One of NFG’s strategies for reforestation is to establish local nurseries. Short distances to the fields make it easier for the local communities having access to appropriate planting material.
Therefore, the project has established a small nursery in a selected area, namely Serawudi in the Amhara region. This region has been selected as a project area because it is particularly prone to deforestation and degradation.
And this year there has been full activity at the nursery. Here 700,000 plants were grown in greenhouses and released in three surrounding areas between June and August.
These become trees for the local farmers as a farm boundary plantions, supplemental plants in degraded forests, for small woodlots for local use and for some larger commercial plantations to generate economic value. And not least small trees, families can enjoy around their houses – preferably fruit trees, says Yeshanew Ashagrie Abitew, the local NFG project coordinator.
In Serawudi, Ehtnesh has placed two trees in her small “garden” of 10 square meters outside the house. She proudly shows off the small sprouts between chickens and hens, next to the basket with corn crop from her own field patch. It is harvest time in Ethiopia. The rainy season is just over and between September and November there is full activity on all arable land. In Serawudi, Ehtnesh and her friends Amaru, Belaynesh, Lime and Asnaku harvest both wheat and the local cereal teff as well as vegetables such as corn, beans, onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
In own garden: In Serawudi, Ehtnesh has put two trees in her small “garden” of 10 square meters . Photo Line Venn
A co-operation between the Ethiopian institute Orda and the Norwegian Forestry Group (NFG) has resulted in the establishment of a small research and development centre that includes operative functions. The lab outside Bahir Dahr in Ethiopia is now producing a small volume of plants that are completely free of disease.
The establishment of the centre has taken time (7-8 years) due to several layers of bureaucracy in determining where the lab would be established and whom would be involved in the research centre, which includes buildings, a greenhouse and diverse infrastructure, e.g. roads, gate, etc. The centre is established using State funds, financial assistance from Orda and some external aid.
Initially plant production has been carried out using standard tree nursery production practices while a specialised entity for vegetative propagation was being established. The building for vegetative propagation is now in place and a small volume of plant material is being produced using cloning with quality improvement for each generation of clones for bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Chilean blueberries, avocadoes, apples and bamboo.
Professor and Lab Technician Melabu Adrmas informed that the goal of the vegetative program is to provide rural Ethiopia with high quality, healthy planting material over the long-term. The Professor conducted a tour of the lab emphasising that the process for vegetative propagation requires a sterile environment, specialised equipment and highly qualified lab assistants. The final product was stored in small glass holders, each containing a small healthy plant that would soon be planted out. There were 13 (14) persons working at the centre including University researchers, the technical staff and administrative personnel.
Outside the production centre is a greenhouse that is filled with plants that are earlier generations. The plants are given care prior to being set out in the Ethiopian agricultural landscape that has rich soils, but with very difficult climate challenges. The planting material must therefore contain all the nutrients needed to get a good start. In time, the lab aims to provide a variety of planting materials that are adapted to the local climate as it changes.
The lab has provided planting materials for the past 3 years, but month 2018 was the first planting season with proper production. These plants have been very useful for those farmers who have been supplied with new planting materials. Orda is working with developing a customer base, now that planting material is coming online. In time the sale of planting material is expected to give a profit. The current buyers are State institutions, farmer co-operatives, NGOs, farmers and private investors. Acting Director at Orda, Tesaka Miskie, believes that the market will slowly grow and become stronger.