As part of the Feed the Future initiative of the US government, USAID is supporting three multi-stakeholder agricultural research projects looking at farming in Africa.
A training workshop for farmers from various states in Ethiopia was recently conducted by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).
Held at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, the workshop explained farm mechanisation schemes from Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation (Africa RISING) initiative that helps create opportunities for small farm households to improve food, nutrition and income security. The efficacy of the initiative has already been displayed in four regions of Ethiopia, and is now being implemented in eight more kebeles (small administrative units).
Dr. Frederic Baudron, a cropping systems agronomist speaking at the workshop, explained that both the quantity and quality of agricultural labour in declining in sub-Saharan Africa. The sub-Saharan region is also seeing a decline in the farm power available. This issue is being tackled by a project called Farm Mechanisation and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI).
Project manager Elias Berta explained that the project is trying to help small holder crop and livestock farmers in the Ethiopian highlands. Backed by participatory research, the project is taking an integrated approach of managing crops and livestock together for improved efficiency.
Semeret Yasabu, communication director at Africa RISING, spoke about the project’s work towards promoting mechanised technologies, such as a two-wheel tractor. Some of the farmers who attended in the workshop in Nairobi spoke well of the tractor, given its low power requirement and that it could also be used as a water pump or a mill, or even as a mode for transport, other than just ploughing their fields.
These initiatives and introduction of mechanised farming methods appropriate for the region should benefit Ethiopian farmers greatly in improving their outputs, thereby ensuring food and income security for their families.