Farmers’ sorghum field day held in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Field Day Picture Nov 2010 590

Farmers’ sorghum field day held in Ethiopia

The ICRISAT-HOPE project in Ethiopia aims to increase dryland sorghum productivity in Western Hararge and North Wollo of Ethiopia. Sirinka Agricultural Research Centre (SARC) organized a farmers’ field day in Kobo, North Wollo Zone, Amhara State, Ethiopia on 12 November 2010 in collaboration with ICRISAT-ESA.

Ninety-eight farmers (20% of whom were women), 7 development agents, 7 local experts in extension education, input supply, cooperative union and agronomy, 10 scientists and technicians (including Mr Yosef Ghawaryat, Director of Crops Research; and Mr Zinabu Legese, Director, SARC), Mary Mgonja and Patrick Audi from ICRISAT-ESA participated in the field day.

At the introductory meeting held in the Catholic Church hall before visiting on-farm PVS field trials, Mr Yosef, on behalf of Director SARC, highlighted the great potential that the project has in improving sorghum productivity and food security in North Wollo Zone. He also highlighted the significance of building strong partnerships for identification and delivery of suitable technologies.

Mary Mgonja, having driven 500 km from Addis Ababa to Kobo on the eve of the field day, said that she was highly impressed by the 350 km continuous stretch of mainly brown and chalky white sorghum fields from Debre-Sina to Kobo. She also noted that the sorghum cultivars grown were local and that the project has the opportunity to deliver high-yielding, earlier-maturing (to counteract the constraint of frequent drought) and Striga-resistant varieties with farmer preferred cooking and market qualities.

The 98 farmers were split into 5 groups (3 male groups, one mixed group, one female group) for participatory variety selection (PVS). Of the 9 varieties in the PVS trial, 3 were selected as most preferred because they produced high yields. Additionally, Misikr was preferred for good food qualities, especially for making injera, while Girana-1 and Hormat/ICSV 1112 BF were preferred for good brewing qualities and for Striga resistance, respectively.

Following the PVS, farmers participated in blind culinary taste evaluation of injera (the most important staple food in Ethiopia made from sorghum and/or teff) made from various percentages

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of sorghum flour. Boiled sorghum and porridge were also prepared. The most preferred variety for injera, boiled sorghum and porridge was Misikr, and farmers were excited with the prospects of accessing the seeds of the preferred varieties for sowing in the next season. The enthusiasm and expectations of the farmers after the field day was heartening.

In conclusion, improved sorghum varieties that are high yielding, have good cooking qualities for injera, are resistant to Striga and are early maturing have the greatest probability for adoption by the farmers in Kobo.