A launching workshop for the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Grant (PHRDG) projects for Ethiopia, Nigeria and Benin held in Addis Ababa
A launching workshop for the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Grant (PHRDG) projects was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from December 19 to 22, 2023. This hybrid event featured the launch of PHRDG1 “Evidence-based Regenerative Agriculture to Address Climate Change in Ethiopia and Nigeria,” along with PHRDG2 “Improving Rice Productivity by Decarbonizing Cultivation for 12,000 Hectares of Irrigated Paddy Fields in the Republic of Benin.” Representatives from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation - TAAT, the Ethiopia Ministry of Agriculture, and the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA)'s Ethiopia and Nigeria Country Offices, as well as its Strategic Partnership office, and Softbank Corp. and SAA headquarters, were in attendance.
During his opening speech, Dr. Mel Oluoch, Director of SAA’s Strategic Partnerships Office, underlined the need to develop critical evidence of carbon sequestration from the Regenerative Agriculture (RA) practices promoted by the project. He stressed the importance of incentivizing farmers through Carbon Marketing, compensating them monetarily for adopting practices that increase soil carbon content and scaling up these practices across more areas.
With a budget of USD 975,000, PHRDG1 project will be implemented from 2023 to 2025 in the Buyo-Kechema and Shashemene Kebeles of Jimma Zone's Seka-Chekorsa district in Ethiopia, and ten communities in Nasarawa State, Nigeria. While in Benin, PHRDG-II project is implemented in ten communities. These projects aim to leverage regenerative agriculture practices, integrating knowledge and technologies, to achieve a 40-60% increase in productivity and improve the livelihoods of farmers by 30% through a collaboration between SAA, SoftBank, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), which is responsible for implementing the TAAT program. By focusing on soil health, agrobiodiversity, agroecosystems, and reducing carbon emissions, the project seeks to transform agricultural development in Africa.
|Dr. Mel Oluoch, Director of SAA’s Strategic Partnerships Office
|Dr. Innocent Musabyimana, Chief Agricultural Technologies Officer at the AfDB
Dr. Innocent Musabyimana, Chief Agricultural Technologies Officer at the AfDB stated that these projects are flagships of the AfDB’s activity. He appreciated the partnership and informed the workshop that the bank is very pleased working with SAA in the evidence-based RA projects. He also stated that IITA is a technical partner of the bank anchoring the TAAT Clearing House. He appreciated the expertise in the EiA and the Soft Bank as key partners to the success of the projects. He opined that the outcome of these projects will trigger scaling out of the innovative RA practices, including resilience and productivity.
Dr. Charles Murekezi, the TAAT Program Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator, emphasized that this collaboration aims to expand access to high-potential and advanced agricultural technologies throughout Africa. By leveraging these technologies and reaching millions of farmers, the project aims to significantly boost agricultural productivity across the continent.
The key objectives of the workshop included addressing the current status of project activities in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Benin Republic and providing updates to the Implementing Partners on matters arising from these activities. The workshop also aimed to harmonize activities across the countries, where feasible, and presented updates on work plans, institutional arrangements, and budgets for the projects, ensuring that all stakeholders were aligned in their understanding and approach.
|Dr. Fentahun Mengistu, SAA-Ethiopia Country Director
|Dr. Godwin Atser, SAA-Nigeria Country Director
Dr. Fentahun Mengistu, the SAA-Ethiopia Country Director, emphasized the importance of addressing soil degradation, agro-biodiversity loss, and enhancing agroecosystem services through a Regenerative Agriculture pathway to increase agricultural productivity, improve nutrition, strengthen adaptation and resilience to climate change in Africa. The project aims to increase the productivity of rice in Nigeria, and maize and wheat in Ethiopia, while simultaneously building resilience in the food system.
SAA-Nigeria Country Director, Dr. Director Godin Atser, stated that challenges of productivity, soil fertility, ecosystems, climate change and other issues in Africa need to build resilience so as to mitigate and cope-up with it. We hope to increase the productivity of rice in Nigeria, and maize and wheat in Ethiopia, and build resilience in the food system.
On his opening statement, Mr. Lire Abiyu, Soil Resource Development Lead Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture expressed his appreciation of the project taking place in Ethiopia. He praised SAA’s achievements in Ethiopia and pledged the ministry’s fully support for the success of the project. Finally, on behalf of the Ethiopian Government, he declared the launching event officially open.
The field visit following the workshop included a tour of the Farmers' Training Center at Bulessa Kebele of Aleta Wondo District, Sidama Region, where participants visited the e-kakashi system and a solar-powered water pump in action. The team also visited local farms that use sustainable farming practices like organic inputs and solar-powered irrigation systems. The field visit demonstrated the project's commitment to integrating modern technologies with sustainable agricultural practices. Returning to Addis Ababa on 22 December, the team convened at the Ethiopia Country Office to debrief the field visit and to cap off the two-day launch workshop.
This workshop marks a watershed moment in Africa’s agricultural transformation, leveraging regenerative agriculture practices, and integrating cutting-edge knowledge and technologies to significantly improve farmer productivity and livelihoods.