Crop rotations in Ethiopia

Sesame is a valuable commercial crop in north-west Ethiopia; but years of mono-cropping have left soil nutrients depleted and yields declining. 2SCALE works with the Sesame Business Network and CDI-Netherlands to persuade farmers to rotate sesame with other crops such as sorghum. Farmers are aware of the benefits, but asked two questions. Where is the market for sorghum? And how can we increase productivity to be able to compete with producers from elsewhere in the country?

Both questions have now been answered. After 18 months of brokering and field trials, we identified sorghum varieties suitable for brewing. Meta Beer (owned by multinational giant Diageo) has announced a pilot program, under which it will buy 2,000 tons of white sorghum from four farmer unions working with 2SCALE. The delivery contract will be signed in October. Second, 2SCALE worked with research centers in Ethiopia to develop two training manuals (for development agents and for farmers) to disseminate simple, low-cost methods to increase sorghum yields. We then used the cascade approach to promote these technologies. Twenty trainers were selected and underwent intensive training from sorghum experts. These trainers then trained 150 government extension agents (82 men, 68 women), who in turn trained more than 2,500 farmers.

The program is ongoing. Farmer-trainees have implemented the new practices this season, and many more will be trained in the coming season. With a guaranteed market and improved technology, we expect massive increases in sorghum production, soil health and farm incomes in the coming seasons.

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