Chickpea and pigeonpea

Photo credit: ICRISAT

Photo: Abrham Tigist, ICRISAT

Project on chickpea and pigeonpea launched in Ethiopia

A new project targeting chickpea in north Gondar region of Ethiopia and pigeonpea in northern Uganda was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July.

The project focus for the two legumes is on – Developing and disseminating farmer and market preferred varieties and best bet technologies; Collection and characterization of unique germplasm;  Developing integrated seed systems and market value chains to improve farmers’ income. Ms Silvia Fluch and Ms Eva-Maria Sehr represented Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT); Dr NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist – Breeding (Grain Legumes), Dr Christopher Ojiewo, Senior Scientist – Legumes Breeding (ESA) and Dr Sabine Homann Kee Tui, Scientist, Markets, Institutions and Policies, represented ICRISAT at the meeting.

Project: Food legumes for enhanced food and nutritional security, systems productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia and Uganda

See the text: ICRISAT


Seeds for Needs Initiative in Ethiopia


Diversity in durum wheat landraces to tackle drought

A set of factsheets about our Seeds for Needs Initiative in Ethiopia.

Bioversity International’s ‘Seeds for Needs’ initiative works with farmers to research how agricultural biodiversity can help minimize the risks associated with climate change. The concept is simple – if farmers have better information and access to a wide range of varieties, they are more able to choose what best suits their conditions and cope with unpredictable weather.

Seeds for Needs is trying to encourage this by exposing farmers to more crop varieties and increase their first-hand knowledge about different traits and options available and  strengthening their seed systems and seed-saving capacity so that they always have access to planting material that fits their changing needs.

See the text: Biodiversity International

Green Revolution in Ethiopia

Photo credit: WRI

Ethiopia is now greener than it has been in the last 145 years. Photo by Chris Reij/WRI

How Ethiopia Went from Famine Crisis to Green Revolution


As President Obama traveled to Ethiopia this week for meetings about security, human rights, and to visit the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, most people likely conjured up images of the country from the 1980s—a land ravaged by drought and famine. July 13, 2015 marked the 30th anniversary of the Live Aid concert for Ethiopia organized by Bob Geldof to mobilize funding for famine relief.

What most people probably don’t know is that Ethiopia has made significant progress during the last 20 years in restoring its degraded lands and improving its food and water security. According to Belgian and Ethiopian researchers,” Northern Ethiopia is now greener than it has ever been during the last 145 years,” and “human investments have overridden the impacts of climate change.”

So what happened?

A new documentary, Ethiopia Rising: Red Terror to Green Revolution, co-funded by WRI and made by award-winning UK filmmaker Mark Dodd, tells the story of how Ethiopia’s people restored vast areas of degraded land to productivity. Their story offers inspiration for other countries facing degraded soils, famine and climate change.

See the full article: World Resources Institute

On-farm soil and water conservation measures

Photo credit: IWMI

Erosion is demolishing the infrastructure, the land and soil of the farmers in Ethiopia.
Photo: Petterik Wiggers / IWMI

Ethiopia’s farmers pay a high price for soil erosion

In a country of steep valleys and heavy seasonal rains, soil loss is a persistent threat. But just how much does erosion cost farmers? A new study suggests that for some Ethiopian smallholders, it may represent as much as half of their annual income.

Farming in much of rural Ethiopia is a precarious business. Whilst a wide variety of climatic conditions and land types mean that many crops can be grown, the reality is that smallholder farmers have little opportunity to develop their plots. Poverty and lack of infrastructure are at the root of much of the problem, but a capricious climate and fragile landscape compound the issue. Soil erosion is a constant and widespread threat. Together with nutrient depletion, it is estimated that soil loss puts 30,000 hectares of the country’s cropland out of production annually – that’s an area nearly two thirds the size of Addis Ababa.

Read the full article: IWMI

How to restore a degraded landscape in Ethiopia ?

