Recently, Ethiopia colourfully marked the 8th National Farmers and Semi-pastoralists Day at Adama town. Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn handed over awards for over 570 farmers and semi-pastoralists for transforming themselves into agricultural investors, securing a capital of over 1.5 million birr and creating jobs for a number of women and youths. The prize includes medals, trophies, tractors and saving bonds worth birr 3,000 each.
The Ethiopian Herald approached Worku Gutema, a farmer from Arsi Munisa District of Oromia State and who received a trophy. "Due to the use of_ improved seeds and practice of_ modern farming techniques, I made over 10 million birr.
"Properly implementing the supports from agricultural extension workers, I purchased trucks, mills, combiner to unleash the potential of technologies for better productivity." He further wants to open flour factory to double his income.
Among the awardees, the number of female farmers were 60. This shows that female farmers made impressive achievements in fighting poverty and became model for ensuring their families' food security. Another model female farmer, Yenesew Adugna who is from_Benshangul-Gumuz State, shared the secret behind her success and challenges to The Ethiopian Herald.
According to Yenesew, the success is attained due to strong commitment and relentless efforts in implementing modern agricultural extension system with the help of agricultural experts. She_ grows onion, green-paper, tomatoes, banana and cabbage on five hectares of land twice a year using irrigation, pumping_ water_ from Beles River. Yenesew managed to_produces 60 quintals of onion annually, and owns__a capital of over seven million birr._She also plants eucalyptus, wicker and coffee trees to make businesses._
Gashaw Chekol is a farmer from Amhara State, Bahir Dar Surrounding area, Zenzelma Kebele. He has been engaged in animal husbandry. Starting from breeding cows six years ago, he currently has 15 milky cows and secured 1.6 million birr in currency and in kind.
Gashaw created jobs for three persons and shared experiences for his neighbours who want to follow his footsteps. He further wants to open milk processing factory in order to raise his income and provide sufficient milk products to consumers.
The other farmer, Dugasa Gesifeta from West Welega Zone, secured 9.7 million birr cultivating agricultural products with modern technologies and inputs like fertilizers and chemicals. He also produces coffee and avocado in addition to breeding cattle and bees. Last meher season, he sowed teff and maize, and collected remarkable yield. Dugasa said he benefited from the continuous follow up and support of agricultural experts.
This reporter approached Chairman of Negat Farming Development Union in Gambella State, Gebre-Ab Egzi-Hagos. His union has been engaged in agricultural investment producing cotton, corn and sorghum. The union created employment opportunities for over 150 people and secured a capital of about 51 million birr. Gebre-Ab commented that as the nation owns untapped land resources, the government must provide opportunities for investors to massively be engaged in agricultural productivity.
In this regard, the government currently prioritizes citizens' benefits through integrating agriculture with industry. To make this happen, it also constructs agro-processing industries across the nation that need_intensive labour and consume productions as raw materials.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dr. Eyasu Abraha, the agriculture sector is expected to produce 500 million quintals by the end of GTP II. This will be realized if the sector could be transformed well in technology and export-led agricultural system.
Dr. Eyasu reinstated the government's works to sustainably improve the lives of the members of the society and to enable the nation benefit from the agriculture sector through expanding improved agricultural technologies to the wider farming community across the country._
He also said that modern technologies particularly focusing on soil fertility need to be implemented for better outputs. It is also learned that the number of model farmers in the country is increasing from time to time. Apart from increasing production and productivity, the government works to raise the number of model farmers to 16,776 by the end of GTP II, and to enable 50 per cent of them benefit from modern agricultural extension system.
Likewise, after handing over the awards, the Premier said that the farmers could be successful as the result of the support they received from agricultural experts, in combination with, utilizing their intuitive knowledge and new agricultural technologies.
Prime Minister urged model farmers and semi-pastoralists to share their skills and experiences for other fellow farmers. Thus, they should enable to register significant outcome in the sector in each of the next harvesting years.
He also added that the farmers are pioneer in the efforts to make the agriculture sector equipped with modern technologies and inputs. They are surely expected to play the role in raising the number of fellow model farmers. "In doing so, it is possible to modernize and develop the growth of the sector in a sustainable way."
On the other hand, the Premier said, "The agriculture sector has laid a cornerstone for the national economic growth registering average annual growth rate of 9 per cent in the last 15 consecutive years." "To make this happen, the government has aggressively worked on building the capacity of farmers and semi-pastoralists engaged in small farm lands, where 90 per cent of the production attained."
Significant results also registered in livestock protection through properly implementing water-shade activities and preparing animal feeds. This could provide typical contribution for nation's capital accumulation and its structural transformation, the Premier reinstated.
In line with the farmers' festival, an exhibition was opened in the town of Adama to promote the utilization of agricultural technologies that could help the farmers to improve productivity and modernize the sector.
On the occasion, farmers recognized that agricultural technologies is critical to improve production and productivity as well as to play important role in boosting food security.
Currently, model farmers and semi-pastoralists are registering significant improvements on crop production and productivity,_utilizing modern agricultural technologies.
Most of farmers live in rural areas, and agriculture is their most important income source. Developing the potential to increase the productivity and incomes from smallholders will be the key to achieving food security over the next years. Since climate change currently becomes a threat for developing countries and poses risks for agriculture, food, and water supplies, resilience is, therefore, a predominant concern.
It is critical to follow climate-smart agriculture, an approach that helps to guide actions needed to transform and reorient agricultural systems, to effectively support development and ensure food security in a changing climate.
In sum, even though smallholder farmers in Ethiopia are highly challenged with land degradation, low soil fertility, climate change and food insecurity, they do not sit and wait. Instead they innovate coping strategies to overcome their problems at the local level.