Ethiopia assesses Tigray farmers’ access to inputs, credit

Partners involved in an initiative that aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, discuss the performance of the implementation of the Input Voucher Sales (IVS) System in Tigray Region of Ethiopia.

The system has been in place to improve access to inputs and credit to smallholder farmers. IVS also aims to make accountable, transparent and efficient input sales system that minimizes default and aligns incentives for stakeholders in the input distribution system.

In 2015, the IVS system was piloted in Tigray in the three woredas (districts) of Endamekhoni, Lailai Maychew, and Adwa. It was then scaled-up to 13 woredas in 2016, 14 woredas in 2017 and to all Tigray woredas in 2018.

In the 2018 planting season, about 600 thousand smallholder farmers have used the system to purchase 425,000 quintals of fertilizer worth about 492.5 million ETB.

In addition to the Tigray region, the IVS system is currently being implemented in all woredas of Amhara as well as in 160 Woredas of Oromia and 120 woredas of the SNNP regions.

The ATA has been implementing the IVS project in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, different Regional Bureaus and Agencies, Farmers’ Cooperatives, Rural Saving and Credit Cooperatives (RUSSACOs), and Micro Finance Institutions (MFI).

The workshop that gathered the partners brought together more than 230 participants from 33 IVS woredas. The meeting aims to address the challenges identified in the monitoring, learning and evaluation report of the project.

It is also expected to create awareness on IVS project and its relevance, identifying the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders and partners, according to the statement from Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA).

On the occasion, Mr. Mirafe Gebriel Marcos, Senior Director for Agribusiness and Markets Vertical of ATA, noted that the primary objective of the workshop is to discuss with stakeholders the findings of the Monitoring and Evaluation report, which has highlighted positive achievements as well as challenges, and to assess the status of planned activities.

“My expectation from this workshop is a frank discussion about building on the success of the project while at the same time addressing the major bottlenecks faced while implementing the system. I’m sure this workshop will review the impacts of the project on the livelihood of smallholder farmers so far, and discuss on next steps,” said Mr. Fisseha Bezabih, Deputy Bureau Head for Agriculture.

The IVS system is expected to help rural financial institutions increase their reach, while at the same time help grow the return on their portfolio. The promoters of the techology believe that automation of the system is seen as a crucial next stage evolution to ensure the sustainability of the IVS System with specific goals that include affordability, accessibility, scalability, adaptability, and feasibility.

The partners are expected to discuss the way forward and pinpointing areas that need improvement. Regional Agricultural Bureau, Regional Cooperative Bureau, Financial institutions, Zonal Economic Advisor, regional gender and youth league, media and representatives of ATA from the Regional and Head office, among others, attended the workshop.