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Farmers’ Day Celebrated

 

By:- Shemsedin Mohammed/ Public & International Relation Directorate

Haramaya University CASCAPE and ISSD projects colourfully celebrated the annual Farmers’ Day from September 25-26, 2015 in Kombolcha, Babile, and Fedis districts (woredas) in East Hararghe Zone, Oromia Regional State.

As an annual event, the celebration was aimed at reviewing the progresses of the ongoing technology transfer activities and to strengthen the scholarly contributions and collaborations of farmers, researchers, and other development stakeholders. The two-day trip, as scheduled, covered three research sites in Kombolcha, Babile and Fedis.

The first field day in Kombolcha district (woreda) was dedicated to the inauguration of three diffused light potato stores constructed by the ISSD and CASCAPE projects of the University as a major partnership activity. The constriction of the potato stores was meant to introduce improved seed potato storage technology to the district, which is famed for production and export of huge quantities of ware potato.

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Professor Nigussie Dechassa, Vice-President for Research Affairs and Coordinator of the Projects highlighted during the field day that dissemination of improved potato varieties in the district by Haramaya University led to increased acreage as well as productivity of the crop. However, he stressed that unawareness of potato farmers on how best to store seed potatoes and inappropriately storing the tubers often in sacks under dark condition led to both scarcity and poor quality of seed potatoes. In this connection, he said that diffused light potato seed storage technology is a key component in potato seed business. He added that potato producers particularly in Hararghe zones rarely access quality seed tubers for planting due to lack of proper seed management and storage systems.

Prof. Nigussie Dechassa explained that DLS uses indirect natural light and good ventilation or airflow instead of low temperature to control excessive sprout growth and associated storage loss of seed potatoes. The diffused light storage is a very simple and low cost structure which allows the diffusion of daylight and free ventilation inside the storage that helps to suppress the elongation of sprouts as in a dark storage.

Awareness creation, training and experience sharing as well as construction of DLS for SPCs engaged in potato seed production in the ISSD and CASCAPE project districts were considered as an important component to support seed producer cooperatives (SPC) especially that that are engaged in potato seed production

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Professor Nigussie Dechassa indicated that, given the importance of potato production in terms of enhancing food security and increasing farmers’ income in the district, the Office of Research Affairs of the University assessed the situation and initiated the construction of the three potato stores at Qaqallli, Bilisuma, and Egu Kebeles in the district for use by potato seed producer cooperatives. He briefed the audience that the construction of each diffused light potato store cost about 350,000 (three hundred and fifty) thousand Birr, which has a capacity of storing about 500 (50 tonnes) quintals of seed potato tubers. Thus, the three seed potato store houses constructed at the total cost of about 1,000,050 (one million and fifty) Birr would make available about 1500 quintals (150 tonnes) of seed potato tubers in the district every year. However, he stressed that the construction of the potato stores was basically meant not only to make a gift of standard diffuse light potato stores to the farmers as a support but also to teach potato farmers the principle of building the diffused light seed potato store so that they could construct and scale up small-scale diffused light potato store by themselves.

On the occasion, Professor Chemeda Fininsa, acting President of the University, handed over the potato see store keys to representatives of the potato seed producer cooperatives.

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On 26 Sept 2015, the second farmers’ field day took place first at Besidimo, which is located near and on the way to Babile. At Besidimo, production of hybrid maize (BH-661) on 13.5 hectares of land, which of the first of its kind in the Zone, was observed. The production was being undertaken by farmers through the support of the Zonal office of Agriculture with professional advice from experts of the University. The visitors included Head of the Zone Administration Mr. Demmisse Yachiso, other officials from east and west Hararghe Zones, leaders and researchers from Haramaya University, and other stakeholders.

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On the same day, another visit was made to Fedis to visit scaling up of Melkassa 2 maize seed production activities as a partnership activity of the ISSD project with other partners. The participants visited farmers’ maize production fields. After intensive farm visits, all participants gathered at one spot and discussed on the efforts and achievements of CASCAPE and ISSD projects of the University and the way forward.

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The farmers raised a number of issues related to the availability and production of quality seed particularly in relation to the way of procuring quality maize hybrid seeds sustainably, market outlet, and exposure to new technologies of quality seed production. Researchers from the University responded to the questions and highlighted the way forward.

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