Refreshment awareness raising and capacity building workshop organized for farmers in Gindeberet Woreda

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.

News-Intro-Image4Then 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.

News-Intro-Image2Accordingly, 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.

The event is like a day break- The beginning of a shift in our attitudes toward nature

During the first week of June 2016, MELCA-Ethiopia has organized legal workshops in Gambela Nation’s regional state. The legal workshops were organized for high government officials at regional and zonal levels.

Gambella region is one of the few areas in Ethiopia with dense natural forest coverage, many perennial rivers and plain land. Recently the region has become the focus of both national and international media because of the large-scale agricultural investments that are prevailing in the area.

The workshops are intended to raise the awareness and build the capacity of law enforcement organs, the justice body and administrative officials in the government structure with regard to national and international laws, policies, strategies and institutional arrangements as well as international movements and developments in relation to environment and climate change.

The workshop organized for government officials at regional level was officially opened by the vice president of Gambella Nations regional state H.E Engineer Oliero Opiew. In his opening speech Engineer Oliero mentioned that Ethiopia has announced that it is following the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), which requires government organs and all citizens to be concerned of conservation of natural resources more than ever. He said “Those of us in the government administration and law enforcement structure are more responsible for conservation of the natural resources of the region through strict enforcement of relevant laws and policies of the country. So this workshop is very important to build the capacity of these organs so that they can discharge the responsibility expected of them more effectively and contribute to the effectiveness of the national policy.”

The discussion points for the workshop were arranged in such a way that national and international environmental laws dealing with conservation of nature and governance systems are discussed; policy and institutional arrangements are examined and the real practices and experiences existing on the ground in the region are scrutinized against these national and international arrangements.

In addition to these, the causes and effects of climate change as well as the international politics going on in relation to it, and also what we as citizens of a poor developing country who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change should do were among the issues discussed during these meetings.

Lots of thoughts were triggered and there was a moment of Aaha in all the participants to the regional and zonal workshops. Some of the participants showed they started to feel the pain and reflected it in the following manner:

A high government official at the regional workshop pleaded we (MELCA) have to organize a meeting on which government officials at federal level and regional level, the investors working in the region and community representatives come together and discuss on such issues.

Vise head of the environment, climate change and forest bureau of the region admitted that so far, lands have been given for investment without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as required by the law. He reflected that the giving land for investment has been halted for the time being and in the future they will pay due attention to the issue of EIA as a condition for any investment and there is strong hope that this will be put in to practice.

One participant at the zonal workshop reflected that he had never thought of the value of other creatures such as monkeys, snakes and ants for our survival. He said “I always though of such animals as nuisances and their absence may affect our survival in any way. Today is really a day up on which I learned great thing in my life. It is a shift of mind in the way I see nature and value other creatures.”

A Glorious Day in Meti town of Majang Zone

Majang zone is one of the Zones in Gambella National Regional State in Southwestern part of Ethiopia. It is among the areas in Southwestern part of Ethiopia rich with natural resources as well as enchanting cultural heritages and traditional practices of the local communities.

Celebrating our Traditional Foods and Seed Varieties

Life and activities in Holeta town, found some 40 kms to the west of Addis Ababa, were ‘not as usual’ on the morning of Saturday the 28th of December 2015. Farmers and young students were streaming in to the town from all directions carrying various foodstuffs, crop varieties and traditional artifacts. They are coming from rural kebeles in Welmera woreda. Most of them were also in their traditional attires.

Living with nature, on nature, for nature

news-intro-image1Southwestern part of Ethiopia is known by its dense natural forest. Sheka zone is one of the areas in southwest part of Ethiopia that is rich in its biodiversity. The culture and way of living of the community has played a great role in conserving the natural environment.

Two colorful and exciting days at Holeta and Tepi towns

for-web1As the end of the year 2014 approached, all MELCA staff has been busy doing this and that to complete the actions planned for the year. One of the major actions to be completed before end of the year has been coordinating events of bio-cultural diversity celebration.