The underlying problem framing or conceptualization guides interventions to promote food system transformation. This framing, on the other hand, pays little attention to other, sometimes underlying causes of food system challenges, such as institutional interplay or power imbalances. In practice, however, determining how to intervene in a specific food system to most effectively promote food and nutrition security remains difficult. RAISE-FS acknowledges and facilitate multi-stakeholders’ platforms to improve and develop new models of collaboration and partnerships to ensure that all stakeholders are engaged and have a fair say in food system issues. RAISE-FS organized the third regional planning and validation workshop at Haramaya University as part of its ongoing efforts. On the 7th and 9th of June, it was held in the Haramaya University campus, followed by a validation workshop on the 9th of June 2022 at Harar town. The planning workshop, the goal was to plan activities based on draft and generic activities plan prepared by RAISE-FS advisers and component leaders to guide the planning.
Dr. Tesfaye Lema, vice president of Haramaya University’s research affairs office, gave the opening speech during the planning workshop. Dr. Tesfaye Lema remarked in his opening statement that farmers and other agricultural stakeholders in Harargie are very excited to welcome RAISE-FS, and Haramaya University is determined to making the project a success, at least as successful as its predecessor, BENEFIT. He stated that he is familiar with all of the prior programs under the BENEFIT umbrella program. He claimed that these programs have yielded a lot of results, and he expects RAISE-FS to deliver much more. “Haramaya University is your home, and welcome to your home” Dr. Tesfaye Lema told the audience. SWR Ethiopia and WUR are strategic partners of Haramaya University, according to Dr. Tesfaye.
The first two days were spent preparing activities, while the third day was devoted for a validation workshop. The planning team was given a brief introduction of Stichting Wageningen Research (SWR) Ethiopia and the RAISE-FS project, including the project’s aims, outcome areas, the three food systems defined by RAISE-FS, and the project’s theory of change. Dr. Tewodrose Tefera, the project’s senior advisor for food system transformation, stressed that planning should prioritize innovation testing and validation in order to develop evidence for scaling and influencing policy change. Stakeholders will examine the plan during the validation workshop, and those actions that are validated and accepted by stakeholders will be implemented, according to Dr. Tewodrose. He admitted that the planning had been pushed back this year due to a number of issues, but for next year it will be done as early as possible said Dr. Tewodrose.
Then presentations on key elements, drivers, and major outcome areas were given to provide context and insight into the food system transformation approach. Component leaders presented drafted activities for each of the five outcome areas. Participants raised some clarification questions and suggested points to consider during the planning process as the issues were discussed. Presenters and other members of the RAISE-FS team responded to questions and provided explanations. Participants were also given information on the proposed rapid food system appraisal and the baseline survey. It was mentioned that the two studies are intended to create information that will be used in the next planning process.
Haramaya university RAISE-FS planning team in two groups planned activities based on the background information and orientation provided. Before the validation workshop, the entire planning team evaluated and commented on the plans. The groups planned activities for the two food systems, high potential areas (Haramaya woreda) and food insecure areas (Keresa and Baible woredas). Evaluation and promotion of early maturing sorghum intercropping with mung bean, promotion of ground nut technologies, and home gardening for year-round availability of nutritionally dense food types are activities for food insecure areas. The planned activities for high potential areas include validation of potato production and storage technologies, home gardening, and demonstration of semi-commercial chicken production.
Consecutively, a validation workshop was held on June 9, 2022, at the Ras Hotel in Harar town, where the planned activities were presented. Following the presentations, participants thoroughly discussed and reviewed the planned activities in relation to their priorities. The majority of the activities, according to the participants, are in line with their interests and priorities. Participants made excellent recommendations and comments to enrich and consolidate the planned activities. The RAISE-FS regional team was tasked with consolidating the plan based on stakeholder input and share it with RAISE-FS team.
The planning team was made up of an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Haramaya University. For the validation workshop participants came from zone to woreda level agriculture offices, women, children, and youth affairs offices, Fedis agriculture research center, and administration offices.