As agriculture is the foundation of nation's economy accounting for 43 percent of the gross domestic products, 80 percent of exports and 83 percent of the total employment, working on accessing farmers with various technology and professional seed supply is crucial, according experts in the field.
Dire Dawa Agriculture bureau extension expert Mohammad Abdullahi said that areas with short rainfall season ought to be provided with necessary agricultural technologies.
Operation manager at Fair Planet, Israeli organization working to empower the small farm holders, Dr. Shoshana Hara said that her organization is working here to transfer skills and knowledge on usage of professional seed and improve the productivity and income of small holder farmers. "We are working with Haromaya University and local administration. Together with the Dire Dawa Agriculture bureau, we also developed a unique extension methodology in which we train the trainers, experts, and development agents. We train hundreds of lead farmers every year. We visit the farmers in their own fields. We had learnt that professional seeds are increasing farmer's yields more than five times. From a small plot of high quality vegetables in only one production season, farmers can double their annual income, improve livelihood.
"We are supplying farmers with best performing varieties of seeds suitable with local agro-climatic conditions and farming practices. Access to high-quality seeds leads to economic growth and better livelihood for smallholder farmers. We are working in Oromia State and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' State (SNNPS). We are witnessing that community's livelihood is improving," she added.
Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource Dr. Eyasu Abreha for his part noted that the government has made agriculture its primary priority and the national strategy focuses on Agricultural Development Led-Industrialization (ADLI) strategy. "The concept underlying ADLI is an export led development strategy aimed at promoting economic growth in Ethiopia coordin ating agriculture and industrial development at same time. Within the framework of ADLI the government initiated Agricultural Development Programme with the objectives of ensuring food security," he added.
He further noted that the government has introduced specific policies and provided technical and institutional support to farmers, in its drive to increase food production through intensive cultivation. "These policies include fertilizer supply and distribution, improved seed supply and distribution, development of small scale irrigation, conservation, of natural resources and environmental, agricultural extension as well as marketing and price policy."
According to him, because of these policies, the country has achieved encouraging growth, double digit economic growth over a couple of decades.
"Improving agriculture and food security lies in improving the seed system since small holder farmers are facing shortage of quality seeds. Poor seed combined with climate change is exacerbating the already food shortage," Dr. Eyasu said.
The minister further said that the goal for vegetable crops in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) is to increase the average productivity of vegetables from 109 Quintals/ha in 2017to 142 Quintals/ha by the end of 2020.The total volume of produce will increase from 960 thousand tonnes at the base year to 2.3 million tonnes at the end of the plan period, according to him.
He finally said that one of the major considerations to increase production and productivity with quality is the capacity to supply healthy, resistant and productive seed and seedling.
"As I understand the Fair Planet goal is to identify suitable vegetable varieties for various agro-climatic regions of Ethiopia and thereby bridge the gap between high quality seed sources and the small holder farmers need for quality seed," the minister stated.
The writer of this piece approached Fatuma Mohammad who was from Dire Dawa and the owner of a farm land of 1.8 hectare. She said, "I used to produce maize sorghum on rain seasons and breed animals that were not productive; but I contacted Dire Dawa Agriculture bureau to assist me how I should manage my farm and met my goal. I received quality seed and how to develop well water that transformed my income now I had potatoes and paper over 900 trees of hundred sustainable plants. Recently, I have supplied my products to the market and collected over 30 thousand Birr; I had more vegetables to sell. I am also planning to produce three times per year."
A small farm land owner from Hano village in Dire Dawa Sani Musa said, "We are blessed by the packages and we are producing vegetables. Apart from securing our food security, we are supplying the market. Through using professional seeds, we are producing quality products."
According to Dire Dawa Agriculture bureau extension, more than 969 households have benefited from the packages the government facilitated. It has been working with development partners like Fair Planet to scale up the best practices in the agriculture sector.