Speech by Edmalem Shetaye on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture at the opening of the IPMS experience-sharing workshop held at ILRI on 2 and 3 June 2011.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a privilege and honor to welcome you all to this workshop entitles ‘Market-oriented smallholder Development in support of the Growth and Transformation Plan’ of the Government of Ethiopia. The workshop is jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Improving Productivity and Market success (IPMS) project implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
Some 10 years ago the Ministry of Rural Development had started preparing a new plan for agricultural development, which resulted in PASDEP i.e. “Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty – 2005/06-2009/10”. This plan expressed a development direction of complimenting the natural resource management and food security focused with market oriented agricultural production. It also advocated a more gender balanced development through increased participation by women as well as the increased involvement of agri-businesses i.e. co-operatives and private companies, in the sale of inputs and the processing and marketing of outputs.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) expressed interest in funding a pilot program to test market oriented development not only for the benefit of the Ethiopian farmers, but also as a means to explore options that go beyond traditional support to food in secure households, focusing on the untapped production and market opportunities.
As you may well be aware, in response the PASDEP policy, the Government has taken several initiatives to support a more market oriented agricultural development. The developments of road, electricity and telecommunication infrastructure, which are pre-requisites for market oriented development, were given high priority. The establishment of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECEX) is another initiative which aimed at developing a more efficient and transparent marketing system for key commodities such as coffee, pulses and cereals. The government has also put high priority on the development of an appropriate seed supply for pulses and cereals since this have proven a major bottle neck for the development of these commodities. Involvement of the private sectors has also received priority, specially through the establishment of association such as the horticulture association, etc.
In order to revitalize the extension system, the government established a ATVETS in various parts of the country to train qualified development agents. Over 50,000 development agents have now been deployed at Farmer Training Centres (FTCs) to provide knowledge and capacity building activities to millions of farmers. At a higher level, the government has invested extensively in the establishment of new universities and in strengthening the existing once.
As a result of the new policy direction, the IPMS project was developed to pilot and test a “participatory market-oriented commodity value chain development approach”, in four regional states, i.e. Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and the SNNPR using ten pilot learning woredas as testing grounds. The approach is based on the premises that technology up-take is significantly influenced by the profitability of production, and that production is driven by market demands for specific commodities which require interventions in input supply and services, and output market support to smallholders. The approach is participatory in that it involves farmers, and other value chain actors and associated service providers in diagnosis and design, planning and implementation of the interventions through formal and informal linkages. The project pilot tested the approach in development of marketable crop and livestock commodities as identified by the value chain stakeholders. Attention was paid to the role of women and the potential impact on the environment.
A key component of the implementation strategy was the use of knowledge by the implementers as well as capacity development of service provider and value chain actors, especially women. To accommodate the better use of knowledge the project developed a knowledge management system which included the development of the Ethiopian Agriculture Portal (EAP), Woreda Knowledge Centres (WKC) and the use of FTCs for knowledge capturing and sharing. Support was also provided to encourage the use of methods such as field days, demonstration plots on farmer’s fields and FTCs, study tours, exhibitions/fairs, seminars and actor linkages to capture and share knowledge.
To build the capacity of service providers the project also facilitated training in soft and hard skills and also developed training materials. A particular form of increasing the knowledge and skills of service providing staff was the support provided fro formal training of District, Zonal, Regional and Federal level development and research staff at BSc and MSc levels. These students and their Universities were encouraged to conduct their theses research in Districts/Regions and on topics which could assist in developing a more market oriented development.
In line with NEPAD’s comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) and the Policy Implementation Framework (PIF) our government has now laid out an aligned direction for development and has launched its five year Growth and transformation Plan (GTP), which reemphasizes the commercialization of smallholder agriculture. Projects within the framework of the GTP such as the Productive Safety net and the Agricultural Growth Program (AGP) will now complement the food security Programs and specifically deal with more market oriented agricultural development. the new and recently launched flagship program of the Ministry of Agriculture, the AGP is designed to increase agricultural productivity and market access for key crop and livestock products in targeted Woredas with increased participation of women and youth. The government has also appreciated the need for interaction between various actors and stakeholders involved in agricultural development and launched the ADPLAC to serve as a platform for interactions and actions to enhance agricultural development.
The IPMS project has tried a number of innovative strategies and implemented interventions knowledge management, capacity development, commodity development and learning, along with cross-cutting issues of gender, HIV/AIDS and the environment. These were implemented in support of developing a more market-oriented production system through technical interventions to improve productivity and production; access to inputs and services to produce marketable commodities; capacity building and knowledge sharing activities. The project has now recorded a number of successes in methods, approaches and processed involved in market-oriented agricultural development. However, we also recognized that the introduction of the various value chain interventions is a continuous process, which requires committed engagement and careful monitoring, evaluation and learning. The lessons learned from such proactive engagement result in new value chain interventions which require again new and advanced technology, knowledge and capacity development. This will be our major challenge in the implementation of our Growth and Transformation Plan.
This workshop is important and timely as it brings together and share lessons among researchers, development practitioners, private sector and donors that have been working on efforts to promote market oriented agriculture. These lessons will be immensely helpful in designing strategies to scale them out to assist the process of agricultural transformation. It is with this in mind that the ministry looks forward sharing the interventions and lessons learned from the IPMS project.
In conclusion, I would like to re-emphasize that market-oriented agricultural development is central to the realization of our Growth and Transformation Plan. I wish you all a successful workshop and I eagerly look forward to the recommendations of the workshop to help us in designing our strategies for scaling out promising technologies and approaches for transforming the agricultural sector. At this juncture, I would like to thank ILRI, IPMS project, CIDA and all other actors and stakeholders in market-oriented agricultural development for organizing this important and timely sharing event. I wish you a successful workshop!