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Agricultural Knowledge Development

The program will build a new generation of agronomists, equipped with hands on experience and social mindset of agricultural professionalism

Photo of Tomer Malchi
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

CultivAid LTD.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

El Shadai Charities, local small NGO Tigray Development Association, Local Large NGO Private farmers (medium scale), small company Small land holding farmers,

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.cultivaid.org

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Rehovot

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Israel

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Southern Tigray Zone is one of 6 zones in Tigray. It covers an area of almost 20,000 km^2 and has a population around 1.5 million.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Ethiopia

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

CultivAid has been operating in Ethiopia, in Mekelle for the past 6 years, just north of the Southern Zone.  The southern zone in Tigray has a high potential for agricultural production.  Improving the zone could enable food and nutritional security for the entire region. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

According a baseline survey, conducted by the Ethiopian Ministry of health in 2018, around 50% of children in southern Tigray are stunted and almost 1/3 of the children are underweight. On average, 1 in 5 households in the zone are severely food insecure. The area has low production and consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as animal source foods. Consumption of micronutrient-rich foods is extremely low. The vast majority of the populations in the zone are farmers who are cultivating rain fed crops or raising animals.

The 2018 baseline survey stresses two main reason for the lack of development in the region.  The first lies in the ineffectiveness of the extension services for both health and agriculture. The second reason is a general lack of infrastructure and access to technologies.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

1500000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

The area of the Southern Tigray Zone and the Tekeze Basin of which the area is apart, face severe problems of food security and nutrition that will only get worse if food production and diversification is not improved. 

The inhabitants of the zone are dependent on rain-fed agriculture and animal husbandry, with the vast majority of the population are small holder farmers. The main agricultural crops are

  • cereals (barley, wheat, teff, sorghum, maize and finger millet),
  • legumes (beans, peas and chickpeas),
  • oil seeds (sesame and sunflower)
  • Limited vegetables (cabbage, onion, tomato, pepper and lettuce)
  • Limited fruits (papaya, avocado and banana)

Crop productivity and production is low due to the low and intermittent rainfall, a lack of access to agricultural inputs, poor market linkages, a lack of knowledge, environmental degratation and a lack of access to financial services. Irrigation practice is very limited due to scarcity of water and the limited capacity to lift water from deep and gorgy streams and rivers. 

The Agricultural Sector is the backbone and foundation of Ethiopian society and the national economy. Agriculture accounts for almost 50% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product and over 80% percent of exports.  Agriculture plays a central role in the national economy and specifically in the southern zone of Tigray where current issues of food security, health and income generation need to be addressed immediately. 

Looking into the future, large population growth, urbanization and changing weather patterns require an improvement in agricultural productivity and a dire need to modernize the agricultural sector.  Technologies are required to help solve the various problems faced in the region. Solutions related to irrigation technology, protected agriculture, seedling development, postharvest solutions and mechanization need to be implemented and enhanced.

The failure to solve these issues in the next few years will result in a population where the majority of people are stunted.  The ability to face up to challenges of production will only become more challenging with each passing year and hence there is an urgency to enable productive, efficient agricultural production. The transformation of the agricultural sector will enable a more skilled workforce to manage and implement new technologies and establish a mechanized, modernized agricultural sector.  

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

New technologies must be accompanied by proper guidance and knowledge-building efforts in order to increase the capacity of the agricultural infrastructure and to develop the local professionals. Skilled professionals are required to install, operate and maintain these technologies. Practical hands-on trainings that are on-going need to be established in order to create the human capacity to ensure functionality.

The program aims to develop a internship program for young, recent graduates of agricultural programs.  The internship will place Israeli agronomists together with Ethiopian agronomists in a 6-12 month program which emphasized learning by doing.  The program will be capacity of agricultural professionals and enable implementation and scale up of irrigation and protected agriculture technologies along with improved agronomic

The establishment of skilled agronomist will enable transformation of the agricultural sector. The strengthening of the agricultural knowledge infrastructure will increase food production, generate income, create jobs and promote investment.  These changes will affect the entire food system.  There will be additional jobs throughout the supply chains and added value through agro-processing as a result of higher crop availability. 