Photo credit: ICRISAT

The local government, Wollo University and ICRISAT are working on restoring the degraded landscape around Lake Haik and improving agricultural productivity in the region.. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT

Protecting and improving productivity of fragile landscapes in Ethiopia

Increasing agricultural productivity while improving the ecosystem and managing the fragile landscape around Logo Haik (Lake Haik) of the Amhara region in Ethiopia was the key issue discussed at a workshop that brought together policy makers, researchers, development partners and academic institutions in the region.

Soil erosion and water scarcity in the upstream areas, siltation, and deterioration of water quality downstream are the major issues.

Speakers highlighted the need for initiating a new joint watershed management initiative in the degraded landscape around Logo Haik, a crater lake. This initiative is expected to jointly develop strategies to enhance agricultural productivity (mainly sorghum) and food security upstream, while protecting the ecosystems of Logo Haik downstream through integrated watershed management. Developing a learning site for intensification of dryland sorghum-based systems in Ethiopia is another important objective.


Read the full article: ICRISAT

A small scale farmer in Ethiopia

Photo credit: UNCCD

Worldbank/Terra Africa

Meri Geta Hulgize Nurelgne: Farmer, Wereda: East Estie, Kebele: Zegora Wemberoch

The World’s Land Heroes

The land here used to be barren and dry – no trees grew, and the soil kept washing away down the hill into the Nile. Large rocks would often roll down and drop on our villages. Since the terraces have been built with the trees, we can find water within 7 metres of ground level – we used to struggle to find water at 20 metres. I now produce a higher quality crop, with two to three times the yield. I can now send my children to school. I have three daughters at university – one has just finished her Master’s degree. I also have a son at school, and I send my grandchildren to school too.

Meri Geta is one of some 500 million small scale farmers around the world support their families and the livelihoods of 2 billion people. Without sustainable land management, how can we meet the universal goals of equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water (Goal 6.1), end hunger and ensure access to safe and nutritious food (Goal 2.1), double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers (Goal 2.3), restore degraded land and soil (Goal 15.3), ensure inclusive and equitable quality education (Goal 4) and eliminate gender disparities in education (Goal 4.5)?

Posted by UNCCD on Facebook 2015-06-05

Reversing the clock

Photo credit: IWMI-CGIAR

Hillside exclosures in in the Gomit watershed of the Amhara regional state, Ethiopia. Wolde Mekuria Bori

Ethiopian communities attempt to save biodiversity and livelihoods

Denuded slopes and landscapes sliced open by gullies are common sights in the northern highlands of Ethiopia where deforestation, erosion and loss of biodiversity are on the rise. For a population largely dependent on smallholder agriculture, environmental degradation is a significant threat to food production and livelihoods. But a recent study shows that exclosures – sections of communal land protected from grazing and crop production – could help communities turn back the clock before it’s too late.

According to the study, exclosures can restore degraded ecosystems, diversify incomes and support the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. However, setting aside these communal areas can increase pressure on other shared resources, such as fuelwood and grazing land. To address these trade-offs and support a balance between short-term and long-term needs, community participation and incentives are vital throughout the project.

Exclosure benefits

Exclosures promote the regeneration of native plants and trees, which help retain moisture and nutrients in the soil and prevent erosion. Exclosures also reduce greenhouse gasses, thereby lessening the consequences of climate change; during ‘carbon sequestration’, plants pull CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their stems and leaves. Trees are particularly important for long-term carbon storage.

Read the full article: IWMI-CGIAR

See also:

Mekuria, W.; Langan, S.; Johnston, R.; Belay, B.; Amare, D.; Gashaw, T.; Desta, G.; Noble, A.;  Wale, A. 2015. Restoring aboveground carbon and biodiversity: a case study from the Nile basin, Ethiopia. Forest Science and Technology. [doi: 10.1080/21580103.2014.966862]

This work has been undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems(WLE).

A New Hope for Africa



Regreening Ethiopia’s Highlands: A New Hope for Africa (6 min)

This World Bank/TerrAfrica documentary showcases Ethiopia’s success in sustainable land and water management. It highlights how a landscape approach was used to manage land, water and forest resources to meet the goals of food security and inclusive green growth. The lessons drawn are relevant for other countries in the region and other parts of the world fighting land degradation and climate change issues.

