The Agricultural Science Association (ASA), which represents professional agricultural and food scientists and Irish Development Agency Vita have teamed up to form a new partnership, which will help Vita development projects in Ethiopia to be more operated more effectively.
The partnership will give ASA members an opportunity to contribute agricultural expertise and general support to farmers in Africa. The science and skills of Irish agricultural scientists can help farmers to transform their farming practices and ASA is uniquely placed to make such a contribution.
Involved in the project is Ardfinnan native and president of the Tipperary Association Dublin, Liam Myles.
The ASA – Vita partnership builds on Vita’s policy of working through and collaborating with Irish and Ethiopian farming organisations, beginning with local government agencies, which can provide expertise and support on the ground.
This collaboration policy is best manifested in the “Potato Centre of Excellence (PCE)” which is an alternative model for sustainable development. It involves technical support/extension for families and growers and a cooperative structure to provide suitable varieties of potatoes, inputs, storage and marketing of surplus production. The PCE integrates research, development and business. It leads and promotes potato production for 60,000 farmers in the Gamo Gofa region of Southern Ethiopia.
Through the PCE, the ASA will partner with the Loshe Kebele a village/community in the region. By helping to make the PCE a successful model for development, the ASA will become a key player in efforts to replicate the model for millions of farmers across Ethiopia and East Africa.
Speaking at the Launch of the Partnership, John Weakliam, Vita CEO stated that “the partnership arrangement with the ASA will greatly further the collaboration of the various expert organisations whose expertise is channelled through the Potato Centre of Excellence to each of the 60,000 small potato growers in the Gamo Gofa region. The Partnership will promote technology transfer from Ireland as well as provide empowerment to the farmers and partners with whom Vita works in Ethiopia”
ASA President, Peter Bolger, of John Bolger & Company, Ferns, Co. Wexford stated that “it is a pleasure and honour to be associated with this very worthwhile project in the Loche Kebele in the Gama Gofa Zone of Southern Ethiopia. It is particularly useful because it allows agricultural graduates from Ireland the opportunity to share their skills and knowledge with the less fortunate people in that community to build a more sustainable future through the growing and marketing of potatoes. ”