Positive results for farmers using bio-slurry to dress seeds in Ethiopia

SNV ethiopia

In Ethiopia, farmers are getting positive results by using bio-slurry as an organic fertiliser, pesticide and in recent times as a seed dresser. Acknowledging the benefit of seeds dressing for quick returns, high coverage and ease of management, the Ministry of Agriculture urges farmers to adopt bio-slurry for seeds dressing for the next cropping season.

In agriculture and horticulture, seed treatment or seed dressing is a chemical, typically antimicrobial or fungicidal, with which seeds are treated (or "dressed") prior to planting and has brought about encouraging results for farmers who have adopted the technique. Farmers in Were Ilu Woreda, one of implementation districts of the Biogas Dissemination Scale-Up Programme (NBPE+), co-funded by the Government of Ethiopia and the European Union, got positive results by dressing their seeds with bio-slurry.

Arega Tadesse, a farmer in Were Ilu said, “I dressed the seeds of fenugreek with liquid bio-slurry. The crop germinated uniformly and has vigorous growth, and the field is not infested by disease.” Another farmer, Hassen Tekilew, earned an additional 400kgs of faba bean applying the technology.

To scale up the impact, SNV has been working to enhance the capacity of farmers' and government partners at different levels. In addition to the capacity building efforts, practical demonstrations and testimonies by farmers who dressed their seeds helped the Ministry of Agriculture to consider using bio-slurry to dress seeds and as organic fertiliser, and incorporated it into its soil fertility management extension training package.

Following this progress and anticipating the negative effects of COVID-19 on farmers, SNV developed a concept note which the ministry adopted. The Ministry also requested “regional bureaus of agriculture to work closely with SNV and regional biogas programmes to ensure the implementation of seeds dressing using bio-slurry and mitigate the impact of the virus on agriculture” said Mekonnen Mekuria, Bio-slurry Value Chain Expert, SNV Ethiopia.

This commitment was the result of capacity building activities and continuous follow up of SNV on bio-slurry mainstreaming with the agricultural extension system.

The extension experts in the ministry will support bio-digester users to dress their seeds with bio-slurry and promote the practice to non-bio-digester users. The sharing of liquid bio-slurry to at least 10 neighbours will give a chance to test the effectiveness of seeds dressing and that in turn motivates them to own their own bio-digesters. To supplement the effort exerted by the ministry, SNV is working on an Approach Paper for accelerated operationalisation of this practice at farmer level.

In this cropping season, the country is estimated to produce around 5,720.76 tonnes [i] of bio-slurry to cover about 915,321 hectares [ii] of wheat land.

[i] A properly fed 6m3 digester - on average - produces 90 kgs of bio-slurry per day. If a user collects bio-slurry for 30 days, 2,700 kgs of bio-slurry will be produced from a single digester. The number of digesters constructed in 2019 reached 26,820. As per Biogas Users’ Survey (BUS 2019), the functionality rate of bio-digesters was 79%. This makes the number of functional digesters 21,188. Multiplying the amount of bio-slurry by the number of functional digesters gives 57,207,600 kgs of bio-slurry.

[ii] If we use it for seeds dressing, it can dress a minimum of 114,415,200 kgs of seeds (one kgs equal to one litre of bio-slurry and one litre of bio-slurry dresses two kgs of seeds). If the bio-slurry is used for dressing wheat seeds, it has a potential of covering 915,321 hectares of land (at 125 kg/ha).