Under the WoodCluster project, a Participatory Innovation Platform (PIP) was held in June in the town Hawassa in Ethiopia. This workshop aimed to find gaps, problems, and possible options (solutions) for and with each actor groups of eucalyptus products value chain. The workshop was jointly organized by Hawassa University/Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources (HU-WGCF & NR) and the Chair of Tropical Forestry, TUD, and took place on June 04, 2018, in Hawassa, Southern Ethiopia. It aimed to integrated the research done in during the last two years into a stakeholder discussion.
The workshop was officially opened by Dr. Tesfaye Abebe (Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer of Hawassa University) and Dr. Girma Mengesha (Dean of HU-WGCF & NR). Dr. Tesfaye also gave a note about wood and wood products in Sidama zone. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Pretzsch (Head of the WoodCluster project of the TU Dresden) delivered his welcoming message and good wishes.
A total of 33 participants from different actor groups such as farmers, traders (wholesalers and retailers), researchers and wood expertise, kebele representatives and journalists participated in the workshop.
An introductory session about the workshop was presented by Dr. Auch (TUD Project Team/staff). He focused on the definition of value chain, the objective/aim of the project and PIP workshop. Following Dr. Auch, the former TUD MSc student Shibire Bekele presented her findings about financial analysis of woodlot management in the project study Kebele, Chefasine in Sidama Zone.
Subsequently, eucalyptus pole and fuelwood value chain analyses originating from Chefasine Kebele were presented by the current TUD student Asabeneh Alemayheu. His presentation was followed by discussions on his findings whereby a common agreement on the actors and their respective lines could be reached. Participants could comment on the results, correct misrepresentations, and enrich the result by including missing additional information.
Challenges were identified, discussed and grouped under eucalyptus production (management), eucalyptus problem (e.g for other crop), lack of market price information, lack of technologies (e.g harvesting), lack of road and transportation problem and problems related to market place/storage. Then, participants selected one major problem from the listed challenges. Following this priority setting process, two major problems were identified: These are lack of market price information (fist problem) and lack of technology, road access and market place (second problem). In the afternoon session, participants were divided into two groups to discuss solutions for the identified major problems, which were presented afterwards.
In the end, after receiving comments from the participants, the representatives from the WoodCluster project partners, Prof. Pretzsch and Dr. Auch from TUD and Prof. Tsegaye from HU-WGCF delivered their messages to officially close the workshop.
This PIP workshop developed very good and showed to be a very good way of teaching each other. An open discussion in between and among different actor groups was observed. Feedback given by the participants revealed that the workshop´s free and open discussion helped them to gain a significant change on their knowhow, interconnectedness and trust. Participatory discussions of this kind should be encouraged, to come up with a common agreement on the respective problems and solutions of different actor groups, to strengthen their relationship, and to ensure equal benefit sharing from resources.
WoodCluster is a joint project of TU Dresden and three institutions in East Africa: Ethiopia (HU-WGCF & NR), Tanzania (Sokoine University of Agriculture) and Uganda (Makerere University). It has the objective of reducing the wood demand gap of these three east African countries by elucidating sustainable solutions for the problems. Cast study villages from each of the collaboration countries were selected for the project.
The wood supply gap in Ethiopia was on a level of 38.8 million m3 per year in 2013 with an increasing trend resulting from large-scale forest conversions and high population growth. In Ethiopia, Chefasine Kebele (Village) from Sidama zone in Southern Ethiopia has been selected considering the demand for wood, presence of small-scale farms with woodlots and the willingness of the community to cooperate with the project for community discussions and receiving students for research work.
Succeeding the last year´s (2017) first research work, done by Shibire Bekele and Ysabel Perdomo, from our Tropical Forestry MSc. course, and an ongoing PhD research by Busha Teshome, this year, two BSc. students (Florin Thiem and Conrad Drünert) and one MSc. student (Asabeneh Alemayehu) conducted their research in the village on woodlot performances, land use change and value chain, respectively.
By Asabeneh Alemayehu and Eckhard Auch