In January, 2009, H.E. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi asked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch a work program that would support the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) in providing strategic input and technical assistance in several key areas of the country’s agricultural sector.  Since then, over 100 collaborators have generously participated in the process, from smallholder farmers and rural Development Agents to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the International Livestock Research Institute, the International Water Management Institute , the Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, and McKinsey & Co.


The project aims to improve agricultural incomes by increasing productivity, ensuring self-sufficiency in food production, strengthening farmer organizations, increasing production of key crops, conserving natural resources, and increasing women’s participation in Ethiopia’s agricultural and economic development. The project utilizes three types of activities to achieve these goals:

1.       Input markets diagnostics: Analysis of Ethiopia’s current seed, irrigation and soil fertility system; recommendations to improve quality and usage of improved seed varieties, including hybrid seeds and commercially produced seeds, through capacity-building and the establishment of a private seed sector; recommendations to increase the amount of land under sustainable forms of irrigation and: recommendation to improve soil fertility and fertilizer application that take into account Ethiopia’s varied agro-ecologies, soil, and climate

2.       Output markets diagnostics:  Analysis of staple crop and livestock value chains, including maize, pulses and cattle; recommendations to improve the impact of the value chains on Ethiopia’s rural and urban poor through a strengthened private sector, and improvements to farm management practices and marketing.

3.       Cross cutting diagnostics: Reviews of the strengths and constraints of Ethiopia’s current agricultural extension and agricultural finance system; recommendations to scale up and improve these programs through training workshops, stakeholder meetings, and improved technical and vocational education.


2 Responses to About

  1. Samik S. Das says:

    The updloaded diagonistic reports on Ethiopian Agriculture are path breaking knowledge products.

  2. Teferi Abate says:

    Thank you for sharing these diagnostic reports, identifying a wide variety of problems and suggesting plausible solutions relating to EPRDF’s admirable support to smallholder farmers. This work itself is a good evidence of the EPRDF government’s continued commitment to doing the right thing. That being said, I was hoping that a diagnostic report of this level would go beyond technical and managerial issues to also cover long standing political and cultural problems.
    I am an Ethiopian anthropologist who had the opportunity to observe household and community level responses to the extension program from its official launching in 1995 to 2005 while conducting ethnographic fieldwork in two highland Ethiopian communities. In these encounters, one disquieting problem I noted was the systematic entanglement of program objectives with the self interest and political aspiration of prominent farmer cadres (i.e., village-level functionaries of EPRDF) and overzealous party supporters. These farmers were typically “the first” among villagers to “volunteer” for adopting the cereal packages, but they did so mainly to improve their chances for political careers as party-appointed local officials and/or party-nominated elected councilors. While vying for the attention of party bosses at the district and higher ups, these local agents often ended up locally overturning stated extension goals. As a consequence, farmer education became political mobilization, recommended expert ideas turned turned into dogmas, and voluntary participation was equated with urgent involvement. All this has the deleterious effect of inducing fear, insecurity and suspicion among farmers. Ironically, this micro-level political process were also reinforced culturally embedded concepts of wealth, power and success which rewarded political skills (e.g. in the form of loyalty and acquiescence to superiors, winning court cases, speaking skills, etc) at the expense of success through hard work and a life time of thrive in truly economic pursuits (farming, commerce, etc). I hope you will consider the input of anthropologists in future diagnostic works. Thank you for the opportunity to post this comment.

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