THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD Newspaper 24 April 2016: KOGA, Amhara State — Youth farmers involved in multiplying drought and rust resistant new wheat seed variety are benefiting.
Minaleh Agegnew, in his late 20s, is a resident of Kurmi Georgis Kebele of rural Gojam. He is landless. Together with his friends he rent a farmland at a cost of 3,000 Birr and started multiplying the improved wheat seed. They are engaged in crop production using Koga irrigation project.
Minaleh has been buying seeds from the project and multiply it and sell it to seed enterprise. He has proved that working with agriculture professionals is advantageous. In the last harvest season, for instance, pests and rust badly hit his sprout and he could not gain what he expected. Thanks to the advice of professionals, he has managed to address the problem through spraying pesticides. Though unable to supply for seed enterprises, he sold what was left to flour producing businesspersons.
According to Minaleh, they sow the new seed called king bird based on the advice of professionals. The yield and the capacity to resist disease is incomparable with the previous. He expects 15 quintals of seed at the end of April. “I will sell the output to the seed enterprises as per our deal. I am expecting 4,000-5,000 Birr minimum. Shortage of rain in the area does not stop them from developing the seed. Currently, he and his friends are multiplying seeds using Qoga irrigation project.
A 22-year-old young farmer in the same Kebele Semegnew Birhanu, has been engaged in multiplying various seed varieties on the land he rent at a cost of 3,000 Birr since 2012. Though the seedlings were damaged by pests, he did not give up. He said: “ I and my friend asked for help from development agents and spray pesticides. I have now harvested the ten quintal of new seed variety which is drought and rust resistant on half a hectare. He is hopeful that he would get better price for his wheat from seed enterprises.
Amhara State Agriculture Research Institute Qoga Dam Project Senior Agronomist Birru Ayalewon his part said that currently wheat, maize and onion multiplication is underway through irrigation in collaboration with farmers willing to engage in seed multiplication. Following the demand of farmers, efforts have been made to supply king bird wheat seed variety widely. The Ethiopian Seed Enterprise has been multiplying the seed over 200 hectares of land through Koga Irrigation Development. Similarly, Amhara Seed Enterprise is also multiplying the seed on over 500 hectares of land. According to the expert, the seed is ripe and ready for harvest. Some 40 quintals of yield per hectare is expected from the new seed variety. Some 12 farmer associations are now actively mobilizing farmers to engage in seed production. The enterprise has its own mechanism to check the quality of the seed. “We have distributed 600 quintals of seed. Currently, over 750 hectares of land has been covered with new seed variety and we expect to harvest up to 90,000 quintals.” Over 1,500 farmers are engaged in seed multiplication activities through Amhara and Ethiopian Seed Enterprises.Institute Technology Multiplication and Seed Research Director Dr. Abebe Atelaw said that 50 quintal of king bird seed was imported and distributed to 50 woredas last year. This year, the demand of farmers has increased. The seed has dual advantage as it is disease and drought resistant and grows fast in 90-100 days.Accroding to the Director, the Institute is multiplying the seed in Amahara, Oromia Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples States. There is a plan to distribute to other states. Some 500,000 quintals of seed is required at the national level.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW