Arba Minch University has signed a Sub-Grant Agreement - REALISE, a part of overarching project called Bilateral Ethiopia Netherlands Efforts for Food, Income and Trade (BENEFIT) Partnership in Ethiopia with Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands, which will ensure food security, improve livelihood and build institutional capacity in 16 selected poverty-stricken kebeles of Gamo Gofa and Segen Area Peoples Zone.

This three-year agreement was signed by AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza and Stitching Wageningen Research Centre for Development Innovation Managing Director, Prof Jgaj van der Vorst, in Addis Ababa in May 2018; it comes into effect from November 2018 till 2020.

Research and Community Service Vice President, Dr Simon Shibru, is the senior advisor for this project. Cluster Manager, Dr Tesfaye of Hawassa University and Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), Bureau of Agriculture and Southern Agricultural Research Institute’s delegates are other senior advisors on board for REALISE.

AMU Cluster Coordinator, Dr Mabratu Alemu, will lead this project with its office is situated at Kulfo Campus; three full-time researchers and many enumerators have also been appointed to carry out its designated agenda in an organized manner.

Wageningen University & Research has allocated € 226,149 (ETB 7.5 Million) for this three-year project. Four poverty-stricken woredas, Amaro, Drashe of Segen Area Peoples Zone, while Zala and Uba-Debretsehay are in Gamo Gofa Zone; overall 16 kebeles, of which 4 from each woredas will receive intervention.

Elaborating further, Dr Simon adds, the survey in this regard has already begun where researchers are busy identifying best practices applied by farmers with regard to water and soil conservation. They may be provided with new technology to minimize their dependence on soil, offer better income diversification options, but entire interventional components will be determined after understanding the survey report.

REALISE’s stipulated goal is the sub-set activities of PSPN expected to increase agricultural productivity and improve sustainable livelihood of smallholders in chronically food insecure districts through enhanced human, organizational and industrial capacities to validate, adapt and scale up best fit practices and innovations. Establishing climate-resilient green economy, shoring up extension activities and imparting specific trainings are also on the cards, he added.

This humanitarian endeavor in all likelihood will transform an ordinary farmer into modern one as they adopt advanced technology, which will be sustainable approach paving the way for food sufficiency and improved livelihood. Similarly, it will ensure that capacity is build and environment is climate-resilient that will further help in poverty reduction, he maintained.

The expected outcomes of this significant project is to develop best practices that meet expressed needs and have the potential to contribute to increased productivity and resilience are available for scaling in selected PSPN woredas. Increased availability, timely delivery and use of quality seed of new, improved and farmer-preferred varieties through multiple channels; it will ensure viably conducive environment for the institutionalization of evidence-based system innovations, it’s learnt.

Dr Simon furthermore informed that apart from AMU, Haramaya, Woldiya and Bahir Dar universities are other units implementing Sub-Grant agreement in their respective catchments. The duration of this project might get renewed if our performance will progress as expected, he reiterated.

Adding further, he said, AMU being satellite unit is accountable to Cluster University Hawassa; AMU team has already identified the kebeles. Apart from seminar and conferences, the project will have independent auditing body for periodical evaluation to ensure designated goal is achieved in the stipulated timeframe.

Reacting on bagging this huge project, he said, actually it is part of my job and we are continuously trying, at times we may fail, but I don’t believe in giving up. As a leader, we have to look outside to see whether we can bring in some value to our own institution; therefore, we must keep going, he sums up.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)