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Cluster Based Demonstration and Popularization of Highland Maize (BH661) and  Midland Maize (BH547) Production Technologies Packages in Selected Districts  of Gedeo Zone and Sidama Region, Ethiopia

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*Corresponding author:  
Merknehi Bekele 
Cluster-based demonstration Full-package 
Maize varieties 
Improved maize varieties, pesticides, lime, NPSB, and urea fertilizers, as well  as suggested agronomic procedures, were used as inputs for the display.  Sites were selected based on the potentiality of the area to produce maize  as well as their accessibility by land and road. Farmers, development agents,  experts, and other stakeholders received various forms of training before  implementing the demonstration. Field visits, field days, and yield  harvesting events are all included as evaluation means of the demonstration. The findings show that the Gedeb and Windogenet areas produced a mean grain yield of maize of 42 qt/ha-1 and 44 qt/ha-1,  respectively. The grain yield, the number of cobs per plant, disease  resistance, seed color, and the well-covered seed of the varieties were  preferred by the producers. The encountered challenges were the occurrence of fall armyworm; however, the worm was controlled by  applying chemicals. Also, the lesson obtained from the demonstration was  appropriately applying recommended maize packages is the major solution  to the production and productivity problem of farmers. Extension personnel  and concerned bodies need to work on the appropriate application of  recommended maize technologies to improve maize productivity of farmers  and interested bodywork on maize production. 


Ethiopia is the fifth largest producer of maize in Africa and smallholder farmers make up 94 % of the crop production. The country produces white maize, the preferred type of maize in neighboring markets. As the cheapest source of caloric intake in Ethiopia, providing  16.7 % of per capita calorie intake nationally, maize is an important crop for overall food security (CSA, 2015).  

Maize is everything for Ethiopian maize farmers. Three-fourths of the maize produced is consumed at the  household level by the small-scale producers themselves  (CSA, 2017). The grain is consumed in different forms of  food; the Stover is used as feed, fuel, and construction material. Besides, it serves as a major source of income in the country, maize is one of the strategic field crops targeted to ensure food security in Ethiopia (Keno et al.  2018). 

Despite the importance of maize as a principal food crop,  its average yield in Ethiopia (3.6-tons ha-1) is still lower  than that of the world’s average (5.6 t ha-1 in 2016) (FAO,  2017). A significant portion of this yield gap is attributable  to biotic and abiotic stresses. The low productivity of  maize is attributed to many factors like the frequent  occurrence of drought, decline of soil fertility, poor  agronomic practice, cease/limited use of fertilizer,  insufficient technology generation, and adoption, lack of  credit facilities, poor seed quality, disease, insect, pests, and weeds (Dhliwayo, et al. 2009).

Weak research extension linkage is also a major bottleneck for the low  awareness and adoption of improved agricultural  technologies. For that creating various initiatives to  strengthen the research-extension-farmer linkage is an  important mechanism to be able to bridge the gap and  on-farm demonstration of improved maize variety with  associative inputs, including farmers’ pieces of training  are important to facilitate change in the behavior of  farmers and ultimately bring behavioral changes in favor  of improved maize technology adoption and extension  package (Dawit et al. 2014).

Therefore, this cluster-based  large-scale demonstration was conducted to improve  maize productivity by creating awareness of the  appropriate application of recommended maize packages  and to evaluate farmers’ feedback on technology thereby  ultimately enhancing maize productivity improvement of  smallholder farmers. 


Before beginning the demonstration tasks, extension staff and relevant administrative bodies at the zone and  district levels held all required discussions and  communications regarding the goals and significance of  carrying out the activity. After that, the district and  kebele were purposefully chosen based on how well the  region suited the technology (production potential and  accessibility). Additionally, the farmers were chosen in  consultation with district experts and development  agents, taking cluster-based demonstration principles  into account. The amount of area coverage that was  intended to be implemented restricted the number of  host farmers; therefore, the most important factor was  adjacent farmland, up to the achievements of the  planned hectare of land. 


At the starting point of implementation of the  demonstration, training was given to selected farmers,  DAs, and experts from the woreda farm and natural  resource development office on agronomic practices,  objectives, and the importance of a cluster-based  demonstration approach. 

All necessary inputs were collected through the  collaborative contributions of both HwARC and Weareda Farm and the Natural Resource Development Office.  Indeed, improved maize seed (5 quintals), fertilizers (40  quintals of NPSB and 30 quintals of urea), awareness creation and capacity-building training, and field day ceremonies were prepared by the research center. 

