Field day on improved sesame production technologies

“In order to meet the demand of agro-processing industries under construction, the country needs to produce more than one time per year. The government is ready to support farmers produce more than one time a year using irrigation.”

Nearly 400 individuals including higher-level government officials from federal to woreda level and sesame farmers visited improved sesame and rotation crops production technologies in Tach Armachiho and Tegede woredas of Central Gondar zone on the 17th of September 2018.

The filed visit allowed to showcase the improved sesame production package scaling up by Gondar Agricultural Research Center (GARC), Central Gondar zone Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and Benefit-SBN.

While introducing the field visit programme, Mr.Tsedalu Jemberu, GARC’s director said that considering the focus of the federal and regional government on sesame, GARC and BoA in collaboration with ATA and Benefit-SBN, run a scaling up activity in more than 240 hectares of land. Tsedalu added: “It is possible to harvest more than eight quintal sesame per hectare by employing improved production technologies which is two-threefold compared to the traditional practice which yields from 2-4 quintals per hectare. We are working in this direction. Using the improved production technologies will help increase productivity and support to generate foreign currency for the country.”

In the occasion, Dr. Eyasu Abraha, state minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource (M0ANR) appreciated the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders and partners in the SBN. He said: “Relying on rainfed agriculture alone will not benefit the country. To benefit more from the sector, and to meet the demands of agro-processing industries under construction, the country needs to produce more than ones per year. The government is ready to support farmers produce more than ones per year using irrigation.”

“The field visit will help us evaluate the losses we have because of the failure to use improved technologies. It will also help us introduce new technologies which help farmers reduce post-harvest losses. Moreover, it will help us learn from the practice of cluster farming in the area and package and share the experiences to other similar areas of the country” said Dr. Eyasu.

Attendees visited improved sesame and soya bean production technologies in small scale and largescale farmers fields. They were also made to visit a sesame field which is cultivated using the traditional farming practice so that they can compare the improved practice with the conventional one. Owners of the visited farms and researchers and development agents who have been supporting the farmers gave brief explanations about the activities done in the visited farms.

While visiting the soya bean field Dr.Teshome Walle, head for Organization for Relief and Rehabilitation Development, said that soya bean will be the strategic commodity for the region and the country. It has multiple benefits, It can play an important role in meeting food security issues and improving soil fertility. It can be used for oil production. The productivity is from15- 30 quintals per hectare. He suggested that attention need to be given to the availability of improved seed, mechanisation and scaling up of improved soya bean technologies.

Later, participants discussed with the higher level officials at Abrhajira. Among the major points raised during and suggestions made during the discussion are:

  • There is a problem in the agricultural extension system. A lot has been done thus far but the expected change has not yet come. Continuing with this trend will not bring change. Different approaches should be used. Both national and regional governments need to consider this and provide special attention to the agricultural extension system.
  • Some farmers are trying to employ the 20 steps improved production technologies, but the available technology is not allowing them to produce more. There should be a mechanized solution for smallholder farmers.
  • The working culture of farmers needs to be changed. There needs to be change in the mindset of farmers. Farmers need to see their farming activity as a business.
  • Turnover of agricultural professionals is affecting the agriculture sector. Professionals need to be capacitated and supported.
  • Agricultural Research Centres need to release improved varieties which can resist the persistent water logging problem. They also need to consider releasing non-shattering sesame varieties.
  • Availability of chemical for pest and disease protection is a problem. Farmers mentioned if they cannot get it soon they may lose their cotton produce
  • Commercial farmers do have the land but they are not using it properly. They have to invest in their land and produce more.
  • Improved technologies need to reach more and more farmers. Scaling out should be done intensively.
  • The productivity of sesame at present is very limited. Stakeholders and partners need to strengthen their collaboration and work to change farmers.
  • Government

The focus of the support was only for smallholder farmers but now attention will also be given to largescale farmers. Government is determined to meet challenges in relation to agricultural inputs, facilitating finance, marketing, infrastructure and security issues.

MoANR recognised the effort of the zone in improving the sesame sector and awarded two sesame harvesting machines to GARC.

A one-pager which shows the major activities of SBN stakeholders, partners and Benefit-SBN were distributed to field visit participants.