A national event was organized by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Institute (ATI) on 3rd December, 2022 to discuss about how the different agricultural professional societies can work together for better contribution to the agricultural sector transformation meanwhile promoting their respective profession in education, research and development.
Representatives of the agricultural professional societies reported that their main roles have been promotion of their respective profession through active engagement of scientific documentation and policy advocacy. The main tools are (i) regular organization of annual conferences where members present and share recent scientific evidences along with sharing of the evidences through regular publication of proceedings of the annual conferences, (ii) managing the regular publication of scientific journals, and (iii) operationalization of websites for up-to-date information sharing.
In Ethiopia, professional societies are expected to operate legally through official registration at the Authority for Civil Society Organizations (ACSOs). Currently, there are twelve agricultural professional societies in Ethiopia. These are:
- Ethiopian Society of Soil Science
- Ethiopian Forestry Society
- Ethiopian Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences Association
- Plant Protection Society of Ethiopia
- Ethiopian Association of Agricultural Professionals
- Ethiopian Society of Rural Development and Agricultural Extension
- Agricultural Economics Society of Ethiopia
- Ethiopian Society of Horticulture
- Ethiopian Veterinary Association
- Ethiopian Society of Animal Production
- Crop Science Society of Ethiopia
- Ethiopian Weed Science Society
The societies operate through generation of financial resource from annual member contributions and solicitation of finance from development partners. In terms of performance, some are active where all planned activities are performed and others operate irregularly depending up on the commitment of their respective leadership and members. The key driver of performance was reported to be the commitment of members and leadership.
Even though the different professional associations have considerably contributed in promoting their respective profession, it was reported that their engagement in influencing development agenda was very low. Accordingly, the key objective of the event was to discuss and come up with possible options related to how to synergize and collaborate among the societies for improved influence through active engagement with policy makers mainly with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Following the long deliberation, the participants agreed to establish some sort of formal alliance of societies of agricultural professionals that will formally serve as a think-tank for the MoA. How the alliance will be officially setup along with its terms of reference was agreed to be drafted by a taskforce nominated during the workshop. The taskforce is expected to benchmark international experiences and to consult all professional societies and the MoA to come up with the draft for final approval by all professional societies.
If well established, the alliance will serve as one of the main entry points for scaling and mainstreaming of evidence of agricultural innovations demonstrated by different organizations including SWR Ethiopia.