CDI-WUR manager pays a visit to the sesame production areas of Northwest Ethiopia

Hedwig Bruggeman, Manager of Centre for Development Innovation at Wageningen University and Research (CDI-WUR) together with Dr. Irene Koomen, BENEFIT coordinator and Dr. Dawit Alemu, BENEFIT manager visited the sesame production area of Northwest Ethiopia, from 03rd-4th of September 2019.

Gashaw, while explaining about his home garden to the visitors

The group came to Dansha on the first day of the trip and visited Gashaw Mesafint’s, a smallholder sesame farmer, home gardening site. Gashaw has been trained and supported by Benefit-SBN to grow vegetables and fruits in his backyard. They visited the papaya, mango, guava, lady’s finger, green paper and other fruits and vegetables. They also talked to the farmer and his wife Enaneye Tizazu on how the couple are handling the production and marketing of their produces, the challenges they face and on how they can do their operations better.

The visitors then went to Humera and visited sesame fields planted in clusters and seed multiplication sites of Humera Agricultural Research Center (HuARCs). They also discussed with the chairperson and manager of Miabel Multipurpose Cooperative. The chairperson of the cooperative board and the manager briefly described about the guarantee fund, financial literacy and bottom-up planning activities that they have been carrying out with Benefit-SBN’s technical and financial support.

A visit to the sesame field at the flowering atage of the plant around Humera

On the morning of the next day, the visitors went to Midregenet and Abrhajira areas of Mirab Armachiho woreda and look at farmer training centres (FTCs) seed multiplication and other research activities of Gondar Agricultural Research Center (GARC) and an investor farmer’s field where sesame and rotation crops such as mung bean, soya bean, sun flower and sorghum have been planted using good agricultural practices. In the afternoon, they visited other FTCs, small-scale farmers’ fields and Hiwot Mechanization cotton and sesame farm.

During their visit, Hedwig and participants have discussed with farmers, development agents, cooperative managers, researchers and Benefit-SBN staff members. The conversations helped them learn more about the Sesame Business Network (SBN) significant activities and the important supports provided to the stakeholders by Benefit-SBN.

Hedwig Bruggeman, Manager of CDI said: “I was very impressed to see the results… I lived in Africa quite for some time. I have been in different places in Africa but I have never been in Northwest Ethiopia and I have never seen sesame. I was really excited. What I have seen was much more than What I expected. I have learned a lot about sesame in these two days. I understand a bit of what you are doing and what you are facing.”  She added; “I see that you are really working together- Agricultural Research Centres, Benefit-SBN team, government. I can see that this collaboration is making a difference …”

Dr. Irene, BENEFIT Coordinator on her part said: “It is really fascinating.  You are doing in a different context, a completely different farming system from what I know before. We have seen your achievements. We can learn a lot from that. We have half a year to go. It is time to think on how we can capitalize on the lessons we have learned thus far.” Dr Irene added that Benefit-SBN need to sale itself. She said: “…make your own story, not only farmers’ story, but what Benefit-SBN project has contributed to the SBN….” She also reminded the Benefit-SBN staff members to think out of the box; think about the game changers in the system; think about the next steps that they need to do.

Dr. Dawit Alemu appreciated Benefit-SBN for coming up with concrete evidences which can be brought to the national level. He said that Benefit-SBN has been doing a very good job regarding nutrition, sesame-20 steps and rotation crops such as mung bean, soybean and sorghum. He also emphasized on the importance of thinking about systemic change in the sesame sub-sector.  He added we should identify issues such as financial literacy, guarantee fund and compile the experience, make a story for a higher-level engagement.