The increase supply, diversification of production, reduced dependency on climate and improved management will result in improved nutrition and food security throughout the region.  The greater access to food would enable uplifting of society in various aspects, reduce poverty and create opportunities. 

Furthermore, the development of skilled agronomists aims to have an influence over the perception and image of agriculture.  The establishment of skilled professionals aims to strengthen the viewpoint that agriculture is a science with high income potential.  This image of strong young agronomists aims to portray the future and enforce a vision of agriculture that is synonymous with progress. 

techniques.

Through the development of a modern Ethiopian agronomists the challenges of agricultural production will be addressed by a local skilled workforce that can continually find new solutions and develop innovative technologies to addressed these challenges.

The program will develop the human resources to implement technologies while creating a community of agronomists, a community of practice.  This community be actors of change throughout the agricultural ecosystem, taking up positions in the public and private sector.  The ability of experienced agronomists will ensure that programs through the zone will be implemented correctly.  Technical support will be provided and graduates of the program will support the development of new

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The establishment of skilled agronomist will enable transformation of the agricultural sector. The strengthening of the agricultural knowledge infrastructure will increase food production, generate income, create jobs and promote investment.  These changes will affect the entire food system.  There will be additional jobs throughout the supply chains and added value through agro-processing as a result of higher crop availability. 

The increase supply, diversification of production, reduced dependency on climate and improved management will result in improved nutrition and food security throughout the region.  The greater access to food would enable uplifting of society in various aspects, reduce poverty and create opportunities. 

Furthermore, the development of skilled agronomists aims to have an influence over the perception and image of agriculture.  The establishment of skilled professionals aims to strengthen the viewpoint that agriculture is a science with high income potential.  This image of strong young agronomists aims to portray the future and enforce a vision of agriculture that is synonymous with progress. Returning to the land, understanding the connections to the environment, the importance of management of our ecosystem are some of the mental attributes associated with the development of a new skilled agronomist.  

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Throughout the world there are endless failed projects, millions of dollars invested into programs that do not work. A critical issues facing decades of development activity is the need for long term functionality of both NGO and government program.  From our perspective a major cause of poor implementation and failed operation is a lack of skilled local professionals. Food systems require trained experts who can continually address challenges as they arise.  Trained experts need to be continually developed and training programs need to be in-depth and on-going. CultivAid’s agricultural training program aims to develop an army of agronomists who are able to provide field level and systems wide solutions and to support local and regional decision-making, supporting the agricultural development of the local population. 

The program will establish a training and demonstration farm in the southern Tigray zone that will conduct short term and long term courses. The heart of the program will be the establishment of an agricultural internship program. The Internship is a unique program that places young Ethiopian agronomists on site to work side by side with their Israeli counterpart.  Each intern is on site for 6-12 months. The focus of the program is to gain practical hands on experience while adapting to the work habits and practices required for operations of modern agricultural technologies and practices. The various trainings will target both local farming communities as well as regional experts and extension workers.  

The Ethiopian interns will be undergo trainings in a range of subjects, enabling them to operate various technologies and methods and also the ability to train others in what they have learned.  The program will operate trainings of students throughout the season which will be combined with field work, supervisory duties and management.  The site will produce 10 graduates of the internship program per year who will support pilot and scaling up programs of new technologies to the Southern Tigray zone. The staff of interns and graduates will serve as an extension service provider to small farmers, medium scale farms, government programs and various development programs of international NGOs. 

Additional activities at the Farm will target development agents, professionals, experts and decision makers in order to enable them to understand and implement the various technologies and methods. These activities include:

Open days will be organized to demonstrate the agricultural technologies being implemented to the wider community.

