Crowdsourcing: A step forward on barley revival

Topographically Wereda Deguatenben is located in a high land part. Comparing to other ISSD operational weredas, it is suitable for cereals such barley and wheat. Around twenty years ago, barley was staple food in the Deguatenben surrounding. People used barley to prepare local foods like [injera – flat bread, bread, qolo, tihni, porage] and local beer commonly known as siwa/tela. Farmers were active in producing, dissemination and preserving barley varieties. Eventually, priority was given to wheat multiplication and dissemination due to governments’ extensive extension works. For this and other related reasons, barley landraces started to disappear from the hands of farmers. To restore the diverse barley varieties, ISSD started to promote improved barley seed varieties through crowdsourcing.

W/ro Hiriti Abraha, 55 years old, is resident of Deguatenben, Tabia seret a village called Endamariam. “Our parents used to cultivate barley. We have learnt that, barley was one of the top crops in our locality. From 1997 onwards however, the government prioritized wheat seed dissemination and multiplication rather than barley. Skilled man power was also assigned to foster the wheat based cluster approach. As a result, old barley varieties become extinct” says W/ro Hiriti.

Barley crowdsourcing implemented at private farmer level requires well land preparation and follow up. To properly manage the crowdsourcing, farmers got introductory training focusing on inputs use and overall crop management practice. “According to the training given, plots of land were prepared and inputs were supplied ahead of time. Even though production decreased because of erratic rain fall, it is better than the landrace varieties” said W/ro Hiriti.

She mentioned that, first farmers were doubtful of the new barley seed multiplication system and discouraged me why I was engaged in crowdsourcing. Later on, the farmers were lured by the performance and drought resistant traits of the three deployed barley varieties. As a result, five farmers [2 male & 3 female] showed confidence on these varieties and promised to share them.

“Barley is better than wheat health-wise. It is also useful for animal feed” added W/ro Hiriti.

Table 1: The four well performing barley seed varieties and Hiriti Abraha’s ranking

Variety name (deployed) Amount deployed (gm) Amount harvested (kg) Rank
Welelay 006 120 4.5 6 row 1st
Hiriti 003 120 2
Saesea 120 All eaten by pest /birds 3rd