Humidtropics has been implementing action research activities in Ethiopia since 2014 through local innovation platforms established in two field sites in Jeldu and Diga districts in the western part of the country.
These local innovation platforms were originally established in 2011 by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as part of the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) project, which implemented natural resource management interventions for three years in these field sites. At the end of the project, livestock feed interventions for increased feed availability and improved natural resource management to reverse land degradation emerged as successful interventions of the NBDC.
In 2014, Humidtropics continued working with the existing local innovation platforms on sustainable intensification activities and tested various crop-livestock system improvement options at both field sites. Soil and water conservation is central for Humidtropics activities in Ethiopia to improve productivity of food and feed.
Humidtropics recently created an Action Site Research for Development (R4D) Platform, consisting of members from national and regional government line ministries, national research institutes, CGIAR Centers, private sector, local NGOs, government administrators in the field sites and donors.
On 5 February 2015, the Humidtropics Ethiopia Action Site R4D Platform was launched at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa. The Platform is designed to oversee, and link with, the local level innovation platforms at field sites for co-learning and guiding Humidtropics integrated research for development activities in the country.
The Platform’s management consists of an elected chairperson from Ambo University, a vice chairperson from ILRI and an Action Site Facilitator from Oromia Agricultural Research Institute (OARI) who will support and facilitate meetings and field visits. Steering committee members were also elected to support technical activities in-between the meetings. Meetings of the general assembly will be held twice a year.
During the inaugural R4D Platform meeting, draft terms of reference were presented, discussed and endorsed by members. Humidtropics representatives from CGIAR Centers also presented the activities they accomplished in 2014 and shared their proposals for 2015. The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International, which have joined the Ethiopian program this year, also presented their proposals for 2015.
Other CGIAR Centers implementing Humidtropics in Ethiopia include the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the International Potato Center (CIP). At the meeting, IMWI presented ideas for improving soil and water conservation in crop-livestock production systems through local innovation platforms, while ILRI gave a proposal on innovation platform facilitation and livestock feed development. CIP, in collaboration with ILRI and local innovation platforms, shared experiences from ongoing activities in integrating market-oriented livestock feed interventions with natural resource management and crop intensification, as well as information on a project that is increasing farmers’ access to market for potato. The Oromia Agricultural Research Institute shared plans to introduce and integrate quality protein maize and new teff varieties in one of the field sites to increase productivity and improve nutrition.
Interventions to improve livestock feed for the dry season by integrating existing local feeds with silage from sweet potato vines and inedible roots formed a key element of the proposed Humidtropics activities for 2015. Different projects including N2Africa, Legume CHOICE and Africa RISING will be mapped into this platform to share findings and best experiences.
During the event, representatives from ICRAF presented the new Humidtropics funding mechanism that will allow innovation platform members to apply for additional funds to carry out new research-for-development projects. Steering committee members and representatives from the CGIAR Centers proceeded to draft a new project proposal entitled “Sustainable intensification of mixed tree-crop-livestock systems in Western Ethiopia”. This project was jointly developed based on ideas collected from field site innovation platform meetings. The aim of the research proposed is to assess the synergies and trade-offs between different intervention options in order to present options for intensification pathways that optimize improvements in livelihoods, stewardship of the natural environment and enhanced nutritional status of farming families in Ethiopia.
To conclude the inaugural meeting, R4D Platform partners renewed their commitment to collaborate towards sustainable intensification options in Ethiopia.
You can find more information about the R4D Platform inaugural meeting and the new research-for-development project proposal in the full report.
You can also read our blog on Humidtropics’ research activities in the Jeldu district entitled Drivers of Change for Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia, and our blog on gender relations and technology in the Diga district entitled Gender and Technology at the Crossroads in Ethiopia.
Blog by Zelalem Lema, Research Officer, Innovation Systems, ILRI and Dorine Odongo, Communications Specialist, ILRI. Blog edited by Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics.
You can read the original version of this blog published on the ILRI News Blog.