February 2010

Grant for Agricultural Extension Services in Ethiopia

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  farmers
   
  Copyright: WFP/Mario Di Bari

As part of its ‘Building Climate Change Resilience’ initiative, the Rockefeller Foundation has provided a grant of US$ 323,000 for the training of trainers on weather and climate information and products for the Agricultural Extension Services in Ethiopia. WMO’s Agricultural Meteorology Programme of the Climate Prediction and Adaptation (CLPA) Branch of Climate and Water Department will implement the project.

The objective of the project is to support the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia to engage with and provide training to agricultural extension agents and agricultural experts and to assist them in providing better practical knowledge of agro-meteorological services and applications to farmers. Such training will improve farming practices and increase or secure agricultural production.

Ethiopia has great agricultural potential given its vast areas of fertile land, diverse climate, generally adequate rainfall and large labour pool.  Agriculture is the most important sector in the  Ethiopian economy, accounting for over 40 per cent of GDP and 80 per cent of exports, and engaging 80 per cent of the labour force. Many other economic activities depend on agriculture, including marketing, processing and export of agricultural products. Around 75 per cent of Ethiopia’s 74 million people are dependent on agriculture, which is almost entirely rain-fed and small-scale. Coffee and, more recently flowers, are the only major commercial crops.   Ethiopia is Africa's second biggest maize producer. Its livestock population is believed to be the largest in Africa,  accounting for 10.6 per cent of Ethiopia's export income in 2006/2007 - with leather and leather products making up 7.5 per cent and live animals 3.1 per cent.  Both farmers and pastoralists are highly dependent on the climate for their livelihoods.

Agricultural extension personnel play an important intermediary role between developers of agro-meteorological products (National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, universities, research institutes) and farmers. A key reason for low-level use of agrometeorological services in African countries is often the lack of effective liaison between the institutions providing information and relevant advisories and those responsible for their transfer to the farming community.  This challenge is compounded by insufficient education and training of the user community, including the farm advisory services that provide specific agricultural advice from general weather information.

It is against this background that WMO proposed a program of Training of Trainers through Roving Seminars in Ethiopia for the Agricultural Extension Services in different regions of Ethiopia to familiarize the Services in use of weather and climate information and their applications in operational farm management.  Seminars will be held in each chosen district that will bring together the agricultural extension workers and local farmers to give the extension officers “hands on experience” in transferring weather and climate information to the community.

Towards the end of the project phase, a survey of other delivery channels to disseminate climate information for small-holder farmers in Ethiopia, such as SMS messages through cell phones, local radio, etc., will be undertaken, with the preliminary results published in the final project report.

About the Rockefeller Foundation’s Initiative:

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Building Climate Change Resilience initiative seeks to help poor and vulnerable communities prepare for, withstand and recover from the devastating effects of climate change. This work is targeted towards insuring that resilience strategies are a more integral part of agricultural research, development, planning and implementation in African countries, strengthening, in turn, the resilience of smallholder farmers to climate variability and change and making current investments in improving African agriculture more successful. The Foundation is investing in efforts including: helping agricultural research and development organizations in Africa integrate climate change resilience measures into their practice; testing interventions that could be implemented more extensively in African countries to build resilience to climate variability and change; and developing the necessary scientific evidence base and policy environment to promote agricultural resilience-building in Africa.

 

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