Promoting productivity through expertise, organisation and high-quality seed

Project description

Title: Supporting Sustainable Agricultural Productivity in Ethiopia (SSAP)
Commissioning Party: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
Country: Ethiopia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture
Overall term: 2015 to 2021



Large parts of Ethiopia have very a favourable climate for agricultural production, especially in the highlands. Yet this potential is far from being fully realised. Although agricultural production in Ethiopia could actually feed the population and generate additional income from exporting agricultural products, ten million people remain dependent on regular food aid.

The country is increasingly importing staple foods. Favourable climatic conditions are not being used because farms, the majority of which are only small, have hardly any access to machinery, fertiliser and seed. Moreover, farmers do not use the most advantageous production methods. As a result, yields are low even by African standards.


The conditions for increasing agricultural productivity have improved.



Achieving an increase in agricultural yields requires expertise, organisation and high-quality seed. The project is working in the following areas, with the aim of making sufficient quantities of resistant, high-yield seed available at affordable prices. Farmers learn the proper way of using farm machinery and gain a knowledge of modern land management. Farming cooperatives enhance their management skills.

To this end, the project is working together with Ethiopian research, adult education and public administration institutions, helping them to forge links with strong partners from the German private sector, cooperatives and the public sector.

Locally adapted seed: Working together with the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, the project is committed to the conservation of genetic resources. It assists the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research in breeding locally adapted seed. The project is helping nine smallholder cooperatives in the regions of Tigray, Amhara and Oromia to reproduce certified, locally adapted seed and to market it within these regions. Moreover, as a member of the National Seed Advisory Group, the project supports the development of strategies and the definition of rules for producing seed and certifying varieties. The project promotes the application of international standards in seed monitoring.

Using farm machinery: Since opening in 2013, the Agricultural Training Center in Kulumsa has been teaching people about the benefits of agricultural mechanisation. Each year, around 900 farmers and agricultural experts take part in the training courses. The training centre provides practical training in using farm machinery and applying adapted cultivation methods that conserve soil fertility and lead to a long-term increase in productivity.

Strengthening farming cooperatives: The agricultural training centre in Ardaita is to be converted into a training centre for cooperatives while at the same time also training lecturers, thus providing a permanent range of training courses for cooperatives. In collaboration with the Federal Cooperative Agency (FCA), an appraisal procedure has been developed, by means of which the FCA monitors and assesses the management of the 80,000 or so farming cooperatives.


  • In its new cold room, the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute stores genetic material from plants in accordance with international standards. The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research is using this material to breed new barley varieties that combine a higher yield with a greater resistance to diseases. Today, the governmental research institute can more quickly develop the specific new varieties that are needed to achieve a permanent increase in yield.
  • The seed cooperatives that are being supported sell 1,100 tonnes of certified cereal seed each year, thereby improving the supply of seed while at the same time increasing their incomes. The dynamics of private companies could lead to an even greater improvement in availability. The strategy document for the transformation of the seed sector, which was presented in the summer of 2019 by the National Seed Advisory Group, has provided an opening in this direction.
  • The FCA now performs regular audits at half of the legally competent cooperatives each year. These audits help the cooperatives to improve their organisation and financial management. The short courses in accounting, marketing and management that the Ardaita vocational school recently began to provide for cooperatives also contribute here.
  • In various agricultural service companies, graduates of the ATC now provide services for small farmers who cannot afford to purchase their own machinery. These ATC graduates are also helping public-sector businesses and agricultural research centres, ensuring that farm machinery is used and maintained in the proper manner.