The REALISE programme engages in the validation, demonstration and pre-scaling of agricultural technologies and practices (so-called best-fit practices) that have the potential to increase agricultural production and productivity. The programme works to identify and validate improved practices that fit the context of PSNP clients who are chronically food insecure and respond to their needs for meaningful contribution to agricultural production and productivity and improvement of their food security. It can thus reduce households’ food gap and increase their resilience. Best practices identified by different programmes, NGOs and agricultural research systems in different bio-physical and socio-economic settings are available to address productivity constraints. These technologies will be matched with the conditions of PSNP and validated for local adaptation. Matching refers to finding a match for suitability to agro-ecologies and between the perceived needs of diverse groups (such as women, men, younger and elder farmers) and available practices for validation.
The validated best practices are demonstrated to farmers under their own situations. Pre-scaling is conducted to document processes on scalability to be incorporated to the scaling strategy.
REALISE started with more number of activities on demonstration than on validation and pre-scaling activities. The programme will make sure that women’s needs are taken into account while deciding on which practices to promote and where. The programme will map the areas where validated practices can be most successfully scaled and the programme will work with woreda staff to include the practices in the woreda agriculture development plans.
- Market linkage facilitated
- Farmer field days organized
- Extension materials (posters, brochures) prepared
- Pilot groups formed/established for uptake best practices
- Best fit practice manuals are developed for use by extension staff
- Soil maps are developed and incorporated in the recommendation maps
- Participatory capacity and vulnerability analysis reports are used in diagnostic and planning of REALISE intervention
- Existing best fit practices and best practices of other organizations are validated, of which at least 30% of the best fit practices match the needs of female farmers
- Time and labour saving technologies
- Home-gardens with nutrition-dense foods
- Low cost soil fertility management with less use of external inputs
- Early maturing crop varieties (maize, sorghum, teff, wheat, haricot bean, etc.), which can escape terminal low-moisture stress, with improved crop management
- Small-scale poultry enterprise for off-farm income generation
- Fruit tree nurseries (e.g. papaya Maradol variety best fit practice as validated in Tigray)
- Small ruminant (sheep and goat) fattening for both resilience improvement and off-farm income generation
- Working with youth groups on improved technologies for hill top restoration and/or tree plantations on steep slopes
Demonstration in REALISE is showing the merits of the validated agricultural practices on-farm, as an alternative to the existing practices, to the farmers and relevant stakeholders. On-farm demonstration allows farmers and stakeholders to evaluate the relative importance of the practice and also enable to learn and get knowledge about the practices. Demonstration of improved agricultural practices (crop varieties/animal breeds with their management practices) is widely undertaken under the practice pathway. Under demonstration, bigger plot (0.125 to 0.25m2) than for validation trials is used.
Practices that are demonstrated are based on farmers’ demand and strong participation is expected throughout the process of demonstration. Relevant stakeholders including department of agricultural extension, agricultural research institutes, programmes and NGOs are involved so that they are part of the evaluation and learning process. REALISE plays the facilitation role in involving the stakeholders who will scale up the demonstrated practices.
Training is provided by the programme experts to development agents and implementing farmers on the implementation of demonstrations. Improved and early maturing varieties (of maize, sorghum, wheat, barley, haricot bean, etc.) are demonstrated in comparison with local practices. Agronomic data, farmers’ preferences and stakeholders’ feedback on the relative merits of the practices/technologies are collected, analyzed and interpreted. Practices that prove to have convincing benefit to the farmers at demonstration are then piloted using pre-scaling approach.