Regional level field day held at Central and Mirab Gondar zones

On the 17th of September 2019, the Agriculture Offices of Tach Armachiho, Tegede and Mirab Armachiho Woredas in collaboration with Gondar Agricultural Research Center (GARC), ATA and Benefit-SBN organized a one-day field day for more than 300 individuals convened from regional, zone, woreda and kebele level stakeholders. In attendance were administrators, researchers, agricultural expert, heads from different bureaus and offices and farmers.

Participants of the field day first visited smallholder farmers’ fields where sesame was planted in a cluster of neighbouring fields at Kisha Kebele Tach Armachiho woreda. 32 farmers come together and planted sesame using good agricultural practices in 38 hectares of their adjacent fields at Kish Kebele.

The head of the Kebele Agriculture Office and two members of the group of farmers who work in the same cluster shared their experiences and the significance of working together in clusters with the participants.

On the occasion, Dr. Bosena Tegegn from Amhara Bureau of Agriculture stated: “We have clearly seen the distinction between cluster and conventional farming. Framers themselves are witnessing that using cluster farming helped them to apply the recommended technologies easily. This approach is very important. It is increasing the production and productivity of crops. We need to scale up the approach.”

Then visitors went to Tegede woreda and visited the soya bean field in a commercial farmer field at Marzeneb kebele.

Subsequently, participants headed to Mirab Armachiho to visit a seed multiplication and research site of GARC at Abrhajira kebele. Mr. Asfaw Azanaw, director of GARC thanked the Woreda administration for providing the land for the research center. He mentioned that the research and seed multiplication site is helping the surrounding farmers learn about the improved production technologies which are implemented by the researchers. Mr. Girmachew Wube , a researcher at GARC, explained about the major activities that have been done in the center. He said: “GARC is multiplying sesame, soya bean, and sunflower seeds in 3.87ha, 12.17ha, and 0.91ha of land, respectively”.

At last, participants visited a farmer training center and sesame cluster farm at Terefwork kebele, Mirab Armachiho woreda.

During the visit, development agents, researchers and agricultural professionals explained about the activities which has been done in each specific field.

The field day helped officials and professionals not only to see what has been done at the ground level but it also served as information sharing and discussion platform on the major challenges.

During the discussions at Mirab Armachiho, after the visit, participants of the field day appreciated the collaborative efforts of BoA at different levels, ATA, ARARI/GARC and Benefit-SBN in supporting farmers apply good agricultural practices and increase their productions and productivity.

A visit to a soya bean field at Marzeneb kebele, Tegede Woreda

Among the points raised during the discussions are:

  • There is an interesting progress but we should not get proud of this. In view of the enormous challenges that have been observed the works done so far is very limited. There is still limited availability of quality seed; we do not invest much in the low land areas. Research, seed enterprise and other stakeholders do not seem to carry out their job to the anticipated level.
  • For many years in the field days, we’ve shown the works we’ve been doing in a small piece of land. A proportion of farmers have not yet used enhanced agricultural technologies. There are still a lot of problems that need to be addressed in the sector.
  • Limited attention is given to mechanization. Machinery such as deep ploughs, row planters and cultivators need to be accessible in the farmer training centers. Development agents are trying to teach the farmers using traditional farm implements. No technical training was given to professionals on mechanization.
  • The knowledge and skills of professionals are not as such different from farmers. To provide quality support, first professionals need to be trained well.
  • In a field day like this one, attention should not only be given to the fields with good performance, professionals and researchers should have also visited those fields which did not perform well due to weather problems such as water logging. Visiting those areas may instigate researchers to come up with different recommendations and solutions which could help meet such challenges.
  • We raise the same kinds of challenges every year. We need to break the tradition. We need to think differently and work in collaboration so as to bring the expected change. The results we have seen today are not as such visible in many of the farmers’ fields.
  • There is still no distinction between the smallholder and commercial farmers practices. Investment office can make the recommended management by the research as criteria in evaluating commercial farmers practices.
  • Commercial farmers are demanding quality seed and chemicals. In some cases, they are forced to smuggle from neighboring countries.
After the field visit, participants discussed together at Abrhajira

In responding the questions raised from participants, Dr. Teshome Walle from ATA said that the challenges raised pertaining to quality seed and rotation crops need to be addressed immediately. He said that ATA will try to support the clusters. It is also trying to meet the challenges of mechanization. “A mechanization center will be launched at Metema. We are working to launch agricultural service centers in different areas. The centers will meet the demand of quality seeds, fertilizer and chemicals in the future.” He added: “ Marketing problem of soya bean will be resolved soon as there is a great demand of soya bean from Bure Agro-Processing Industry”.

Dr. Ermias Abate from ARARI said: “There is a great potential which could help bring change in the region but supports should be provided to tap the potential resources and make use of it for the betterment of the region. Most of the issues raised are strategic. Let’s take the issues as an assignment and try to respond for them after discussing at regional level together with higher level decision makers at Bahir Dar.