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Agro-Forestry & Environmental Management Study Visit to Ethiopia

PENHA and Ethio-Feed Plc, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Environment & Forest Research Institute, organised a study trip to Ethiopia for the Ministry of Environment & Rural Development (MoERD) of Somaliland during August-September 2016.

The rationale for the study trip, with a learning and capacity building dimension, was to exploit the great scope for collaboration and exchange between Somaliland and Ethiopia. The two face similar environmental challenges, while Ethiopia is far ahead in terms of institutional development and policy formulation. This study tour for technical officers in the area of forestry is part of ongoing efforts to build the capacity of Somaliland’s Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, with support from the Somaliland Development Fund (SDF). The aim of the study visit was to learn from Ethiopian practice and policy in agro-forestry and environmental management. Institutional structures, private sector and community participation were identified as central. Of particular interest were fodder and forage seed production, and the utilization of Prosopis Juliflora.

The study visit enabled the participants to see at first hand the practice of agro-forestry and environmental governance in Ethiopia, which possesses a variety of related institutions, with highly qualified staff. There is an enviable breadth and depth of human resources. Governmental bodies collaborate with the universities and regulate private actors. The visit included public and research institutions, the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI), the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, the Wood Technology Research Centre, the Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources; as well as, from the private sector,   Ethio-Feed Plc, the Mulu Dairy, the Munessa Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise, Eden Field Agri-Seed Enterprise, the Natural Gum Processing and Marketing Enterprise and the Debre Birhan Wood Processing Enterprise. In addition, visits to Menagesha Suba Forest Park and the Born Free Foundation showed how it is possible to integrate environmental management and conversation with eco-tourism, in ways that can be commercially sustainable.

Facilitators took participants through an assessment of the experience, in which they identified outcomes and put forward recommendations for follow-up. In line with expectations, significant outcomes included:

  • A core group of MoERD staff able to take forward new initiatives
  • Exposure to best practice for a range of natural resources interventions
  • Enhanced awareness among the group of mechanisms for public/community forest conservation
  • Meeting Ethiopian counterparts and sharing knowledge/experience
  • Engagement with Ethiopian governmental and private institutions, with contacts established and a basis for future collaboration

There are two particularly promising areas for collaboration.

Collaboration on animal feeds for livestock markets & drought resilience: Possibilities here include training and capacity support as well as active partnerships in the production of quality and affordable animal feed, using locally available agro-industrial bi-products. A range of feeds would be developed to serve the export-oriented livestock trade in Somaliland, and also to help core breeding stock to survive and recover from drought.

Collaboration on forest & forage seed production: Here there is scope for training as well as the provision of suitable forest and forage seeds that have significant survival rates and productivity in different Somaliland ecosystems.  A joint assessment should consider future partnerships in forest and forage seed production and marketing.

Five members of staff at the MoERD of Somaliland, namely Abdulkarim Aaden Omer (Deputy Director), Hibo Ibrahim Hashi (Capacity Development Officer), Mohamed Yusuf Mohamed (Forest and Rangeland Department Director), Amoun Ali Haybe (Community Development Officer) and Daud Egeh Ali (Soil and Water Conservation Officer), will form a nucleus equipped to take forward new initiatives.

The overall planning and coordination work was carried out by Dr. Tafesse Mesfin of PENHA and Beruk Yemane of Ethio-Feed Plc and PENHA, in collaboration with Dr. Agena Anjulo of EEFRI. Together, they designed a two-week structured training course, with visits to selected governmental institutions and private organizations. Amsale Shibeshi, PENHA’s Hargeisa-based Regional Coordinator, oversaw the process from Somaliland, liaising with MoERD staff.

report summary, from which this content is extracted, was produced by Beruk Yemane (Ethio-Feed Plc/PENHA) and John Livingstone (PENHA). If you are interested to read the detailed report please click here.