Increasing productivity by enhancing access to high-quality seed and mechanisation

Project description

Title: Supporting Sustainable Agricultural Productivity in Ethiopia (SSAP)
Commissioning Party: German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
Country: Ethiopia
Partner: Federal Plant Variety Office, KWS Saat SE & Co. KGaA, Gemeinschaft zur Förderung von Pflanzeninnovation e.V., Leibnitz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture
Overall term: 2015 to 2023



Ethiopia’s potential for agricultural production has not been fully utilised to date. Although agricultural production in Ethiopia could feed the population and generate additional income from exporting agricultural products, about ten million people remain dependent on regular food aid. The country is increasingly importing staple foods. Agricultural production falls short of its potential because farms with an average size of only 0.5 hectares in the highlands lack access to machinery, fertiliser and quality seed. Moreover, most farmers rarely use the most advantageous production methods.


The conditions for increasing agricultural productivity in Ethiopia have improved.



SSAP supports the following supplementary interventions:

Locally adapted seeds: Together with the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute and the German Gene Bank, the project is contributing towards the conservation of Ethiopia’s unique genetic resources. In collaboration with the company KWS Saat SE and the German Association of Plant Breeders GFPi, it assists the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) in breeding locally adapted barley varieties with improved traits to produce early generation seed (EGS). The project supports nine cooperatives in three regions of Ethiopia in producing certified seed from EGS and marketing it within these regions. As a member of the National Seed Advisory Group, and through cooperation with the German Federal Plant Variety Office, it works to elaborate and revise strategies and regulations for the seed sector. It also promotes the application of international standards in seed quality control and variety release.

Agricultural mechanisation: Since its opening in 2013, the Agricultural Training Centre in Kulumsa has provided practical training in farm machinery operation and cultivation methods that conserve soil fertility and lead to a long-term increase in productivity. On average, 600 farmers, machine operators, Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) teachers and students as well as unemployed youth take part in the training courses every year. The project also promotes agricultural mechanisation by providing field demonstrations and giving advice on policies and regulations related to agricultural mechanisation

Improving training capacities for farming cooperatives: The project is contributing towards transforming the Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training centre in Ardaita into a college for cooperatives, providing them with a permanent range of training courses. In collaboration with the Federal Cooperative Agency, it also engages in training trainers in five unions, who then train and advise their members.


  • The advice provided by the project on how to improve strategic legal framework conditions in collaboration with the German Federal Plant Variety Office contributed to the following:
    • Ratification of a national seed policy in 2020
    • Endorsement of a new proclamation on plant breeders’ rights in 2018 and submission of the related regulation to the Council of Ministers in January 2020
    • Approval of standards for quality declared seeds (17 crops)
  • The national and four regional seed laboratories now use improved equipment and apply at least two standards set by the International Seed Testing Association
  • A revised strategy including a business model to transform Ardaita ATVET into a national cooperative college is available
  • The Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI) stores 32 per cent of the gene bank collection or 17,038 accessions in a new cold room that complies with international standards for long-term conservation
  • EBI has regenerated 64 endangered fava bean accessions
  • EIAR has increased fourfold the number of effective crosses made annually in barley breeding and cut the breeding time for a new variety by 30 per cent. As a result, newly introduced quantitative breeding parameters have significantly improved
  • 1,300 farmers organised into nine seed-producer cooperatives have increased their annual production of barley and wheat seeds from 600 (2016) to 1,200 tons per year. As a result, about 64,000 farmers are supplied with improved seeds
  • ATC was officially handed over to EIAR on 3 December 2020. Hence, from 16 January 2021 onwards, EIAR will operate the training centre
  • ATC provided training and demonstration to 5,243 trainees (tractor operators, mechanisation service providers, ATVET teachers, college students and 80 unemployed youth, etc.)
  • In 2019, ATC was accredited as an assessment centre for farm machinery operators for level I-IV and as a tractor driving school
  • 90 per cent of unemployed youth (72 trainees) trained in tractor operation have found employment


Last update: December 2020