HARAMAYA UNIVERSITY CONDUCTS FIELD DAYS

 

By: Shemsedin Mohammed/Public & International Relation Directorate

Haramaya University conducted annual farmers’, researchers’, and development stakeholders’ field days from 15 to 17 October 2015 in Babile, Gurawa, and Fedis districts in eastern Hararghe Zone.

Five sites were visited during the field days: crop and animal research station located on the main campus of the university (Raree), newly acquired crop research station of the university in Gurawa district, crop research station of the university in Fedis district, a demonstration site in a Farmers’ Training Centre (FTC) called Umar Kulle in Fedis district, and oil crops research station of the university in Babile district.

Farmers, officials from district administration and bureaus of agriculture, development agents, and researchers from Haramaya University as well as representatives of the Student Council of the university participated in the field days.

The field day was kicked off on the main campus of the university on 15 October 2015. Professor Dr. Nigussie Dechassa, Vice-President for Research Affairs, welcomed the field day participants. He then briefed them on the overall objectives of the three-day visits. He noted that the objective of the field days were to assess the performances of the university’s research and extension activities conducted during the past cropping season and to provide a platform for farmers, researchers, and other development stakeholders as well as to discuss on participatory research and technology transfer activities. He also remarked that the field day events were additionally aimed at creating public awareness on the achievements and future directions of research and technology exchange activities of the university

1 2

During the visit made to the university’s research site on the main campus on 15 October 2015, goat, poultry, and beef farms as well as crop research fields were observed and assessed. Sorghum, maize, common bean, potato, wheat, sesame, highland pulses (faba bean and field pea) were among the crops visited. The crop research activities underway were described by respective researchers/research team leaders.

Farmers raised different questions and showed keen interests in getting seeds of improved varieties adapted to their localities. Relevant answers were given by Professor Nigussie Dechassa and respective team leaders and researchers. It was noted during the discussion that the university would supply basic seeds to farmers who would want to start seed production and multiplication so that quality seeds could become locally available to as many farmers as possible for increasing crop yields and household income.

After the visit, a joint discussion was held and farmers raised critical issues related to shortage of seeds of improved crop varieties and animal breeds, widespread problem of spider mite on potato, diseases and insect pests of crops, marketing problems, and others related issues. In this connection, concerned researchers and office holders gave pertinent answers to the issues raised. It was stressed that farmers, the university’s researchers, bureaus of agriculture, agricultural research centers, zonal and district administrators, development agents, and other stakeholders should establish close working relationships to tackle existing as well as emerging agricultural problems through participatory research and technology exchange.

3 4

The day of 16 October 2015 was devoted to visiting the crop research activities of the university in Gurawa district at a recently acquired research station near the town of Gurawa, which is located at a distance of about 60 km from the main campus of the university in a south-westerly direction.
Mr. Teklemariam Keneni, a member of the technical and research staff member of the university’s Research and Extension Directorate, briefed the visitors on the type of research and demonstration activities underway at the station. The crops visited included potato (Bubu and Gudanie varieties), maize (BH 661 and Melkasa varieties), sorghum (Muyra variety), and wheat (seven wheat varieties, including Danda’a, Digalu, Hidassie, etc), field pea (Meti variety), faba bean (Gahanna variety), and others.

The Bubu potato variety was observed to be high yielding and resistant to the late blight disease, which invariably devastates local varieties of the crop. The maize maize BH 661 and Melkasa varieties were performing very well; the performance of the sorghum variety Muyra was also observed to be high, which was additionally appreciated by farmers for the sheer height (stature) of its stalk for meeting competing ends other than grain such as animal feed, construction of houses, source of energy as firewood, etc. The wheat variety Danda’a was described by farmers to be resistant to yellow rust. The performances of the pulses were evaluated to be good. The participants also observed a diffused-light potato store house being constructed by the university to serve as a model for farmers to preserve seed potato tubers in the future for enhancing availability of quality seed tubers in the area at planting.

5

Professor Nigussie Dechassa explained that the purpose of establishing that research sub-station in consultation with the Gurawa town administration was to test adaptability of improved crop and animal technologies to the agro-ecology of the area before disseminating them to farmers for production, since framers often believe what they see more than what they hear about. He also noted that the sub-station started work by testing and demonstrating improved crop varieties for participatory selection with farmers to adopt technologies and multiply quality seeds. Then farmers opined on the performances of the crops in comparison to that their local varieties. The farmers appreciated both improved potato varieties introduced by the university for agreeable taste, tuber size, shape, colour, earliness in maturity, disease resistance, drought tolerance, and high tuber yields. However, one farmer bemoaned that a 100 kg potato fetches merely Birr 300-400, on top of which middlemen compel them to pack additional mass of potato weighing about 50 kg with another sack sewn on the main sack, which they call ‘Gonfa”. Thus, he revealed that the amount of potato tubers farmers are compelled to sell for just 300-400 Birr as a 100 kg load is in reality 150 kg. They described this situation as extremely exploitative. Therefore, they suggested introduction of potato processing technologies that would add value to the tubers for fair and lucrative market for farmers, such as chip making; flour making, etc. In this connection, the farmers appreciated the efforts being made by the university to construct a model diffuse-light-store for preserving seed potatoes at the site for preservation until next rainy season.