Additionally, soil lime and chemicals have been collected  under the responsibility of the woreda farm and natural  resource development office. Then input distribution was  done by considering the selected land size for a  demonstration from each beneficiary farmer, which was  accomplished by the collaborative responsibility of  Kebele Das coordinators, the kebele chief adumbrative or  chairman, experts from the woreda farm and natural  resource development office, and respective researchers  from the research center. 

All necessary agronomic practices were done carefully,  starting from land preparation up to yield harvesting, by  applying the joint responsibility of beneficiary farmers,  kebele and woreda agricultural officers, and researchers  playing their respective roles.

Three times (once before  sowing plus once during sowing), the farming frequency  was done: at the time of sowing 5 quintals ha-1, lime was  applied by dressing in a row; 100 percent NPSB and 25  percent urea were applied at the sowing session; and the  remaining 75 percent urea was applied 35 to 40 days after  sowing as part of integrative pest and insect management  (chemical and biological insect management practices  were applied to control the pole worm). 

Integrative continuous follow-up (inclusive of researcher farmers-extension) was done periodically by  strengthening good practices and taking corrective  measures for miss field management practices by visiting  each host farmer’s field and having discussions, and by  recommending making a frequent visit to each host  farmer alone his or her demonstration field to make  communication with DAs.

Each demonstration task was  performed by applying a participatory and shared  responsibility approach, starting from the planning phase  to the end, which was done by making effective  communication with all stakeholders at each stage  (researchers, extension personnel, administrative staff,  and host farmers). This approach was done by sharing  input costs, taking common field management measures,  and following up by participating in multidisciplinary  research teams. 


Field day 

At both locations (Gedeb and Wondo genet) field day was  conducted with inclusive participation of all stakeholders  (zone, woreda, and kebele extension personals, farmers, 

SARI, and HwARC researchers and management members). On-field day, media (southern radio and  television) coverage was employed. 

Yield performance 

Two demonstrated maize varieties (BH547 and BH661)  exhibited better yield performance in their respective  demonstrated locations, as shown in the grain yield  

Table 1. Participant list of training 

performance table 3. This improved yield performance  was brought about by the implementation of full  packages. This indicates that the main productivity potential barrier to the maize in the Gedeo and Sidama  areas is the failure to implement the recommendations fully. 

LocationParticipant list in training Grand Total 
Farmer Agri- expert Researcher Other officers
Total Total Total Total 
Wondo genet 15 20 45
Gedeb 10 15 39
Sub-total 25 10 35 12 15 12 16 14 18 84

Source: field data, 2022 

Table 2. Participant list in field day 

LocationParticipant lists Total
Farmers Agri-experts Researchers Other officers
mal efemale total mal efemal etotal male female total male female total
Wondo  genet57 17 74 11 12 14 107
Gedeb 111 16 127 12 14 16 21 170
Sub-total 168 33 201 21 25 13 17 28 35 277

Source; field data, 2022 

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Fig-1 Field day photo at Wondogenet and Gedeb districts, 2022 

susceptible to unanticipated circumstances and the real  

District Kebele variety Grain yield in quintal per  hector
min max Mean
Wondo  genetYuwe  (N=12)BH547 39.3 47 43
Aroma  (N=8)BH547 40 48.6 44.3
Gedeb Galcha(N =17)BH661 39 47 42.5
Gubata( N=12)BH661 38.3 45.6 42

Source: field data, 2022 

Feedbacks given  

Farmers expressed that this comprehensive  demonstration of the technologies and applied  approaches was practically approved as a means of  increasing maize production and productivity. Indeed,  the majority of the maize plants on the demonstration  site had two to three cobs per plant, whereas the same  maize variety planted in neighboring farmers’ fields and  outside the demonstration field had just one cob per  plant. Operationalizing the complete packages is what  accounts for this productivity disparity.

The excellent  results of the tested maize varieties in terms of lodging  resistance, grain yield, grain color, number of cobs per  single crop, and well-coverage of cob tips were noted by  farmers as reasons for their appreciation and acceptance.

Also, according to extension staff, this cluster-based  outcome demonstration opened the door for farmers to  implement full-package applications to boost the  productivity of maize varieties. In addition, they stated  that the linkage between research, farmers, and  extension is the most effective method for addressing  smallholder farmers’ productivity problems and issues  with food security.

