Dr Azage Tegegne is a passionate researcher whose work is contributing to a key sector in Ethiopia’s development strategy: agriculture. While agriculture is the main sector in Ethiopia’s economy, accounting for about 85% of total employment, it faces several challenges.
Dr Azage obtained a scholarship from the Australian Government and completed a PhD in Animal Sciences at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville, Queensland, in 1989. Since returning home, he has wasted no time and effort in helping effect the changes he believes are needed to strengthen the sector and spur agriculture-led development in Ethiopia.
As a Senior Scientist for the Improving Productivity and Market Success (IPMS) project, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), his work contributed to an extraordinary increase in the income of smallholder farmers, particularly women farmers, from agriculture commodities.
The IPMS project registered increases in the income of farmers ranging from 22% to over 2000% at district level, as assessed by a recent impact study. The project was implemented in four Regional States from 2004 to 2012.
“This result is primarily due to the project’s knowledge and capacity development interventions, with a value chain approach to transform the traditional subsistent mode of production to a market-oriented approach,” explains Dr Azage.
But his contributions do not stop here. In 2012, Dr Azage continued his work with ILRI and helped develop a new initiative called Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project. This project focuses on the development of livestock (dairy, beef, sheep, goats and poultry) and irrigated agriculture (fruits, vegetables and fodder).
LIVES is expected to benefit about 250,000 smallholder farm households. As a Senior Scientist and Project Manager, Dr Azage leads a team of scientists delivering on key project components, including knowledge management, capacity and commodity value chain development, research and promotion, which aim at scaling up good agricultural practices in Ethiopia.
Dr Azage is a firm believer that evidence-based research and cutting-edge knowledge are key to improving agriculture in Ethiopia. He is very appreciative of the knowledge gained and the skills developed during his study at JCU. “I am happy that it is put to good use in Africa to help smallholder farmers improve their agricultural practices and enhance their livelihoods,” he says.