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Sesame farmers field days held in northwest Ethiopia

More than 700 people attended the sesame field days held from October 7-9 at Tach Armachiho, West Armachiho, Tegede, Tsegede and Kafta Humera woredas.

The field days were organised to demonstrate the effectiveness of the recommended best sesame production technologies and practices to farmers and higher officials. In addition, the crop rotation trials, which have been run in Farmer Training Centers (FTCs) since June 2014 in the eight woredas of the Sesame Business Network, were shown.

Dr Geremew Terefe, SBN national coordinator, explaining about crop rotation trial

Attendees visited demonstration plots of improved sesame production technologies in five model farmers’ fieldsand crop rotation trials in five FTCs. Participants were representing the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Amhara and Tigray regional Agricultural Research Institutes, zone and woreda Offices of Agriculture, 2SCALE project, ECX, AGP, ISSD project and other government and private organisations. Selected farmers also joined the field visit in their localities.

Farmers and officials have appreciated the roll out of best sesame production technologies.

Higher officials, including Mr. Martin Koper and Dr. Worku Tessema from the Netherlands Embassy at Addis Ababa, Dr. Adugna Wakjira, deputy director of Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute, and Ted Schrader, coordinator of the SBN Support Programme from CDI, Wageningen University, the Netherlands attended the three day field visits.

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Dr. Adugna Wakjira, deputy director of EARI, speaking to farmers about the improved sesame technologies

Dr. Adugna Wakjira, deputy director of EARI, said that: “Sesame is the second most important crop that brings foreign currency to the country, after coffee. We have seen important results that will increase the productivity and quality of sesame.”  He attributed the results achieved in the scaling out of improved sesame technologies to the combined efforts of all stakeholders in the sesame sector, from farmers to, administrators, agricultural research centres, Offices of Agriculture.

Mr. Koper from the Netherlands embassy said: “The field days are an eye opener for me. Sesame is a big operation in Ethiopia. It is an important part of the economy, the export of Ethiopia. It should be given all the attention it deserves.  The Sesame Business Network is very important. They have been very instrumental in getting people together, improving the technology and working together with farmers and all other stakeholders to boost the farmers’ income.” He added, “The next step is to get a better price when selling sesame to the buyers. I think SBN will pay attention to that part of the sesame value chain.”

Ted Schrader, SBN Support Programme coordinator, on his part said that SBN and its support programme are working by focusing on five areas: 1) yield and quality improvement,2)harvest loss reduction,3) credit cost reduction,3)post-harvest value creation; 4) market development. This year to improve yield and quality of sesame, together with partners the Support Programme put together the famous brochure: 20 Important Steps to Double Yield and Improve Quality of Sesame. “If we improve productivity of sesame with 50%, the country can earn 4 billion ETB every year”. He added, “Since we are in our second year we are in number one and two. Access to credit is number one priority; credit is extremely expensive. Farmers need credit to buy inputs to pay for the labourers. The formal credit system needs to take over and do better. I hope we find solution for the credit issue.”

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Left to right: Dr. Worku Tessema, Mr.Martin Koper and Ted Schrader visiting the demonstration plots

Attendees visited demonstration plots of improved sesame production technologies in five model farmers’ fields; and crop rotation trials in five FTCs.

The field days served as platforms for farmers and professionals at different levels (woreda, zone region and federal level) for sharing and learning from field results on their application of the 20 step sesame production technology package. The feedbacks from attendees were significantly positive. Most farmers appreciated the sesame planted using the improved production technologies such as row planting, fertiliser application, three times weeding etc.

Farmers also raised challenges such as pest and disease problem, lack of quality seed varieties which could resist pest and disease, lack of farm machineries, fertiliser recommendation for different areas, lack of market for relatively new rotational crops. Professionals from the two regions and the federal Agriculture Research Institutes promised farmers that they will do all their best to search for solutions for these and other challenges raised.

Attendees were drawn from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Amhara and Tigray regional Agricultural Research Institutes, zone and woreda Offices of Agriculture, 2SCALE project, EXC, AGP, ISSD project and other government and private organisations. Selected farmers also joined the field visit in their localities.

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By Sesame Business Network, Gondar-Ethiopia