KKL-JNF and Fair Planet in Ethiopia – Seeds of Hope

Sunday, August 10, 2014 9:50 AM

KKL-JNF and Fair Planet collaborate in providing high quality tomato seeds to farmers in eastern Ethiopia, which can thrive under semi-arrid conditions.

An open day for the Fair Planet and KKL-JNF Seeds of Hope for Eastern Ethiopia project took place in May 2014 at the Haramaya University in Ethiopia, where Hiruy Amare, Director of the KKL-JNF Golani Nursery in northern Israel, evoked great appreciation among the participant when he spoke in English and in Amharic about the work being done by KKL-JNF and the Fair Planet Project.

Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The open day showcased the Seeds of Hope project for Eastern Ethiopia, which aims to provide small-holder farmers with resilient high-quality tomato seeds suitable to semi-arid lands. The day was a great success, with more than 75 invited guests including participants from local agricultural ministries and agricultural cooperatives, farmers, research scientists and other professionals from Haramaya University, and local media personnel. The guests visited the tomato variety trial plots, received professional explanations, and saw the excellent results of the specialized species in the field compared to the local species. Later in the day, there were lectures for the participants in the university’s seminar building.

Ethiopian farmers. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Fair Planet is a social start-up that was founded in 2011 by Dr. Shoshan Haran, whose mission is to address the lack of quality seeds for smallholder farmers in developing countries. Fair Planet identifies varieties suitable for the target region, provides geo-specific agro-training for local farmers and will offer seeds to local farmers, with credit, for the first growing seasons. Access to high-quality seeds suitable to local conditions will enable these farmers to grow and sell significant yields. This will allow additional income along with greater food security and improved nutrition for the local community.

The Fair Planet Project elicited great interest from the participants, and in the course of discussions they expressed great appreciation for the technological capabilities of the State of Israel and for the generous spirit of the Israelis who come to contribute to the agricultural development in Ethiopia with an emphasis on assisting farmers with small farms.

Hiruy Amare presents KKL-JNF and Fair Planet at the open day at Haramaya University. Dr Shoshan Haran is seated on the right. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Hiruy Amare
, Director of the KKL-JNF Golani Nursery in northern Israel, presented KKL-JNF's diverse projects with a video and spoke about the Fair Planet Project in English and in Amharic, which evoked great appreciation and interest among the guests. He spoke about the work being done by KKL-JNF in the fields of forestry and environment, water, community development, tourism, education, research and development, and international cooperation on various issues. In the course of the open day there were several discussions about the possibility of KKL-JNF being involved in additional areas for the benefit of agricultural and environmental development, such as water source management, sapling production and the advancement of forestry in Ethiopia.

Dr. Shoshan Haran gave a lecture about scientific research on specialized species of tomatoes as compared to local species, with detailed data from research done at the Butajira University in central Ethiopia, and about the collaboration between KKL-JNF and Fair Planet.

In the symposium that took place after the presentations, the following topics and suggestions were proposed:
  • Continuing the Tomato Project until the final results are obtained.
  • Involving more professionals and research scientists for the current project and in the future.
  • Involving KKL-JNF in additional fields that could assist in agricultural and environmental development, such as water source management, construction of vegetable nurseries, improvement of forest sapling production, maintenance of open spaces and afforestation of arid regions.
  • Involving retired professionals as volunteers, who could contribute to agricultural development in Ethiopia in different fields.

Visiting crop experimentation areas. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

During his visit, Hiruy Amare met with Haramaya University administrators, professionals and scientists, together with a team of experts from Fair Planet, which is directed by Dr. Shoshana Haran. Among the topics discussed at these meetings were the continuation of the Tomato Project and the expansion of the topics concerning additional cultivars such as chili pepper, onion and carrot, as well as the cooperation between Haramaya University and Fair Planet, the involvement of KKL-JNF in Fair Planet and the involvement of more professionals and scientists in Fair Planet.

After the symposium, Amara and Fair Planet personnel visited the experimentation area, where Dr. Alon Haberfeld, Technology Manager at Fair Planet, briefed them about the specialized species compared to the local species, techniques for soil preparation, irrigation, fertilization, diseases and pests. A variety of twenty species were used for the research, and the one that is most suitable for the region will be selected and supplied to local farmers to increase profitability and health benefits.

Quality tomato crops. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Amare also visited the local nursery, which supplies saplings in the area, and met with the director of the nursery, a professor of forestry and environmental studies, who spoke about afforestation and sapling production in the region. Amare said that “their growing methods are different than ours, and after they heard about the KKL-JNF Golani Nursery and saw the videos about it, the participants asked for assistance from KKL-JNF in improving the production of high-quality saplings and increasing the survival rate of saplings planted in the field.”

The open day confirmed the importance of the Fair Planet Project in conjunction with KKL-JNF for the benefit of agricultural development in Ethiopia, especially because agriculture is the main occupation of more than 80% of its population. The success of the Fair Planet Project should improve farmers’ income levels fivefold, so it is also important to increase the participation of local professionals and scientists in the current project and in future projects.