Besides, the farmers urged the university to consider research and adaption trials on horticultural crops, like onion, cabbage, tomato, garlic, and similar others since they have variable agro- ecologies. After the field visit, there was a joint discussion among farmers and researchers on pertinent and burning issues related to sustainable crop and animal production.

A lady farmer requested the university to provide her and other farmers in the mid-lowland of the district with seeds of the improved sorghum as well as the other crop varieties demonstrated at the site. She added that the potato variety Bubu is a high yielder, producing about 36 tubers per hill and witnessed that the local variety they cultivate is very susceptible to late blight and succumbs to the devastating disease when cultivated in the rainy season. She said she was totally convinced that the improved potato variety is a very good option for the farmers to produce the crop.

A development agent stressed the severity of Striga problem on sorghum and maize and competition posed by the aggressive weed Parthenium against other vegetation. In this connection, he suggested research should be conducted on those weeds to seek appropriate methods of eliminating them from the area. Similarly, he raised the marketing problem of agricultural produces. He also gave plaudits to the University for accepting swiftly the request of pioneer inset growing farmers in the area for training them on how to process the plant for food. He indicated that the farmers that had cultivated enset for the first time in the history of the district were preparing food from the plant and consuming it at home.

6 7

Mr. Ibsa Mohammed, head of Gurawa Hospital, witnessed that Haramaya University did a lot to support the agriculture of the district as a whole and gave plaudits to the university for the multi-faceted supports it provided for the hospital. He revealed to the participants that the hospital raised its status of performance from 23rd ranked to 3rd ranked in the Zone because of the support. He suggested that the university should also do research in the area of public health similar to what it is doing in Qarsa district at its demographic centre.

Another commentator opined that farming communities should contribute to the mitigation efforts being exerted against the adverse effect of climate change through planting trees. In this connection, he also requested the university to do research on forestry and introduce adaptable multi-purpose tree species in the area to reforest the hills and mountains.

The team has then moved to Fedis site on 17 October 2015. The same day before lunch, the team has visited the 3rd and 4th research sites .The crops visited in districts included groundnut, common bean, mung bean, cow pea, maize and sorghum. Respective researchers and/or team leaders made the required explanations on the demonstrated crops.

Similarly, the participants visited an FTC demonstration site of Umar Kulle and observed maize, sorghum, wheat, groundnut, and sesame trials. Farmers liked the performance of the sorghum varieties as far as the high yield is concerned.

8

In a general discussion that followed the visits made to the Babile and Fedis research stations, a woman participant asked why the university does not do research on forage crops. Another person asked why the university does not consider using irrigation water for continuous crop and forage crop research year-round. Another person wanted to know whether fertilizer application is required at all for groundnut production. If the answer is “Yes”, he also wanted to know the type and rate of the specific fertilizer(s). The need for sewing machine for maize seed bagging and labeling was also raised by farmers.

Professor Nigussie Dechassa admitted that research hitherto done by the university on forage crops is scant, and suggested that should take home this assignment for the future.

Answering the question raised on the use of fertilizers for groundnut production, Professor Nigussie Dechassa, highlighted to the farmers that there would be burning effect if fertilizer is applied under the unfortunate condition of erratic rainfall and moisture stress; but when there is enough soil moisture/rainfall, he noted that the use of fertilizer (urea and DAP) is recommended for groundnut production Babile area given that the fertility of the soil is low. Further, he suggested the integrated use of mineral fertilizers (urea and DAP) with organic fertilizer such as manure would be best for enhancing productivity of the crop in the area.

9 10

Professor Chemeda Fininsa, acting president of Haramaya University, remarked that all issues raised and discussed were interesting. He added that farmers have to use improved technologies to enhance food production, such joint discussions should continue as a culture for the future to design and do fruitful research in a participatory approach. Finally, he thanked all of the field day participants and wished them safe journey back home. The three-day visit was wrapped up at 3:00 pm local time on 17 October 2015 at Babile research station.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

HTML tags are not allowed.