Ethiopia has introduced a program to improve food security that combines scientific knowledge with local know how, as new community-based seed banks and training centers try to help farmers meet their basic needs and increase agricultural output. Joel Flynn reports.
STORY: For many Ethiopia is still associated with its deadly famine of the 1980s that killed more than 400,000 people. But now the country is one of the top performing economies in Africa, and looking to innovation to help it contribute to Africa's growing status as a food provider. Research coordinators like Habte Mida are helping train farmers there. SOUNDBITE: National Wheat And Sorghum Research Co-Ordinator, Habte Mida, saying (English): "We give them training how to produce for example this is a hybrid seed and it requires some precaution, so we give trainings to them. Basically, the things we provide to this private seed companies is training, enhancing their capacity to produce seeds and also initial seeds." The country has introduced a programme to improve food security that combines scientific knowledge and local know-how. New community-based seed bank and training centres are trying to help farmers meet their basic needs and increase overall agricultural output. Crops like Sorghum are being grown for grain as the whole continent makes a concerted effort to focus on food production. Nigeria's minister of agriculture, Akinwumi Adesinia, said the era of importing food in Africa must end. SOUNDBITE: Nigeria Minister Of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, saying (English): "65 percent of all the available arable land that will feed 9 billion people in our world by 2015, it is not in Latin America, it is not in Asia, it is not in Europe. It lies right here in Africa." In Ethiopia's Oromia State much faith is being put in small scale farming. That's according to Dr George Bigirwa. SOUNDBITE: Associate Programme Director for Programme for African Seed System (PASS), Dr. George Bigirwa, saying (English): "It is this small seed companies or local seed companies who are interested in producing seed or other varities which the multinationals don't touch." In less than a decade Ethiopia has emerged from a famine-ravaged economy to become the fifth largest in Africa. There's hope here that this could just be the seed of a brighter future for the whole continent.