Validation in REALISE refers to testing and identifying improved agricultural practices (on crops, animal and natural resource) that fit the context of PSNP clients in their local settings and respond to their needs. The improved practices, which have been developed and recommended by different programmes and agricultural research institutions for different settings, are tested along with local practices to generate evidences on local adaptation and the benefit that can be obtained. Besides, participatory variety selection (PVS) also falls under validation trial.
The programme stratified its intervention woredas into research and scaling woredas. Practices are tested and identified 10 research woredas and scaled up into 50 scaling woredas and other places with similar bio-physiscal and socio-economic conditions. There 10 research woredas are Emba Alaje and Saese Tseda Emba in Tigray, Habru, Wadla, Libo Kemikem and Enebisie Sar Midir in Amhara, Sire, Meta and Kombolcha in Oromia and Silti in South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).
Integrated validation protocol, which was developed by CASCAPE and adapted by REALISE, will provide practical guidelines for validation of best-fit practices but not meant to replace more detailed evaluations. Data on productivity, profitability, acceptability, gender, nutrition, environmental sustainability and climate resilience are collected following the protocol. The indicators used in this guide provide an overall impression of the performance of a technology
Drought is one of the main threats to Ethiopians losing their yield and ending up in food insecure situations. Therefore, the crops that REALISE will introduce have to be able to resist to/tolerate a certain level of drought. Improving soil organic matter and in-situ water management also practices promoted by REALISE to contribute to a better production under low-moisture stress for improved resilience.
Profitability analysis is performed following the procedures developed by CIMMYT (1988). It is to be noted that unless we have clear costs that vary, it is not important to carry out profitability analysis. However, if the input costs (e.g. fertilizer, labour, seed, etc.) vary, profitability analysis is an important element of the integrated validation of technologies.
The REALISE programme mainly identifies practices that, in general, contribute to increased food production but also pursues nutrition sensitive agriculture in the form of home gardens introducing fruit and vegetables in each cluster. In the validation process, however, contribution of the practices to nutrition will be assessed.
In most areas in rural Ethiopia, both male and female members of the farm household are involved in various types of farm activities. Newly introduced technologies and practices may require more (family) labour with a heavy work burden on women. Therefore, to evaluate the gender balance in newly introduced technologies is to assess the labour contribution of male and female members of the household.
Farmer preference ranking is one of the methods to assess acceptability of innovations. It is used for validating or evaluating the acceptability of existing technology and also for designing technology development. Use of preference ranking for technology validation involves asking several farmers (minimum of 10 farmers: 5 males and 5 females in REALISE) to rank from best to least an already available set of technological options (such as treatments in an on-farm trial) in order to find out which option the farmers find most acceptable.
For environment we selected two indicators (proxies) for performance of best-fit practices: pesticide use and soil NPK balance. Pesticide which are legally registered for use in Ethiopia will be used taking into consideration WHO classification on the level of hazardousness. WHO toxicity classification: Class Ia: extremely hazardous; Class Ib: highly hazardous; Class II: moderate hazardous; Class III: slightly hazardous; Class U: unlikely to be hazardous and NL: not listed. Pesticide classified as class 1a or 1b are excluded and should not be used because they are too dangerous for us. NPK balance will be an optional in the REALISE programme.
Yields based on the type of crop or livestock intervention will be measured. Procedure of analysis of variance (ANOVA) is usually used for comparing yields and identifying the statistical significance.