Seed Fairs -Helping Each Other Grow
Demand for improved varieties ignited through Seed Fairs
In order to increase crop production and productivity, farmers in the Were Jarso district, Ethiopia, needed new seed varieties and the skill-sets to cultivate and harvest the different crops. The members of Farmer Field School groups were given improved wheat, teff, which has an attractive nutrition profile, being high in dietary fiber and iron and providing protein and calcium. Maize, potato and chickpea seeds that were distributed and demonstrated in large scale at field level. The performance of these seeds was found to be successful with an average yield doubling the gain from local varieties.
The Farmer Field School members wanted to promote and share the new knowledge and skills they had obtained with the success of these new seeds. They decided to have a seed fair. Government stakeholders as well as Farmer Field School members collaborated to organize the event. Farmers who participated in the fair were from five kebeles, or communities. They were invited to display their seeds, the new technologies and skills they had gained. Development agents, district level professionals, and private individuals were also invited to attend the event. Altogether, about 58 people were in attendants.
During the event, the improved seeds of teff, wheat, potato, maize and chickpea were displayed and explanations by farmers, who used the improved seeds, were presented to the audience. The seed users gave brief explanations about their seeds, followed by questions, and comments from the participants. Issues raised and discussed, regarding the seed technologies, included productivity, agronomic practices (raw planting, weeding, fertilizer application) and associated challenges. During the session, it was revealed that almost all crop varieties have registered a productivity of more than double compared to the local variety! The need to apply improved agronomic practices was greatly emphasized in order to combat challenges such as labour shortages, intensive weeding and erratic rainfall.
The participants were so excited and appreciated the importance of the seed fair. Participants left with a better understanding of the importance of planting a variety of seeds and implementing better agronomic practices for improved crops and community nutrition.