Haramaya University Contributes its Share to Meet Demands for Food in Ethiopia.

Haramaya University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences conducted a three-day training (October 20–22, 2023) to 35 trainees at the resource center.

While the training was on climate-smart soil nutrient and water management in crop production, the trainees were selected from Maya City’s agricultural office, Haramaya University teachers and researchers, and post-graduate students.

The financial support for this training and other similar activities was obtained from AICCRA, a project that works to prevent and reduce the effects of climate change, and the winner of a project competition held by the African Regional Forum of Universities (RUFORUM). Such financial support was started after three African Universities, including Haramaya University, won the project competition as the project works in this way.

Dr. Zelalem Bekeko, the Dean of Haramaya University’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Science, said that a growing global population and changing diets are driving up the demand for food. Production is struggling to keep up as crop yields level off in many parts of the world, ocean health declines, and natural resources, including soils, water, and biodiversity, are stretched dangerously. The challenge is intensified by agriculture’s extreme vulnerability to climate change. The negative impacts of climate change are already being felt in the form of increasing temperatures, weather variability, shifting agro-ecosystem boundaries, invasive crops, and pests.

Dr. Zelalem added that climate-smart nutrient and water management are keys towards vertical productivity enhancement to meet the ever-growing food demand of the world population under a changing climate scenario. Low and erratic rainfall, a high evaporation rate, and the limited water holding capacity of surface soil are the main constraints in agricultural production. Besides, as the worst environmental degradation, starvation, famine, and loss of life, the “environment syndrome” challenges need handling with caution and are weighed against our needs, ability, and capacity to sustain livelihoods. Hence, the proper utilization of the available soil and water resources is essential for agricultural development and the achievement of food security.

Thus, developing modules to train agricultural experts and other stakeholders is crucial. Accordingly, the training that is given to agricultural experts and other stakeholders is focused on ways to improve climate change-resilient agriculture production because the current climate change is affecting soil fertility and water levels, and as a result, agricultural production is seriously affecting and decreasing. In order to reduce the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector, efforts are being made to deal with and include the concept of climate change in the curriculum of research and agricultural education, according to Dr. Zelalem.

Mr. Tasisa Temesgen, teacher and researcher at Haramaya University College of Agriculture and Environmental Science and trainer of the trainees, said that, as it is obviously known, global climate change is increasing from time to time, which affects the health and food security of human beings and animals as well as plants. When climate changes; soil fertility, water, and rainfall amounts decrease simultaneously, and the amount of agricultural production also declines. Consequently, the concept of climate-smart soil, nutrient, and water management in crop production is needed to change the situation. That is why it has become important to provide training for agricultural officers and teachers. The training assists in distributing knowledge of climate-smart soil nutrient and water management in crop production in the community because it consists of the concept of how to resist climate change by conserving soil fertility, wisely using the available small amount of water or rainfall, and increasing agricultural products to manage food security problems.

The trainees, in turn, said that the training was really important and that the delivery of the training was also interesting. They said that they obtained additional understanding on climate-smart soil nutrient and water management concepts in crop production because climate change has become a serious issue, especially for the agricultural sector. It intensifies the drought and the decline of agricultural products, which causes famine and starvation. Therefore, it is important to share the knowledge gained from the training with the farmers about how to increase agricultural products by conserving soil fertility and using a small amount of available water or rainfall, according to Mr. Sisay Kasahun, the agricultural officer, Mrs. Chaltu Megersa, the teacher, and Mr. Tefera Teshome, a PhD student.

Reporter: Aweke Ayalneh

Photograph: Fuad Ahmed