International ARM experts may have adequate knowledge to spread but may not be able to reach many learners at more specific contexts just by themselves. In turn, country-based extension agents are often well positioned to train wider audiences on ARM. But how can trainers train if they are not themselves trained?
To bridge this gap, Ethiopia’s Hawassa University has launched a Training-of-Trainers (ToT) initiative for promoting capacity development (CD) on ARM in the country. The lead team is the College of Agriculture, which is part of the university’s School of Environment, Gender and Development Studies (SEGDS). The initiative is supported by the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM), which aims to institutionalize the development of ARM competencies at the college/university level.
The ToT initiative builds on a training series offered to national and regional experts with qualified diploma/degree in agricultural sciences, agricultural economics, agro-business or ARM-related fields. In an experimental series that started in 2018, ARM trainers developed the knowledge and skills needed to train district assistants and farmers, and in this way help them understand the prevalence of agricultural risks and the development of strategies to manage them.
The training series was delivered in six days from 28 May to 2 June 2018, considering six interlinked modules covering the different ARM knowledge areas:
Collaboration with the national and sub-national governments helped institutionalize the necessary CD activities. As part of these efforts, the Hawassa University sent out requests to many organisations working with farmers, including local government agencies, to nominate participants who would join the pilot ToT. PARM provided the Hawassa team with the learning modules it had prepared, inviting them to use them during the training process.
The plan to scale up the ToT process was to integrate it into various institutions at the national and sub-national level, hence making it more sustainable. The Ethiopian national government has been a key player in the efforts to move this forward: its Ministry of Agriculture has committed to provide training to extension workers and integrate the initiative into agricultural development activities in the coming years.