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Government official says CIMMYT project could improve nutrition in Ethiopia

By Seifu Mahifere/CIMMYT

A senior official with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), which plays a leading role in influencing agricultural technology development in the country, said CIMMYT’S Nutritious Maize for Ethiopia (NuME) project could have a profound impact in reducing under-nutrition in Ethiopia.

The commendation came during NuME’s annual project performance and review (APPR) meeting on 24 March in Addis Ababa. Endale Gebre, deputy crops research director of EIAR, noted that maize production in Ethiopia has been steadily increasing in the last two decades with a four-fold increase in total production and a 2.5-fold increase in area.

Attendees at the NuME annual project performance and review meeting discussed the project’s future. Photos: Seifu Mahifere

As the importance of maize in the diets of the poor grows, more people will be put at risk of protein deficiency because maize is deficient in essential amino acids, he said. NuME is implemented by CIMMYT in Ethiopia and funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. It is designed to help improve the food and nutritional security of Ethiopia’s rural population, especially women and children, through the adoption of quality protein maize (QPM) varieties and crop management practices that increase farm productivity. Lysine and tryptophan deficiency are of concern, especially in areas like the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), where maize constitutes more than 60 percent of dietary protein and people have low access to other protein sources.

NuME is bringing QPM to rural maize producers in the Ethiopian maize belt and beyond. “As a multifaceted project with components that include the widespread promotion and adoption of QPM technologies and QPM seed production, it is strategically important that NuME address this nutritional gap,” Endale said, adding NuME could have a “profound impact” in improving nutritional status in the project area and beyond. Endale also noted that NuME performance is improving from year to year and its partners should work even harder to enable the project to influence the whole maize value chain in the country.

The APPR is a routine exercise that compares outputs and results registered by the project against annual work plan targets developed at the outset. It includes an analysis of major activities against targets proposed, major challenges faced, lessons learned and recommendations for future improvement. The forum serves as a platform to bring partner institutions together to develop work plans for the coming year in a participatory approach to be approved by the project steering committee.

NuME partner institution representatives and NuME staff reported on key project outputs like QPM field food demonstrations and field days undertaken by partners like Sasakawa Global 2000 and regional agricultural research centers. The meeting also included deliberations on breeding and agronomy research, QPM seed production, QPM media material development and radio broadcasting activities and the status of the NuME gender action plan. Thematic working groups examined QPM dissemination, utilization and nutritional impact, as well as breeding and seed production and distribution and agronomy. Detailed action plans were consolidated into thse 2014/15 NuME annual work plan, which was evaluated by the NuME project implementation committee and forwarded to the project steering committee for final approval.