Results of Ecofarm Action Research Activities in Three Project Areas in Ethiopia

Despite the multidimensional challenges facing dryland farmers, dryland areas have not got sufficient research and development attention, mainly due to the limited capacities of both the national and regional research system to address the challenges. Ecofarm was launched with the objectives to increase farmers’ income, to reduce farmers’ vulnerability to climate change, to improve human nutrition, and to preserve the environment. This was done through the introduction of improved technologies.

DCG Report No. 59 | Wondimu Bayu, Merga Bayissa, Kebede Manjur, Asmamaw Yeshanew, Enyew Agdo, Getachew Sime, Adugna Tolera, Tesfay Belay, Kiros Meles, Jens B. Aune and Abiye Alemu Ayele | October 2010

Until very recently, research and development efforts in the country have been biased towards high potential areas. Thus, efforts to improve the livelihood of dryland farmers calls for availing improved agricultural technologies including drought and pest resistant, high value and productive crop varieties, improved soil fertility management technologies, and improved livestock technologies. This includes identifying crop varieties that could adapt to moisture shortage, high temperature and poor soil fertility. Improved agricultural technologies which could substantially improve production and productivity in dryland areas are available, but these technologies have never been evaluated and made available to the dryland farmers in the country. Consequently, the majorities of the dryland farmers are exposed to year round food aid.

Cognizant of this reality, a 3 years ecofarm project, supported by the Drylands Coordination Group (DCG), was launched with the objectives of availing best agricultural technologies to increase farmers’ income, to reduce farmers’ vulnerability to climate change, to improve human nutrition, and to preserve the environment so that the community could become food secure.

Ecofarm is an integrated farm that aims at increasing agricultural productivity in an environmental friendly way by combining different low input technologies. These technologies are a combination of farmers’ best technologies and research developed technologies. The ecofarm approach also focuses on strengthening the interaction between crop and livestock production and development of a farm that can produce healthy food for the household. A particular emphasis is given to use of technologies that can improve resource use efficiency and preserve the environment. The technologies in the ecofarm are presented as a basket of options and farmers use the technologies that are most appropriate to them.

In Ethiopia, the ecofarm research project was initiated in March 2006 and implemented at three sites namely Adami-Tulu Jiddo Kombolcha (Oromiya Region), Hintalo Wajerat and Raya Azebo (Tigray Region), and Tach Armachiho (Amhara Region) with a joint effort between research institutes, NGOs, Offices of Agriculture and Rural Development, and farmers. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Hawassa University run the Adami-Tulu Jiddo Kombolcha (ATJK) project and Tigray Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) in collaboration with the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) and Mekelle University ran the Tigray project. The Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Noragric, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences gave technical support to the project while financial support was provided by Drylands Coordination Group.

This report is based on the three regional reports on activities and results of the Ecofarm project, and is a compilation of the combined efforts in the project. There are also fact sheets and manuals available for all the three regions.

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