Revisiting Seed Science and Technology Curriculum to Respond to Market Demand

In Ethiopia, seed businesses usually struggle to find skilled human resources in seed science and technology, as well as seed business management. The existing curriculum, which was developed some years ago, need to take into consideration new developments in the seed sector. Recognizing the need for more trained human resources in seed science and technology, ENSP discussed and collaborated with Bahir Dar and Haramaya Universities to begin revising the curriculum to respond to the professional demand of the seed sector. The curriculum review process was initiated in these two universities in response to the Ministry of Education’s directive that every field of study needs to undergo curriculum review. Each university has established a curriculum review committee to begin the task. ENSP has organized a consultation workshop to support the efforts of the two universities.

Dr. Mohammed Hasena, ENSP project manager, welcomed participants and explained that the workshop’s goal is to gather feedback from stakeholders on labor market demand and professional gaps in the seed sector. He went on to say that the goal was also to gain insight into how to review the existing curriculum and develop strategies to address the identified gaps.

“Seed is one of the transformational agendas in agricultural development strategy. The Ethiopian government took a step by establishing Ethiopian Agricultural Authority (EAA) to realize this transformational agenda into practice.” said HE Mr. Wondale Habtamu, DDG of EAA in his opening remark. Mr. Wondale appreciated the ENSP effort to support the sector and particularly the EAA. He added that the consultation workshop is very critical and needs active engagement of all concerned stakeholders. He also stated that his organization is committed to assisting seed sector actors and stakeholders in realizing the transformational agenda.

Mr. Wondale Habtamu, EAA Deputy Director General, making opening speech

Dr. Mohammed made a presentation about the Ethiopian seed business and its structure. the major issues presented includes, the histoHe talked about the historical development of the sector, its progress, the status of the seed sector, and challenges related to the sector. The professional demand of the seed sector was presented by private and public seed companies. They stated the demands of the market and professionals required by the seed sector.The presentation and follow-up discussions emphasized that the seed market demands professionals with holistic knowledge, skills and practical know-how.

Then, representatives from the two universities introduced the current curriculum in seed science and technology at their institutions. The presentation gave an insight for participants about how the curriculum was developed, the structure of the program, nomenclature, general output of the need assessment, course composition and arrangement, admission and graduation requirements, list of courses, and duration of the program. The presentations showed that the curriculum of the two universities is more or less similar and there is a gap to be addressed.

Following the presentations participants raised their concerns and a thorough discussion was held. Participants discussed emerging needs within Ethiopia’s seed sector and charted out how the two universities can support demand, through a dynamic and responsive program. Participants emphasized the importance of linking graduate research with the challenges of the sector. They also stressed the importance of building innovation and the continuous evolution of academic programs. Participants suggested in some areas it is possible to develop short-term certificate and diploma courses in the subject of seed science and technology.

It was agreed that the curriculum review activity will be started by conducting the need assessment of stakeholders. The team from the two universities will continue working on the curriculum review activities separately. Based on the suggestion of participants, a discussion forum will be arranged for the universities in the near future. This will facilitate the process of maintaining communication, share experience and learn from each other. In the meantime, ENSP will organize an event, in which the universities share the international experience of curriculums and curriculum review processes on seed science. Then, the reviewed curriculum will be approved at two levels, after undergoing through inhouse and national (external) curriculum review workshops. The final curriculum will be developed after incorporating the comments of the internal and external workshop. Launching the reviewed curriculum will be made after the curriculum is approved by the management of the universities. The universities drafted action plan and targeted to finalize the curriculum review tasks by the end of 2022 or mid of 2023.

Participants discussing in groups

In conclusion, the workshop assisted in identifying that there is an unmet need for professionals in the seed sector, the expertise required by the seed sector is not fully addressed by the existing curriculum, and that the seed sector market requires professionals with holistic knowledge and skills.

Dr. Dawit Alemu, SWR Ethiopia country representative making concluding remarks

The consultation workshop was organized on August 11th -12th, 2022 at Azzeman Hotel in Addis Ababa. The workshop convened more than 30 individuals from Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopian Agricultural Authority, Regional Agricultural Regulatory Authorities, Agricultural research center, Public and private seed enterprises and companies, senior professionals from the seed sector, and Haramaya and Bahir Dar universities.