Haramaya University in collaboration with the International Potato Center (CIP) conducted an inception workshop to launch a project titled “Development and Delivery of Biofortified Crops at Scale (DDBIO) on October 31, 2019 at the University’s Resource Center.
The launching workshop was started with the warm welcoming remarks made by the Acting Vice President for Research Affairs of the University, Mr Admikew Haile.

Dr. Jemal Yousuf, Haramaya University Acting President, in his opining speech pointed out that 40% of the population in Ethiopia is malnourished necessitating urgent collaborative action of partners in agriculture and nutrition sectors. Considering the significance of malnutrition problem in the region, and the fact that the project targets to benefit the most vulnerable groups (women of child-bearing age, adolescent girls, and children under five) using biofortified sweetpotato through multi-sectoral engagement, he commended the new project to be well-informed with regard to the keys that underpin to break the cycle of under nutrition.
Dr Jemal extended his gratitude to CIP for deciding to expand its research and outreach services to eastern Ethiopia and the collaboration initiative it has taken to work with Haramaya University and other development and humanitarian partners operating in the region. Dr Jemal has assured CIP and all implementing partners that the University is fully committed to provide all support needed to make this project successful.

CIP Country Director, Dr Berga Lemaga, on his part highlighted the role of CIP in potato and sweetpotato research and development in Sub-Saharan countries including Ethiopia. He further stressed about the relevance of the project to eastern Ethiopia where malnutrition and recurrent drought are critical problems affecting millions of people in the fragile region.

Dr Dandena Gelmesa, lecturer and ISSD project regional unit manager at HU, on his part presented an overview of sweetpotato production and utilization in Eastern Ethiopia highlighting the key bottlenecks and opportunities for scaling and commercializing the crop in the region. Dr Dandena further added sweetpotato is one of a strategy food security, stable, insurance, and emergency crop for farmers in the region with multiple benefits as food, feed and income sources.

On a similar note, Dr. Setegn Gebeyehu, Sweetpotato Program Coordinator based at CIP Ethiopia office in Addis Ababa, presented DDBIO project objectives and deliverables. He indicated that the project targets to benefit 1.25 million women of child-bearing age, adolescent girls, and children under five in Ethiopia using two delivery models: commercial partnership and protracted crisis environments.
During the dissection, the participants have agreed that Haramaya University takes the lead role in the development and delivery of biofortified sweetpotato varieties suitable for the diverse agro-ecology and farming system of the region whereas government sector offices at zonal and district levels facilitate training of different target groups (extension officers, farmers, women, etc.) in the areas of nutrition, sweetpotato production and utilization. Apart from including OFSP in their existing relief, nutrition and livelihood programs, Farmers’ Cooperative Unions, NGOs and relief organizations will play a pivotal role in the supply and distribution of OFSP planting materials among households in both potential and protected crises environments.

A total of thirty-eight participants representing research (Haramaya University, Fedis ARC), government sector offices of East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromia Region, Harari and Dire Dawa City Council (Agriculture and Natural Resource Development, DRM, Health, and Women and Children Affairs Offices), NGOs and relief organizations operating in the region (CARE, HCS, MercyCorps, GOAL Ethiopia, World Vision Ethiopia, UN-OCHA) and Farmers’ Cooperative Unions participated in the meeting.

The launching workshop was concluded with the closing remark made by Mr. Admikew Haile, acting Vice President for Research Affairs of Haramaya University and Mr Alemayehu Kelbessa, Agricultural Extension team leader of East Hararghe Zone Agriculture and Natural Resource Development Office. Mr Admikew reemphasized about the importance and relevance of the project to address the malnutrition and food security problems prevalent in the region and urged all stakeholders to actively engage and contribute their part for the success of the project. He reiterated the commitment of the university in availing the necessary resources and facilities required to implement the research and outreach activities.
Similarly, on behalf of government sector offices, the extension team leader of East Hararghe zone pledged to provide all the necessary support and facilitation required to implement the planned activities that aimed at improving the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable communities who mostly live in an environment that is prone to natural and manmade disasters.