Dr Samuel Gameda, Director of Soil Health and Fertility Program at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) based in Addis Ababa visited ICBA on 30 September 2012. An initiative of the Government of Ethiopia (GOE), ATA was established in 2011 as a result of two years of extensive diagnostic study across eight sub-sectors of Ethiopia’s agricultural system in a highly-consultative, multi-stakeholder process led by the Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The primary aim of the Agency is to promote agricultural sector transformation by supporting existing structures of government, private-sector and other non-governmental partners to address systemic bottlenecks to deliver a prioritised national agenda to achieve agricultural growth and food security.
After an overview of the ATA mandates and activities, Dr Gameda outlined for the ICBA scientists the problems in Ethiopia impacting on soil health and fertility. His presentation generated considerable discussion amongst the scientists given the intersection of research and development needs in the dryland zones of Ethiopia and the countries in which ICBA is involved. Both ATA and ICBA recognize that soil and water management including the problems of soil salinity and sodicity are increasingly impacting agricultural production. Discussions in small groups comprising specific scientific disciplines and in general enabled the ATA and ICBA scientists to identify areas of potential future collaborations in research, development and capacity building to benefit Ethiopian agricultural development and transformation.