By Devika Jyothi
SITA’s intervention in the Ethiopian spices sector began in early 2016 with efforts to help farmers revitalize the ginger and turmeric production in the country. Ethiopia’s ginger productivity had fallen dramatically in the recent years due to the outbreak of bacterial wilt disease. SITA organized field and class room trainings, as well as an exposure visit to Indian spices producers, enabling Ethiopian farmers to learn the best agricultural practices for the selection, harvesting and treatment of ginger and turmeric rhizomes prior to planting, the planting process and soil treatment.
Furthermore, to increase the volume of production and improve post-harvest quality at farm and processor levels, a training package was designed – based on inputs from the training needs assessment workshop – for the attention of the different actors involved in the ginger and turmeric value chains. Following the needs assessment workshop held in April 2016, it was decided to focus on small holder farmers, as well to organise and implement a training of trainers (ToT) programme.
In accordance with the training strategy, SITA organised the first ToT pilot at the Tepi Spices Research Centre of the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research, from 8-10 March 2017. The ToT is designed to enable field trainers to deliver training on best post-harvest practices to small holder farmers, using the facilitators’ guidelines and the IEC resources developed for the programme, through a cascading training system. Nearly 240 smallholder farmers are expected to receive training in this pilot. A refresher course is also planned for the second semester of 2017, a few weeks before harvesting season.
Seventeen field trainers with proven knowledge of production or processing of ginger and turmeric in Ethiopia participated in the ToT pilot programme. The participants included extension officers, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, researchers, processors and agronomists from the private sector; nearly half of them were women.
The module for ToT included sessions and activities designed to allow field trainers to share their knowledge and experience, and learn from their peers. The sessions were aimed at reinforcing the trainers’ knowledge on post-harvest practices for ginger and turmeric so as to help them explain and demonstrate the practices to a target audience of small holder farmers with low literacy levels. A session focused on the importance of a learner-centred approach and the benefits of hands-on training.
“The training was a revelation for me with its participative and practical methodology. I will not use one-way training anymore,” said Mebhatu Baza, an extension officer.
The ToT also included a field test where the participants prepared and delivered training for nearly 40 smallholder farmers on best post-harvest practices to improve the quality of their turmeric production.
The farmers’ training component included sessions covering the myth and facts about best post-harvest practices; demonstration of best post-harvest practices for sorting, drying and storing rhizomes, as well as a discussion on the challenges and economic benefits of quality ginger and turmeric production. Organised at community level, the two-hour module used the tools, activities and methodology specifically developed for this programme.
The practical sessions with farmers will ensure that the trainers are actively involved in and committed to training more farmers. “Thanks to the training and the material, I am now comfortable to train farmers. The leaflet and poster are very comprehensive and well adapted to train farmers,” commented Eskeda Asfam Yeki from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I appreciate the training because we could share our knowledge and debate on it. Also the trainer showed us how to implement practices. I also like the poster and leaflet,” commented a farmer who participated in the field training.
The field trainers, who attended the ToT, have agreed to a training contract under which they will organise and facilitate five training sessions for 240 smallholder farmers, on a voluntary basis, during the autumn of 2017. With such interventions, SITA will continue to work towards enhancing the production and quality of ginger and turmeric production in Ethiopia, as farmers and processors look forward to a brighter future – a future where they make a good living from their crops.