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Climate-smart Interventions for Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia (CultiAF-2)

Sorghum provides staple food for more than 60 million people in Ethiopia. It is predominantly grown by some of Ethiopia's poorest smallholder farmers in the dry lowlands, who produce it mainly for domestic consumption as grain, forage, fuel, and building materials. It is possible to produce surplus sorghum grain by using improved varieties and inputs, but widespread use of such practices is limited by insufficient economic resources, high labour demand, and environmental factors. Additionally, poor storage practices result in high losses due to pest damage and reduced grain quality from fungal infestation. Climate change further contributes to a higher frequency of drought events and crop failures, exposing farmers to even greater food shortages and loss of livestock. Women provide much of the labour for the crop and play a major role in the sorghum trade, therefore changes to the economics of sorghum can directly impact women and children.

To address key limitations to sorghum production and availability to smallholders in Ethiopia, this project will develop and deploy key technologies that reduce the risk of crop failure, increase productivity, and create new economic opportunities for women’s businesses. The technologies include climate-smart sorghum varieties, value-added sorghum products, small-scale threshers, and farm-scale grain storage systems. This will improve the economic well-being of approximately 240,000 disadvantaged rural Ethiopians, particularly women and children. In addition, this project will enhance the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research’s capacity to breed drought-tolerant sorghum varieties, use crop simulation modelling to increase plant breeding efficiency, and evaluate the risk of genetic and agronomic interventions.

This project is funded through the second phase of the Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF-2), a joint program of IDRC and the Australian International Food Security Research Centre of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. CultiAF supports research to achieve long-term food security in eastern and southern Africa.

Project ID
Project Status
42 months
IDRC Officer
Edidah Lubega Ampaire
Total Funding
CA$ 2,786,700.00
Climate-Resilient Food Systems
Institution Country
Project Leader
David Jordan
The University of Queensland
Institution Country
Project Leader
Taye Tadesse
Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute



Climate-smart interventions for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia