In July, an ICRAF team comprising Aster Gebrekirstos (ICRAF scientist), Kiros Hadgu (ICRAF Ethiopia Country Representative) and Anne Kuria (ICRAF researcher) visited Lemu Woreda which contains two of the eight Kebeles of the Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian Highlands. The aim of the visit was to see progress on the local knowledge acquisition field work that is jointly carried out with national partners. They also met some of the farmers involved in the on-farm research demonstrations.
The scientists familiarized themselves with the landscape and discussed issues and challenges affecting farmers livelihoods. These include: challenges affecting crop productivity such as diseases e.g. the enset bacterial wilt ‘aloiya’ disease; soil erosion and reduced land productivity; fodder scarcity; lack of improved fruit tree species; and access to resource, and how this differs between male and female-headed households.
It was also an opportunity for the scientists to assess the local ecological knowledge study and how it could identify gaps through which trees’ integration with crops and livestock can contribute to the project goals. In this regard, issues highlighted included: access to tree germplasm; access to markets for tree products; and the value (ecological services and products) of trees (and their management) in meeting farmers’ needs. To complement the work of other CGIAR partners, ICRAF’s local knowledge findings will inform the selection of suitable tree species based on farmers’ felt needs, ecological suitability of trees, and market potential and tree species’ compatibility with the dominant farming systems.
The team also met some of the farmers involved in on-farm research to achieve impacts through scaling up knowledge and skills of agricultural best practices. Nine farmers from Jawe and nine farmers from upper Gana have been trained in crop-livestock production best practices and have planted wheat, faba bean, irish potatoes and several species of livestock fodder including Sesbania sesban tree species and grasses such as Pennisetum purpureum (elephant grass), and Pennisetum pedicellatum (desho grass).
Full story by Anne Kuria