VIDEO (en français)


Vidéo (IFAD)

Éthiopie: Surveiller la sécheresse

Hassan Adile connaît bien la sécheresse. À l’instar des 12 millions de pasteurs que compte l’Éthiopie, il parcourt de grandes distances pour trouver des pâturages et de l’eau pour son bétail. Aujourd’hui, il a une nouvelle responsabilité. Il a suivi récemment une formation pour apprendre à déceler les signes avant-coureurs de la sécheresse.

Ethiopia homes in on household irrigation

Photo credit: IWMI-CGIAR

A woman tends to crops. She belongs to a self-sustaining women’s cooperative which has helped her and many others build a secure livelihood through funding small scale agricultural projects. Photo: Petterik Wiggers/Panos Pictures

Ambitious strategy aims to improve the lives of millions

Research conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has been highlighted as influential in an ambitious initiative of the Ethiopian government to boost food production and the incomes of five million farmers.

Realizing the potential of household irrigation in Ethiopia, a working strategy document from the Ministry of Agriculture and Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, outlines specific plans for agricultural development to complement the government’s vision of achieving middle-income status by 2025.

Agriculture in Ethiopia accounts for half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 85% of employment. However, around 95% of smallholder farms rely solely on rainfall. According to the report, household irrigation involving simple water-lifting and water-saving technologies, together with the cultivation of high-value horticultural crops, could more than double farmers’ incomes where implementation is possible.

The strategy proposes “27 independent systemic interventions to increase the adoption and effectiveness of household irrigation technologies and build a vibrant and self-sustaining household irrigation sector.”

These measures take into account every step of the value chain, including research and policy development, technology access and adoption, input production and distribution for the cultivation of high-value crops, on-farm production, post-harvest handling, and market links.

Furthermore, they will “take into account the continuing challenges of gender sensitivity, water resource management and sustainable impact.”

Read the full article: IWMI

Striga and drought

Photo credit: ICRISAT

Photo: A Habtamu, ILRI

Coping with Striga and drought in sorghum

Field visits of crop research work in Ethiopia (ICRISAT)

Striga and drought are the two major constraints that sorghum farmers are struggling to cope with. While there are several farmer-preferred improved varieties and hybrids, their adoption by farmers is low due to lack of resistance to these constraints. In contrast, there are many landraces and wild sorghum varieties which are resistant to Striga and also moisture stress.

The trials in Ethiopia are an attempt to introduce Striga and drought tolerant traits into high-yielding varieties and hybrids through introgression of wild sorghum and landraces with resistance/tolerance genes. The trial involves four varieties and four hybrids with farmer-preferred traits and 40 wild sorghum varieties selected from a collection of 5,100 accessions and 16 landraces from Ethiopia and Sudan. Other trials include selection for dual purpose sweet sorghum and high lysine sorghum with non-shriveling property. Available sweet sorghum varieties are not good for grain and high lysine sorghum varieties suffer from shriveling when dry and hence have low marketability.


Agricultural research and development in the drylands of Ethiopia

Photo credit: ICRISAT

(L-R) ICRISAT Principal Scientist and country representative Dr KPC Rao; ICRISAT Director General Dr David Bergvinson; EIAR Director General Dr Fentahun Mengistu; ICRISAT’s Director for Strategic Marketing & Communication Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka, and an EIAR staff at a meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: EIAR

Priority investments set for agriculture in the drylands of Ethiopia

New approaches and priority international investments have been agreed for agricultural research and development in the drylands of Ethiopia. This comes from a series of strategy meetings between the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Four areas with greatest opportunities have been identified: intensification of legumes for better human and environmental health; ; expanding  cereal production  by promoting  the industrial potential of sorghum and other millets, including tef; scaling up of watershed management for more intensive agriculture;  and new approaches to help farmers manage climate variability.

“These identified  opportunities can only be tackled through partnership at all levels on the value chain and making sure each step on this vertical chain has what it needs to act,” said Dr Fentahun Mengistu the Director General of EIAR.

Read the full article: ICRISAT

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