It is not often that conservation agriculture, the subject of numerous scholarly articles and dissertations, gets wide coverage from the mainstream media in Ethiopia.
It is thus remarkable that the media gave particular attention to a training event held last June at the ILRI-Ethiopia campus and organized by CIMMYT through the USAID-funded “Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation” project (Africa RISING project, www.africa-rising.net). A focus of CIMMYT’s work in Ethiopia and other countries of East and Southern Africa is to improve smallholder farming practices by exploiting the synergies between small-scale mechanization and conservation agriculture.
Lead trainer Joseph M. Mutua shows service providers how to drive a two-wheel tractor. Photo: Frédéric Baudron/CIMMYT
Reporters representing two major daily English language newspapers in Addis Ababa attended and wrote extensively about the five-day training event that the project organized for service providers from different states in Ethiopia with the objective of promoting farm mechanization and sustainable productivity.
The Ethiopian Herald gave the most coverage through a lengthy article titled “Advancing farming systems improve food, nutrition and income security.” The article describes the advantages of increasing smallholder production through the adoption of modern agricultural practices and proven new technologies such as the two-wheel tractor, which can help increase the efficiency of seed and fertilizer use, reduce labor, time and post-harvest losses, and improve grain quality and farm income. The article also recommends that “all stakeholders should identify the challenges of promoting mechanization and deliver appropriate technologies to farmers.”
The Monitor gave the story a prominent place under the headline “Two-wheel tractors to improve agriculture in Ethiopian highlands.” The story in particular mentions the role of the project in light of a draft national strategy developed in 2014 by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency with the aim of increasing farm power available to Ethiopian farmers by as much as 10-fold by 2025.
The article also reports the testimonies of participating service providers on the suitability and ease of using two-wheel tractor technologies, vis-à-vis traditional tools. One farmer noted, “Compared with using traditional tools like oxen power… this machine will help increase my income while also saving my time.”
At the end, the article quotes FACASI project coordinator Frédéric Baudron, who noted that the trainees are expected to share their knowledge of two-wheel tractor technologies with their local communities to achieve more impact and productivity in the future.
It is worth noting that CIMMYT employs a range of methodologies to accelerate delivery of two-wheel tractor-based technologies to smallholders in selected sites in SSA countries, including: on-station and on-farm participatory evaluation of two-wheel tractor technologies; business model development; market and policy analysis; and establishment of a permanent knowledge platform as well as a common monitoring and evaluation system that includes gender-disaggregated data.