Extension workers claimed that the  proven methods and methodology for growing maize  have a remarkable effect on smallholder farmers’ ability  to produce more maize. To maintain the results and  further raise agricultural output, careful consideration  must be given to this link between research, farmers, and  extension. Pole worm prevalence, however, poses a  significant threat to maize production, so the study  center must pay careful attention to this issue. 

Challenges faced  

Due to their nature, agricultural activities are difficult to  carry out because they are done in an open or  uncontrolled environment where they are highly  

conditions of farmers and other stakeholders. (technical  support, agronomic practices, and conditional attitudes  related to personal benefit). The effects of the  aforementioned factors collectively hamper agricultural  productivity and production in general, in addition to  deviating from an agricultural project’s intended  objective. 

When carrying out these demonstration tasks, there  were challenges, including an outbreak of pole worms,  but they were overcome without having a negative  impact as a result of the use of integrative pest  management techniques and collaboration with farmers,  extension agents, and researchers. 

Additionally, taking yield samples and determining the  appropriate grain yield weight was difficult due to the  heavy rain that was falling during the maturity stage. Also,  extension gatekeepers’ requests for periodic incentives  to monitor and organize demonstration field  management are growing in number as a source of  grievance. However, this difficulty can be overcome by  opening up channels of communication to zone and  woreda extension staff so they can plan out their  demonstration supervision schedule 

Lessons learned  

The application of this cluster-based full demonstration  approach validated the effective utilization of production  factors (land, labor, and technologies) to boost  smallholder farmers’ output and productivity. By putting  farmers at the center of the research-extension  relationship and fostering effective communication,  smallholder farmers can readily disseminate research  findings and boost agricultural productivity. 

Farmers thought that utilizing recommended full  packages could boost the productivity of particular  agricultural technology. Farmers were also extremely  motivated and believed that using the recommended full  packages could boost the productivity of maize  technology and, to the greatest extent possible,  demonstrate the variety’s potential. 


The demonstrated maize varieties (BH547 and BH661)  were the best performed; their average grain yields were  44 quintals ha-1 and 42 quintals ha-1, respectively. The  result of the demonstration showed that using the  recommended full packages for the maize technologies  (BH547 and BH661) could increase the production and productivity of the varieties.

Hence extending these  improved maize varieties with their full packages is an  important mechanism to increase the production volume  and productivity of smallholder farmers up to 43 quintals  per hectare in the demonstration and similar agro ecologies.

The grain yield, the number of cobs per plant,  disease resistance capacity, seed color, and the well covered seed of the varieties were preferred by the  producers. Farmers were also extremely motivated and  believed that using the recommended full packages could  boost the productivity of maize technology and, to the  greatest extent possible, demonstrate the variety’s potential.  


The demonstrated maize technologies resulted in positive change in farmers’ maize productivities and  showed profitable maize-producing practices, thus  expanding this technology with its full package would  play a great role in household-level food security and  income generation for smallholder farmers and  contribute to zonal and regional food security. Therefore,  each concerned body needs to play its expected roles, in  that manner: –  

Farmers need to expand the technology as demonstrated  in the packages and further refine agronomic practices  (farming frequency, weed control) to maintain the  productivity achieved in the demonstration as well as  further improve grain yields by incorporating their  indigenous knowledge, especially for the biological  control of pole worm prevalence.  

Also, cooperatives need to play their role in seed  multiplication for the sake of seed access for farmers and  other interested parties who are interested in working on  this technology.  

Agricultural officers need to play their role in facilitating  communication among farmers, cooperatives, and  researchers and giving technical support on agronomic  practices (farming frequency, weed management, pest  management, and rust prevention and control  mechanisms). The pole worm prevalence in maize cultivars is a big production problem at demonstration  locations; thus, concerned bodies need to give due  attention to the solution to this problem. 

Finally, all concerned parties (especially extension  personnel) must pay particular attention to technical  support and information accessibility for every  smallholder maize producer for proper actualization of maize production packages in the area in order to  maintain the demonstration’s positive results and reduce  the yield performance gap among farmers. 


The authors would like to acknowledge SARI (the  Southern Agricultural Research Institute) for their  financial assistance through the AGP-II program. Farmers  and development agents directly involved in the  completion of cluster-based demonstrations of improved  maize technology are also heartily acknowledged. During  clustering and different follow-up stages and field days,  the farm and natural resources office experts and  development agents also contribute a lot, so the authors  also acknowledge them for their commitment. 


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