A one day refreshment awareness raising and capacity building workshop on conservation of local seed verities, healthy soils and diversity on farms has been organized for farmers in Haro berbabo Kebele of Gindeberet woreda of West Showa zone and experts of relevant government offices of the woreda.
The purpose of the refreshment workshop is to build on the ongoing works of increasing the awareness and strengthens the adaptive capacity of the target farmers through promotion of local seed varieties, healthy soil management and agro-biodiversity.
The workshop is part of the activities planned to build on the Community Based Agro-biodiversity Management (CBAM) that MELCA has been engaged in with the local government administration of Gindeberet woreda and the farmer community in Haro berbabo Kebele of the woreda since 2014. The smallholder farmer families in the project area are challenged with the change in climate variability, as is the case elsewhere in the country. Hence, it is believed that there is a need to ensure the long-term food security of these people through strengthening their resilience and adaptive capacity by way of healthy soil management and agro-biodiversity practices. The strategy employed to this end is to use agro-biodiversity as a way to improve livelihood, conserve crop varieties and increase resilience to climate change.
As per the culture of the community in the area, the workshop was opened with a blessing of elders. This was then followed by a briefing of what MELCA has been doing in terms of raising funds required to continue the CBAM-Gindeberet project interrupted due to shortage of funds the organization faced. In this regard, Ato Tesfaye Birhanu, Finance and Admin. Manager of MELCA explained to the community and government representatives that although MELCA has completed construction of the Community Seed Bank in Haro berbabo Kebele, the seed bank has not been furnished with the facilities required to make it functional. As such MELCA has been doing all it can, for the past one year, to raise funds that would enable it furnish the seed bank and also continue the ecosystem rehabilitation and soil and water conservation it started in the area in the context of its agro-ecology program. Fortunately, the organization has secured a small grant to organize a refreshment workshop and furnish the seed bank. It is also working to raise substantial funds for continuation of the agro-ecology program and there is a strong hope that the funds will come. Ato Tesfaye also explained that the workshop organized for the day is to refresh the awareness of the community on CBAM and discuss on their needs and interests regarding furnishing of the seed bank.
Then Dr. Bayoush Tsegaye, an expert of CBAM, took over the floor to facilitate the awareness refreshment and capacity building workshop. Some of the topics discussed in the presentation by Dr. Bayush were:
- Agro-biodiversity management
- Methods of seed conservation
- Advantages of conserving farmers’ seed varieties
- Displaced and rare farmers’ seed varieties in the area
- Ways and techniques for restoration of displaced/rare seed varieties
- Soil fertility management
After a detailed discussion on the foregoing points, members of the farmers’ seed conservators and producers association in the Kebele were invited to report activities of their association, progresses and the challenges they faced in the past one-year.
Accordingly, Ato Derese Gero, chairman of Haro-Melca Farmers’ Seed Varieties Conservators and Producers Private Limited Association, reported that around 20 kinds of rare and displaced farmers seed varieties are currently found in the seed bank. The bank is lending these varieties to its members and the seed stock is increasing every year as a result of the interest on the paybacks. He mentioned that the seed stock of the bank, which was around 2300 kg last year, has reached around 5000 kg this year. Ato Derese also reported that members of the association have continued their annual contributions to increase the association’s capital and strengthen it. According to the chairman, the contribution by each member has reached birr 400/annum and they are planning to raise the annual contribution per person to birr 10,000. Regarding the revolving fund provided to poor members of the association (women and youth) as a start up capital to be engaged in income generating activities, the chairman reported that the beneficiaries are paying the money back with in the time set for the payback and the committee is planning selection of beneficiaries who will get the startup capital and engage in the next round.
Regarding the challenges the association faced in the past one year, the chairman reported that major problems were lack of money to fulfill equipments required to make the seed bank fully functional, lack of capital to engage in different income generating activities that would increase the association’s capital. Lack of expert advice and support is also another challenge the association is facing as reported by the chairman.
Finally, as part of the initiative by MELCA to furnish the seed bank with equipments required to make it fully functional, MELCA staff delegated from the head office in collaboration with the executive committee of the association managing the seed bank identified list of items to be purchased. It is agreed between delegates from MELCA and the committee that the seed bank will be furnished with required equipments by 15th of May 2018.
Members of the committee have also been committed to complete collection of seed repayment of the year by first week of April and mobilize the community for soil and water conservation and ecosystem rehabilitation works before the start of the next main rainy season.
Whereas a total of 126 people have participated on the awareness refreshment and capacity building training 119 were farmers who are members of the association and 7 were experts from relevant government offices of Gindeberet woreda.