On December 8 the Amhara Agricultural Forum 2016 (AAF ’16) was held, jointly organized by SMIS, AgroBIG and One Acre Fund. And what a success it was!

The day started with a warm welcome by SMIS and the embassies of Canada and the Netherlands, followed by parallel sessions in the two conference rooms. There were 18 presentations in total, four poster presentations and two workshops. During lunch we not only enjoyed a wonderful buffet but the pleasure of some beautiful Amharic live cultural music and dancing. After the third parallel session we closed the day with a network session with a nice campfire and some beers outside the Jacaranda hotel.

PRESENTATIONS IN THE BIG ROOM: In the big conference room we learned more about agricultural extension and value chains. During the first session the topic was agricultural extension: Teff row planters (One Acre Fund), the value chain from grass to glass and the importance of calf feeding in the dairy sector (SNV-EDGET) and the importance and impact of educating farmers via video (DigitalGREEN). During the second value chain session Jan Michielsen from the KOGA-VEG farm inspired us to create economic opportunities for Ethiopian smallholder farmers by including them in the export of vegetables (KogaVeg / Fair-Fruit). We learned that the development of a formal community based seed system can strengthen the capacity of seed grower farmers (AgroBIG). Also, when farmers cooperatives are transformed into business orientated unions their income as well as their output increase significantly (SNV). During the third session we learned that by recognizing, supporting and training nodal farmers the transaction cost of the farmers can be greatly reduced, their income improved and the Seed Supply System can be strengthened (ISSD). MEDA thought us that EMERTA means to leap to great heights and that is exactly what they are doing as Ethiopians Motivating Enterprises to Rise in Trade and Agri-business. Finally, ACDI / VODA showed us how they improve livestock/poultry management practices regarding feed.

Here you can find the PHOTOS of the Forum.

PRESENTATION IN THE SMALL ROOM: In the small conference room we learned more about irrigation and participation. IWMI thought us all about introducing wetting front detectors to small scale irrigators for on-farm water management. The Bahir Dar Institute of Technology shared their research on the recharge of shallow groundwater and its potential for smallholder dry period irrigation in the Lake Tana basin. The Amhara Bureau of Agriculture shared their experiences on small masonry dams for surface water harvesting. From the SMIS project we learned more on how to include farmers in the design, operation and maintenance of new small scale irrigation schemes with the Participatory, Irrigation, Development and Management (PIDM) methodology. We also learned how to empower women during the latter methodology by giving them the opportunity and the voice they need to be heard and effectively participate. ORDA shared their experience on how to improve food security through their two models: Village Economic and Social Groups (VESA’s) and Farmers’ Economic and Marketing Groups (FEMA’s). During the last parallel session we learned about how to harvest water with roads and finally the last presentation from SMIS was about how to grow irrigated watermelons, and organize field demonstrations and farmers field days.

Please find the PRESENTATIONS below.

NEXT STEP: With this we would like to thank all presenters, facilitators and staff that helped organise this Forum. The aim of the Forum was to improve collaboration between organisations working in agriculture in Amhara, and I think we made a great first step in doing so with this first edition of the AAF’16. Jan Michielsen from KOGA Veg farm already found four potential collaborations: with students from Bahir Dar University for research on his farm, with SMIS for supporting drip irrigation for outgrowers and with DigitalGREEN to make an educational video for agricultural extension for small scale farmers. I am sure there are other examples of cooperation that were made possible by the exchange of ideas and the networking last December 8. We are planning of setting up the Amhara Agricultural Forum Committee 2017. If you are interested in joining this committee this, please contact SMIS Amhara: Info-Amhara@Smis-Ethiopia.org.

Presentations in the big conference room:
B. Welcome!
B1. One Acre Fund – Developing Appropriate Technology for Smallholders
B2. SNV – Improving Extension services
B4. Koga Veg Ethiopia – smallholders inclusion
B5. AgroBIG Onion Marketing – The case of a seed sytem development
B6. SNV Transforming Cooperatives and their members into business oriented
B7. ISSD – Nodal farmers, recognizing as a seed producer in the informal seed system
B8. MEDA – Ethiopians Motivating Enterprises to Rise in Trade and Agri-business

Presentations in the small conference room:
S1. IWMI – Introducing wetting front detectors to small scale irrigators for on-farm water management
S2. Bahir Dar institute of Technology – Shallow ground water recharge and its potential for dry period irrigation in lake tana bassin
S5. SMIS – How to empower women on grass-root level
S6. ORDA – A succesfull project that beats dependency syndrome
S7. Meta Meta – Roads for water harvesting B. Workshop