Farmer days will be organized to introduce farmers to the new technologies and methods being implemented, provide demonstrations and promote demand.

Professional trainings will be conducted on a monthly basis to provide knowledge development for experts. The sites will provide practical hands on trainings for development agents, agronomists, professionals, private sector, NGOS, government workers and farmers.   

The trained agronomists will be placed to work with partner organizations in order to further demonstrate the various technologies and skilled capacity while scaling up successful implementation.  These partner organizations include the Tigray Development Association and ElShadai Charities, both of these partners are currently scaling up boarding schools that are economically self-sufficient through agricultural programs. CultivAid has worked with both partners building the technical capacity of their farms and thus demonstrated the ability to establish profitable agricultural businesses which in turn finance development interventions.  The partner organizations provide greater access to education and will work to ensure nutritious food is supplied to students and to the region, changing dietary habits.

The Tigray Development Association is planning to establish 12 new boarding schools and desires an agricultural farm for each.  The schools will require trained professionals.  Furthermore, the farms at each school will serve as a demonstration and training site.  The professionals at the farm will provide a mechanism for spreading knowledge and technologies.  Elshadai Charities has several children’s villages and youth development projects. The upgrading of these villages to having full functioning modernized farms will support the board schools’ economic ability. The program will support the growth of each school, while providing the highest possible services to the students and the surrounding community. The farms will serve as a training ground for youth skills training and furthering the development program and its reach to local communities.  

Environment

The world of agriculture cannot ignore the environment.  The technologies that improve production should be conscience of the environment and implement technologies that reduce any negative impact on the environment, such as reduced use of chemicals, water conservation, reduced waste etc.  In addition, agriculture must examine how to improve production while providing solutions to challenges facing the local environment, for example problems of soil erosion through fruit tree establishment or compost production for improved waste management. 

Diets

The demonstration site is an entry point for introducing new nutritious crops to the region.  There is a need for a broad-based education campaign that can raise awareness to the importance of dietary diversity. Eating a variety of foods provides the essential nutrients and phytochemicals that support a range of nutritional benefits. The agronomists trained through the program will spread knowledge regarding both how to grow crops and the nutritional benefit of crops. They will promote the concept of "Eating a Rainbow", which promotes dietary diversity and thus greater intake of nutrients and healthy foods that are required to combat stunting and malnutrition.

Economics

Market development is essential for economic growth.  Through the demonstration sites logistics will be supported to ensure access to inputs and to provide mechanisms for marketing of goods. The skilled experts will be hired by private farms, supply chain businesses and by the public sector. The experts will build the local capacity and enable knowledge diffusion to surrounding farmers. The experts developed will be a mechanism for adaptation of technologies and economic prosperity.

Culture

A critical component of the training programs relates to the culture of agriculture.  In many countries agriculture is seen as backwards and the people working the field are at the bottom of society’s status and economic scale.  Through the program, there will be an emphasis on the status of farmers, who will be portrayed and defined as the future.  The adaptation of technologies will promote a science-based farmer with modern technologies and high capacity.  The pride of agriculture will be promoted, and the image of farmers will be associated with modernization, progress and technology. 

The program will promote a working culture required for intensive agriculture.  The operation of intensive agriculture requires physical work guided by understanding of the science of agriculture.  The combination of these two traits will promote the required working habits for intensive vegetable production. 

 

Technology

The adaptation of technologies requires knowledge.  Through the program, the required capacity will be available for scaling up various agriculture, water and energy technologies. The hands-on experience attained through the program will provide experts for technology transfer as well as for the development of new technologies locally. The aim of the program is to establish a knowledge based agricultural sector providing support to technology adaptation and ensuring long term functionality.

Policy

The field results, higher yields, greater income and skilled experts will need to be strengthened and scaled up with the support of government policy. Policy needs to create a supportive ecosystem to promote investment and adaptation of technologies.  The demonstration sites and skilled experts will promote a model of implementation and support government

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Thank you so much for the Food Extension Initiative.

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