GIZ, aims to make smallholder farms more productive, raising farmers’ incomes and increasing the availability of locally grown food in local markets.
Picking the Low-Hanging Fruits
To achieve this, the Green Innovation Centre in Ethiopia is introducing and increasing the adoption rate of proven innovations that farmers in Western Europe have used for years and which increase productivity almost immediately. Doing this ensures the maximum impact while minimising insecurity, as such innovations are guaranteed to work as long as they’re adapted to the local setting and implemented in a sustainable way with local stakeholders’ support.
These innovations are combined with a general effort to professionalise the agricultural sector through the training and capacity building of relevant parties, such as farmers’ organizations.
All the initiatives are implemented with a focus on strengthening the value chains of two crops: wheat and faba beans. These crops were chosen after an evaluation showed that both grow well in Ethiopian soils, are great for alternating to maintain soil nutrition, and produce sought-after, easy-to-sell commodities.
Strong Reputation Ensures Sustainable Implementation
The Innovation Centre in Ethiopia works closely with existing structures such as the government, farmers’ organizations, and the private sector to ensure that local stakeholders feel ownership over the innovations and will continue to take responsibility for them.
NIRAS-IP Consult is in charge of the project and was chosen partly because of their strong experience and reputation in Ethiopia. As we are already so well-integrated into Ethiopia’s agricultural sectors, there is more interest in taking over the implementation and upscaling of initiatives.