Mapping of status quo in relation to regenerative inclusive food systems (RIFS) and living labs (LL) in Ethiopia and the study regions.
In 2021 we collected primary and secondary data about innovations/initiatives/projects/policies in relation to regenerative inclusive food systems (RIFS) and living labs (LL) in Ethiopia (national report) and the study regions (Tepi report, South Achefer report). We hold several interviews with key informants and focus group discussions with smallholder farmers. We equally performed desk research through online resources and literature. The aim was to sketch the status quo and define entry points to connect to in our upcoming study living labs towards regenerative inclusive food systems.
Ethiopia has designed and implemented multifaceted development policies and strategies to overcome the overarching challenges of poverty and food insecurity. Agricultural industrialization with the only aim to increase productivity is a prevailing discourse. While regenerative inclusive food system are conveyed in most of the policies and strategies of Ethiopia but the implementation lags behind. However, the famers’ indigenous knowledge is well aligned with the practices and principles of regenerative agriculture despite further needs for co-creation and technical backstopping for optimization and collaborations across the food system. The ten years’ focus of most respondent’s institution is to embrace more of conservation and regenerative agricultural practices. As points of attention we detected so far: brokering knowledge and facilitating interaction at various levels and among various stakeholders, breaking organizational silos to improve innovation, and bringing marginalized actors more into the decision making and agenda setting.
Regionally, we identified a number of regenerative agricultural practices that include zero tillage/ minimum tillage, crop diversification, intercropping, agroforestry practices, crop rotation, mulching, composting, and forest conservation and tree planting. Black pepper innovation is disseminated through both formal and informal ways but the involvement of stakeholders is very low. Major challenges of black pepper innovation include poor adoption of modern technology, shortage of planting materials (absence of dedicated nurseries), limited variety portfolio, traditional processing practices, lack of access to market and information asymmetry, and lack of information exchange opportunities. In South Achefer, innovator farmers have adopted a farming system in line with intensification recommendations to lift outputs and income to another level. Yet, in general, not only farmers but also the extension service has limited access and exposure to best practices and reasons for regenerative inclusive food systems. Knowledge and cooperation gaps include issues of access to and choice of inputs, market participation, food processing, and food preparation.