Reaffirming an old alliance with Ethiopia for better natural resource management
Collaboration with Ethiopian institutes on systems-based research programs – including joint projects in soil fertility management, watershed management, dryland irrigation systems, rangeland management, nutrition and policy influence – were discussed during a recent visit to Ethiopia by Dr Peter Carberry, Director General, ICRISAT.
His visit coincided with the global meeting of the Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) CRP in Addis Ababa, hosted by ICRISAT Ethiopia.
During a field visit to Debre Birhan, a cool highland region about 200 km north of Addis Ababa, Dr Carberry and the WLE team deliberated on the necessity of watershed management, particularly in areas with variable rainfall, extreme erosion and low production and productivity despite the good soils and high rainfall availability.
Watershed management in uplands must consider erosion control, soil fertility improvement, sedimentation, vegetative cover, increased crop and forage productivity, improved water flows and overall upstream-downstream relationships. The major contribution of ICRISAT’s watershed work was to develop community-managed, resource-conserving, integrated watershed management learning sites, where a balance between production, conservation and environmental services and their implications for local communities is considered. For downstream communities, the highlands are major sources of water in the form of rivers, seasonal springs and floods that could be diverted towards irrigating crop fields and rangelands.
Although ICRISAT’s Ethiopia office opened only in 2014, it ICRISAT has been working together with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) for the last three decades. A conversation between Dr Mandefro Nigussie, Director General, EIAR, highlighted the increasing momentum of collaboration between the two institutions, which have jointly provided important information for policy making by serving on an advisory committee to the Ministry of Agriculture and other Ministries.
Going forward, a strong alliance is expected in the areas of crop improvement modernization, germplasm enhancement, strengthening the EIAR Biotech Lab and capacity building in data analytics, geospatial information systems and remote sensing.
Dr Carberry also met His Excellency, Mr Kebede Yimam, Deputy Commissioner of Ethiopia, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and discussed continual support to the government in developing resilient and productive landscapes using best-bet technologies and social arrangements at a scale, capitalizing on successful watershed experiences of ICRISAT in India.
Dr Peter Carberry visited the Ethiopia office during 28–30 November 2019. The WLE Global Meeting was during 26–28 November 2019.