RAISE-FS and ENSP staffs met with Worldveg Ethiopia team on 22nd of July 2022 at SWR Ethiopia office to share experiences and discuss opportunities for collaboration. Dr. Tewodrose Terefe, RAISE-FS senior advisor, made an introductory remark to set the scene of the learning event. In his introductory remark he cited the forum’s general objective as sharing of experiences between Worldveg and RAISE-FS projects to promote research for food system transformation through collaboration. Dr. Tewodrose said the two projects have commonalities especially in nutrition, soil health and plant protection. He added this experience sharing forum will serve as a means for exploring the rationale and possibilities of developing collaborative initiatives for the projects to work together and create synergy.
Then, the Worldveg project manager, Dr. Wubneh, presented the project overview and focus areas to SWR Ethiopia staffs. Dr. Wubneh’s presented, the background of the project, the specific objective of the project, the theory of change and the partners of the project. Dr. Wubneh in his presentation shared that WorldVeg conducts research and development programs that contribute to realize the potential of vegetables for healthier lives and more resilient livelihoods in Ethiopia. Vegetable cultivation has a high potential to enhance farm household’s livelihood through food provision, income generation, and employment. So, it aims at creating jobs (because vegetable production is labour intensive) and income for women and youth in the vegetable sector and to improve human health through safe production of vegetables, strengthening the vegetable sector, increase employment and safeguard the environment. Dr. Wubneh added it is a five-year project remaining with three years, and it is funded by the IKEA Foundation.
Following the presentation, SWR Ethiopia staffs relfelcted and raised some clarification questions. They appreciated that the presentation as very informative and remarked that the two projects have many commonalities. The flagships of the Worldveg Ethiopia have similarities with RAISE-FS outcome areas. They requested further clarification regarding the project intervention area, implementation approach, how the project work to bring about diversification, post-harvest management of vegetable produce, how is the acceptability of IPM (especially botanicals), how the project ensure sustainability, experiences related to water use and water harvesting, which type vegetable seed (hybrid or OPV) it is promoting, empowering women and income pathways the project implementing.
Worldveg Ethiopia project team reflected to the question raised. In their reflections, the Worldveg Ethiopia intervention area is project based, currently it is being implemented in three woredas. One of the Worldveg intervention woreda is the same as RAISE-FS. There are some post-harvest management practices the project promoting, sun dried storage and making juice. However, it was noted that it is quite difficult to tell this as a successful practice, but the project is promoting this for some vegetable crops. To bring about vegetable production diversity the project starts from the market, it tries to identify the challenges and preferences of the consumer. There is huge market locally for vegetables, so the project encourages and support farmers to diversify their production. Hybrid vegetable seed is very expensive and availability is a problem so the project focuses on OPV vegetable crops that are released by research centers in the country. It provides farmers a ‘seed kit’, small amount improved varieties of different vegetable crops in one pack. The project train them, follow-up and provide backstopping services. The project set-up learning plots at champion farmers field where neighboring farmers visit and learn. It is tough to target women and young people who own or have access to land. The project managed to engage as many women and youth as possible in collaboration with stakeholders, reaching up to 40% of total participants. Fortunately, the vegetable value chain is friendly to women; women are involved in the vegetable market chain and are key actors.
Worldveg team reflected that sustainability is always an issue for project support activities, fortunately vegetable production has an incentive. Farmers are linked to a vegetable market chain so what they produce is sold in the market and they receive significant income. The project has business coaches in the intervention woredas who daily support these farmers. There is real time information flow between these business coach and the experts at Worldveg national office. The business coach provide solutions thar are at their level, if they can’t do that, they transfer it the national office.
In a concluding remark, Dr. Tewodrose remarked that the two projects have commonalities in their project focus. RAISE-FS focus on testing and validation of innovations to generate evidence to be mainstreamed by the stakeholders. Dr. Tewodrose mentioned the following areas where the two projects can work together:
- Collaborate in developing a well-functioning vegetable seed system
- Share experiences and collaborate on water use efficiency and water harvesting practices
- Promotion of Indigenous Vegetables: RAISE-FS is promoting local vegetable crops through home gardening, Worldveg has many accessions of these crops.
- Inclusiveness, women and youth empowerment
- Sustainable production: promotion of organic and bio fertilizers
“It is the first discussion forum but will not be the last” said Dr. Tewodrose. As a way forward, he stated, “in the short run, we can collaborate on the project activities being implemented, and in the long run, we can sign MoU by identifying collaboration areas.” Dr. Wubneh from Worldveg agreed with the suggestions mentioned and stated that they will continue to explore areas where the two projects can collaborate.