Sowing prosperity in Ethiopia

Published on
June 15, 2018

Ethiopian farmers are harvesting the fruits of the long-running programmes Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) and CASCAPE. Incomes have improved, houses have been built and kids are going to school. This reports WUR-magazine Resource in this weeks’ issue. A reporter visited the country.

The goal of Integrated Seed Sector Development in Ethiopia is to improve men and women smallholder farmers’ access to and use of quality seed of new, improved and farmer-preferred varieties. Quality seed is essential for increasing agricultural productivity. The ISSD-programme also organized farmers’ cooperatives in Ethiopia, which started to look at seed as a business and a source of income. Direct seed marketing by farmers is permitted in many municipalities, boosting farmers’ incomes, Resource reports.


CASCAPE aims at capacity building for scaling up of evidence based best practices in agricultural production. It works with five Ethiopian universities on on-farm validation of agricultural innovations for high potential woredas (districts). The programme works on the basis of an assessment of problems identified by farmers. Resource visited a farmers’ cooperative in the mountain village of Guguma, taking part in a project related to the supply chain for beer production. The strong point of the project, states the CASCAPE cluster manager in the region in Resource, is that it both improved the harvest and organized the marketing of the barley. 

Increased productivity

The ISSD and CASCAPE programmes are both part of BENEFIT, the Bilateral Ethiopian Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade Partnership, coordinated by Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation. It aims to improve sustainable food, income and trade among rural households in Ethiopia and started in 2016. In 2016 and 2017, a total of over 2,6 million male and female farmers have been able to increase their productivity for example. In the same period, 1,3 million farmers have gained increased access to markets.

Recently, a fifth programme has been added to the BENEFIT umbrella: REALISE, with a budget of eight million euros for four years. REALISE aims at strengthening agriculture in food-insecure areas in Ethiopia, building on ISSD and CASCAPE experiences. The programme is funded by the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, that is happy about the existing programmes and their results.