RAISE-FS regional teams planned 2023 activities with a close support of national advisors for the five outcome areas and food systems of the project. The teams adapted and improved the plans based on inputs received from the national  advisors. The revised work plans were presented in a series of validation workshops to key food system stakeholders in South, Oromia and Amhara regions. The validation workshops were organized sequentially starting at Hawassa, then at Adama and Bahirdar cities for South, Oromia and Amhara regions respectively from 16 to 26th of January 2023.

 The objectives of the work plan validation workshops were to review the progress and lessons learned from 2022 project work plan implementation and obtain feedback on the 2023 work plan. The workshop was also aimed at involving scaling partiners in the work plan validation so that they understand the process and provide feedback in view of the future scaling of the proven innovations.

In this validadtion workshop, the RAISE-FS project implementing partners: ARARI and Bahir Dar University for Amahara region, EIAR and Haramaya University for Oromia and SARI and Hawassa University for South region were presented the progress and update of the 2022 project activities and the new plans for the 2023.

The plans were prepared for the three food system typologies (commercial oriented, high potential- moderately food secure, and food insecure) in the three regions, mainly based on the outputs of the household baseline survey and rapid food system appraisal, which were conducted in 2022. These two studies identified key leverage points per the food system  or woreda, which informed the designing of the 2023 work plans. The  work plans primarily focused on the validation and testing of innovations per the food system in each region. Due attention was also given to women and youth empowerment, income generation and promotion of year-round availability and consumption of nutrient dense foods.

In commercial areas of South, the 2023 plan focused on the introduction of small-scale poultry commercialization and improvement of the supply chain of chicken, chicken products, and poultry feed. In high potentials areas of the South region, the plan focused on diversification of the production system which is dominated by potato. In food insecure areas, the team gave prior attention to demonstration of nutritionally dense crop types like orange- fleshed sweet potato and its utilization.

In Amhara, for the commercial food system, the work plan focused on demonstration of sesame, soybean and sunflower technologies. It also prioritized to strengthening the stakeholder platform that has been established by Sesame Business Network (SBN). It is proposed to establish a multi-stakeholder platform where not available to address the complex challenges in the oil seed sector and alignment for oil crops value chains produced in Mirab Armachio. For the food insecure areas including the recently selected Ziquala woreda which is the intervention area of Sekota Dry Land Agricultural Research Center (DLARC), promoting sustainable production of pearl millet for food security was proposed as a priority. Enhancement of the seed system for food security crops in Zequala woreda (Pear millet, mung bean, common bean, sorghum), year round production and consumption ofnutrient-dense vegetables and fruits were also proposed. The collaboration between Sekota DLARC and RAISE-FS was delayed due to the conflict in the area. The research team from Sekota DLARC came up with the plan which was reviewed and refined together with RAISE-FS advisors two days prior to the validation workshop.  

In commercial areas of Oromia region, the 2023 plan in addition to the introduction of commercialization poultry and improvement of the supply chain of chicken, emphasis was given in the productivity of lentil through demonstration of improved lentil technologies that focuses on integrated pest management. In high potentials areas of the region, the plan focused on supply chain of potato and faba bean seed system improvement. In food insecure areas, major focus is given on the food security crops such as sorhum, millets, common bean technology validation and demonstration. Seed supply system improvement (shallot, onion, and carrot) is also among the areas given due emphasis in these areas.  

During the validation workshops in the three regions, stakeholders thoroughly discussed the proposed activities and provided their feedback. On most of the activities, participants agreed that they are priorities and relevant leverage points to contribute toward food system transformation and in some cases, participants suggested that proposed activities should focus on bringing system change by focusing on innovating input supply systems and market linkages to make the interventions sustainabile .

Dr. Tilaye Teklewold, ARAR General Director, making opening speech at Bahir Dar

RAISE-FS regional team members from SARI, EIAR and ARARI research institutes and Hawassa, Haramaya and Bahir Dar universities participated in the planning process. The RAISE-Fs national team are also among the participants attended these validation workshop in all the three regions. Moreover, in attendancewere representatives from  Regional bureaus of agriculture, seed enterprises, women and childrenand other relevant stakeholder groups.

The workshops were very successful in meeting its intended purpose, to have activity plan validated and endorsed by stakeholders. It was also very important for all participant stakeholders to voice their concerns at this stage so everyone feels heard and their concerns considered throughout this process. Dr, Dawit Alemu, SWR Ethiopia country representative and RAISE-FS project manager, in his concluding remark at validation workshop in Bahir Dar, said that the joint efforts should focus on the validation of that have a potential to be scaled and , and can bring about system change. He also stressed that in implementing the planned research activities attention should focus on generating and documenting evidence to influence decision makers.

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