Crops Crowdsourcing in Ethiopia

A way to sustainable agricultural production, climate resilience, and improved household nutrition and income

The Added Value of This Article

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Value add for readers

  • The article not only highlights economic benefits but also emphasizes the broader positive impacts on environmental sustainability, household nutrition, and the empowerment of key stakeholders, providing readers with a perspective on sustainable agriculture.
Photo: © Hailu Terefe

Bioversity International, alongside partners Oromia Seed Enterprise, Bahir Dar University, and Wageningen University, is scaling up more than 20 locally adapted and productive varieties of four important crops in Ethiopia: durum wheat, faba bean, chickpea, and finger millet. More than 106,000 farmers in Ethiopia are already benefitting from it.

Photo: © Dejene Kassahun

The project, titled “Upscaling Access to Crowdsourcing winner Seed Varieties and Embedding Crowdsourcing in Ethiopian System as Delivery Mechanism for a more Dynamic, Diverse, and Market Responsive Seed Portfolio” is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the Fund International Agricultural Research (FIA), is showing promising results.

Main achievements

Increased varietal portfolio

A varietal portfolio of the adopter farmers was increased by at least 25% for durum wheat and finger millet, to 100% for faba bean and chickpea. The production of these pulses had been abandoned by farmers because of various disease pressures. Adopting disease-resistant varieties and sowing time adjustment enabled farmers to resume growing these crops and ensure variety.

Increased productivity and income

Upscaled varieties of chickpea, faba bean, durum wheat, and finger millet resulted in 26%, 67%, 10%, and 56% more yield than growing the other alternative, respectively. The estimated return on investment for this project is significant: USD 1,375 return for USD 1 invested.

Improved environmental safety and land sustainability

Chemical inputs use has been reduced by 50% as the upscaled varieties are resistant to diseases and perform better on poor soils, reducing agriculture’s negative impact on the environment. The crop rotation of cereals with the enhanced pulses varieties improved soil fertility as well as its other properties.

Household nutrition and diet are diversified

Over 490,000 people, about half being women and girls, have access to healthy and nutritious foods, thanks to the newly adopted varieties.

Capacity building

Farmers, seed producer cooperatives, and regional agricultural research centers have improved their skills and knowledge on quality seed production and marketing and concepts of crowdsourcing.

Reference documents

  • Mengistu, DK., Devera, I. Jarvis and Carlo Fadda. 2022. Participatory Diagnostic Toolkits and Crop Improvement Approaches: Participatory Methods to Assess and Use Plant Genetic Diversity in the Field. Bioversity International, MIMESIS EDIZIONI SRL, Rome, Italy. ISBN 978-88-5758-XXX-X.
  • Nigir, B., Gebrehawaryat, Y., Tilahun, M., Fadda, C., Mekonnen, K., Gebreyes, M. and Zerfu, E. 2023. Extension module: Crowdsourcing seed-based innovations to improve diversity, nutrition and crop productivity.


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