Improving the food security of Ethiopia through geosciences

Chernet Tegist, (English) Senior Research Scientist

Along with an ever increasing population, the vast soil degradation due to soil acidity causing insufficient crop production appears to be a substantial challenge facing Ethiopia. Based on lessons learned and experiences gained from a previous project (2014-2015), this project is scaling up the lime resource survey and farm trials focusing on the Oromia Region, which is most severely affected. Most of the farms and pastoral lands, where 85 to 90% of the population resides, are affected by moderate to strong soil acidity and became one of the major causes of poor crop performance. The problem has been growing in scope and intensity and there is a need for an urgent solution for minimizing of its adverse impact and fostering of its contribution to the country’s food security and poverty eradication efforts.

The overall objective of the project was parallel to the long-term goal of the Ethiopian government to support the mineral and agricultural sectors development as a substantial potential to increase the productivity of agricultural land, improve the food and nutrition security. The project was mainly focusing on institutional strengthening by transferring knowledge/ technology with the following specific objectives:

  1. Mapping and evaluating targeted carbonate resources of the region that is essential for the reclamation of acidic soils for improved grain production.
  2. Determine balanced application of lime and P-fertilizer by undertake long-term farm trials on selected target areas not only for increasing productivity but also for reducing the environmental burden.
  3. Institutional capacity building that includes concurrent training of selected experts and extension service personnel and upgrading Geological Survey of Ethiopia and Oromia Agricultural Research Institute respective laboratories by providing adequate instruments.
  4. Addressing and promotes development of modern technology based efficient lime production and distribution system, and raising the interest of public and private investment.
  5. Strengthening inter institutional cooperation, linkage and information sharing between the agriculture and the mineral sectors in order to address the country food security agenda which faces interrelated challenges.

Furthermore, the project implementation was encouraging the participation of women and the younger generation, and adding awareness of geosciences as a key issue for sustainability. Geological Survey of Ethiopia and the Oromia Agricultural Research Institute are the project’s immediate beneficiaries as the activities and outcomes form part of the institutions’ statutory functions. Other beneficiaries include the Ethiopians farmers who can easily adapt a balanced usage of lime and fertilizers to increase crop production. Not only their production will increase but also the costs of the raw materials will drastically be reduced when cheaper lime is replacing unnecessary high amounts of expensive fertilizers.

During previous project (2014-2015), geoinformation on selected carbonate resources was documented and made public for use as required by stakeholders. Encouraging results were recorded from the farm trials giving a basis for additional tests towards the development of proper recommendations for soil amendment for the region. A notable input was connected to strengthening of the human and technical resources in both institutions. The project opened the doors for active communication and joint development cooperation between the two major public sectors by bringing together geoscientists, soil scientists and related stakeholders. It created awareness on transparency and access to information. After studying agricultural lime production facilities, the project has also been promoting proper production in respect of strategies, scientific approaches and technologies.

The Project’s full name is Improving the Food Security of Ethiopia: Assessment of Carbonate Rock Resources for Acid Soil Amendment and Balanced Application of Lime and Fertilizers in Oromia Region, Ethiopia, and it is implemented during 2016-2018, and the project partners are the Geological Survey of Ethiopia, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and the Oromia Agricultural Research Institute. the prject is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland with a total budget of 0.7€.

Chernet Tegist

Teksti: Chernet Tegist

(English) Dr. Chernet Tegist is the project manager of the Project "Improving the Food Security of Ethiopia: Assessment of Carbonate Rock Resources for Acid Soil Amendment and Balanced Application of Lime and Fertilizers in Oromia Region, Ethiopia".