Crowdsourcing: A story of change on wheat

Adwa wereda is known for its cereal crop production specially wheat varieties. Some years ago, crop performance and production was good. Cultivation frequency, low use of agricultural inputs and repeated ploughs now leads to the fertility and production decline. Not only had these, but also limited availability of cultivable lands, high population growth rate and limited supply of improved seed deterred production of wheat crop in this area. To solve the chronic problem of wheat seed supply, a new mechanism of seed access is needed to employ using crowdsourcing.

Region wide 1,200 total farmers participated in crowdsourcing in six weredas and 24 tabias. In each wereda there are 200 target farmers [50% female] from four tabias namely: Debregenet, Endabagerima, Weyenti and Yeha. Each tabia has 50 target farmers [50% female] who are active in local seed maintenance practices. At Endabagerima for instance, there are 25 women, both women headed and house wife involved in crowdsourcing to multiply bread wheat seed varieties.

W/ro Letebrhan Tsehayu, 48 years old, is one of those 50 farmers who are engaged in the crowdsourcing of bread wheat. From BENEFIT partners, Letebrhan received 100 grams of three different bread wheat seed varieties. Based on the training given on crowdsourcing she was able to characterize each seed variety.

Table 1: Three bread wheat seed varieties ranked by Letebrhan

Variety name (deployed) Amount harvested (kg) Traits observed (farmer level) Rank
Shehan 2.6 Gives low yield 2nd
Ogolcho 3.4 Good yield and quality 1st
  3.4 Good yield but affected by pest/birds 3rd

“Farmers were reluctant while seeing the small amount of bread wheat seed varieties planted in small plot size. They considered the crowdsourcing practice is wasting arable plot for insignificant planting. During planting season most of the farmers were hesitant looking to the amount delivered to them. Later on, the performance of the bread wheat seed varieties such as spike length, fast growth and drought resistance traits convinced them. Some of them are now asking me to share these varieties for further multiplication purpose” said Letebrhan.

Similar to the other farmers working in the crowdsourcing, the deployment of seed bread wheat and fertilizers were too late for Letebrhan. The ISSD team considered the delay as bottleneck to work in the crowdsourcing and is determined to solve the problem in the coming years.

For next year, Letebrhan planned to increase plots so as to multiply bread wheat seed to create access of seed supply to her relatives and neighbors as well.

In 2017 productions season both durum and bread wheat has been distributed to three weredas namely:  Adwa and Endarta [bread wheat] and Kilteawlaelo durum wheat. As a result, 600 farmers are engaged in seed wheat multiplication using crowdsourcing.