Ethiopia hosts ICARDA’s Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program, and under the Center’s decentralization strategy, the country is also the host for a new integrated research platform on crop-livestock production systems, building on the ICARDA’s 35-year partnership with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and providing a foundation to apply scientific solutions and improve agricultural productivity throughout East Africa and the Horn of Africa.
Research activities undertaken in Ethiopia and the wider region include the development of improved crop varieties – including wheat, barley, kabuli chickpea, lentil, faba bean, and grass pea; market-driven options for livestock diversification through the development of range/crop/forage integration; integrated water and land management strategies – such as water harvesting, supplemental irrigation, and conservation agriculture; and socio-economic and policy research – developing options for linking small farmers more closely to markets and value chains.
These thematic areas are reflected in a series of on-going collaborative research activities with Ethiopian partners: a fast-track crop research and extension partnership that developed rust-resistant wheat varieties and delivered them to farmers nationwide in record time; an effort to exploit mobile technology to enhance community-based sheep breeding programs; and an integrated strategy to raise wheat production – helping to strengthen food and nutritional security and ease Ethiopia’s rising dependence on imported wheat.
In order to consolidate the productive relationship with Ethiopia, ICARDA’s Director General, Dr. Mahmoud Solh, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture, H. E. Ato Tefera Derbw. The MoU confirmed the establishment of a Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Program Office in Addis Ababa, and a research for development platform that would focus on the enhancement of mixed crop-livestock production systems – in both Ethiopia and the wider region.
Articles of the MoU also deal with the exchange of germplasm and information; priorities for research for development collaborative activities; capacity strengthening initiatives; and general communication and coordination between both parties. The result: a clear agenda that builds on the synergies and expertise of both parties and a strategy that effectively targets higher productivity and better and more resilient livelihoods across Ethiopia.