By Mamusha Lemma and Gemeda Duguma
Recurrent water pump damage and malfunction is a major challenge to smallholder farmers in Seka Cherkosa District, Jimma Zone. According to Yohannes Eshetu, an irrigation expert at the Irrigation Development Office of the district, lack of adequate knowledge and skills on water pump operation and maintenance, and absence of reliable repair and maintenance service are hindering irrigation development in the area.
The Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project is helping to address problems of lack of skills in pump use and maintenance by training, coaching and mentoring agricultural experts in Seka Cherkosa, who, in turn, train farmers at the local level.
Yohannes is one of the beneficiaries of the training by LIVES. A graduate in small-scale irrigation and drainage management from the Technical Education and Vocational Training (TEVT) Institute in Weliso, Yohannes has been trained in water pump maintenance and repair by the project. A training which he says was ‘practical’ and has enabled him to apply the knowledge he gained.
He is now an active user of the LIVES-supported agricultural knowledge centre that was established in the district. He uses internet services and other reference materials at the centre to improve his capacity and to gain additional knowledge to help farmers address their water pump problems. Currently, Yohannes is a lead trainer in the LIVES Training of Trainers cascade program on irrigation motor pump repair and maintenance.
He says the agricultural knowledge centre has empowered him and given him the desire to know more about agriculture because it offers an opportunity for experts like him to develop computer skills and learn how to use audiovisual equipment and share information via email and social media.
The Seka Cherkosa knowledge centre manager, Jallele Dingata, shares Yohannes’ view saying the centre inspires experts to search for new information, develop computer skills and aspire to pursue higher education by giving them knowledge resources to upgrade themselves. She says the centre has helped her network with other experts in her work as an irrigation trainer.
She encourages more agricultural experts in the district to take advantage of the opportunity for learning and exchange that the knowledge centre offers to build their capacity in delivering extension services.