Extension & Research Ethiopia’s agricultural extension system is one of the largest in the world, with over 60,000 Development Agents (DAs) working in nearly 10,000 Farmer Training Centers (FTCs) throughout the country’s nine regions. The growth in this agricultural extension system, which began with a concerted focus from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in 2002, has generated significant potential to reach smallholder farmers and pastoralists with the knowledge and technologies to sustainably improve the productivity of their small farms.
Despite its rapid growth and potential, the agricultural extension system has faced a number of important challenges. In order to improve its effectiveness and better respond to the needs of the populations it serves, the ATA is committed to helping remove systemic bottlenecks, while exploring innovations that will improve the extension system overall.
Continuing in the right direction
The ATA’s Extension & Research team aims to enhance the adoption of productivity increasing, market-oriented, agroecologically appropriate, and financially sustainable technologies, while introducing services that better align the needs of smallholder farmers and cooperatives with market opportunities and research institutions.
Beginning in 2009, the MoA led an important study to examine bottlenecks in the agricultural extension system. A range of important recommendations emerged from the Ministry’s work, including new opportunities to make the extension system more effective. Based on this and other studies, as well as a wide range of consultations with key partners, the ATA is working towards helping the Ministry and other invested parties to increase extension capacity and incentivize DAs, in a system that will be underlined by strong monitoring and performance evaluation.
Training & Facilities – The focus to improve Development Agent capacity includes, among other efforts, a planned revision of the DA curriculum, in addition to improvements in on-the-job training through ATVETs and Woreda-level support centers. The ATA is also working towards improving the capacity of Farmer Training Centers. The goal is to make the FTCs true centers for excellence, innovations and best practices, offering farmers access to knowledge, information, inputs (like seed and fertilizer), and credits.
New & Improved Research – The ATA is also exploring opportunities with the Federal and Regional Research Institutes, Higher Learning Institutions, and other key researchers to create a coordinated, demand-driven and innovative research system that will generate appropriate and user-friendly technologies in a resource efficient manner. To facilitate this, the ATA will focus on capacity building and coordination, while facilitating the alignment of research needs to the short-term and long-term requirements of various stakeholders.
Ethiopia’s National Agricultural Research System (NARS) currently has strong potential to develop a robust system, which will release new technologies and undertake adaptive breeding to respond to the needs of smallholder farmers. In addition, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) has also made several important strides over the past decade with varietal releases, agronomic packages, and breeding for traits to withstand biotic and abiotic stresses. Over the next year, the ATA will begin to discuss areas where it can support its partners in identifying research targets.
Overall, the ATA has designed its Extension & Research approach to further integrate and strengthen linkages between these two national systems in order to have greater impact in achieving food security and reducing poverty.
Extensions /Research Resources : For a list of publications and links relating to Extensions /Research click here.