At vocational schools in Ethiopia, farmers learn to use their land sustainably. The curricula are tailored to climate change and droughts. 


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Ethiopian farmers in Mertule Mariam receive tips on sustainable land use. (c) IAK

Project name

Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture (BBQL)

Target Group

Agricultural Vocational Schools in Ethiopia


2015 to 2017

Implementation partner

Ministry of Agriculture





about two million Euros


Ethiopia / East Africa

The agricultural sector is the main branch of economic activity in Ethiopia: 80 percent of the population makes its living in agriculture. Although food production has risen sharply in recent years, large parts of the population are constantly undernourished. Last year's extreme drought seriously aggravated the food situation for the rural population of Ethiopia. In the fertile highlands, small farmers suffer from weak harvests. Even more affected are the drier lowlands, where hundreds of thousands of goats, sheep, and cattle, which represent the livelihood of the nomadic and semi-nomadic herders living there, have already died.


The agricultural consulting firm IAK Agrar Consulting aims to increase the productivity of small farmers and shepherds while improving their ability to adapt to extreme arid conditions. Such conditions occur regularly in Ethiopia and are further intensified by climate change. The negative effect of extreme weather events is considerably exacerbated by the mismanagement of farmland and grazing land, especially in the densely-populated highlands.


Five vocational schools adopt modern curricula

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Farmers study at a vocational school in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. (c) IAK

Small farmers in the highlands generally have no agricultural training. Their knowledge of sustainable land management is inadequate. For a number of years, Ethiopia has had a state-subsidized system of agricultural advisors, or Development Agents, which particularly aims to help small farmers and ranchers become more productive and operate in a sustainable manner. However, these advisory services are insufficiently equipped and the teaching content is often not adapted to the challenges of climate change.


The "Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture" (BBQL) project aims to integrate modern expertise in sustainable land use and grazing management in light of climate change and droughts into Ethiopia's vocational training system. Together with five agricultural vocational schools (ATVET Colleges) in five different regions, German and Ethiopian experts are working to improve the system of agricultural vocational training in Ethiopia. Job profiles and teaching content are modernized and adapted to the regional socio-economic and climate conditions: the aim of the project is to secure high-quality practice-oriented and demand-driven vocational education opportunities through the ATVET Colleges. For the arid lowland areas, there was still no standard curriculum at the time, so that the agricultural consultants employed there were more often better informed about crop cultivation in the highlands than about sustainable management of grazing land.


"The new curricula contain new topics such as nutrition and biological, climate-adjusted agriculture"


"The new curricula contain some new topics that were hardly addressed in the old curricula, if at all, such as nutrition and biological and climate-adjusted agriculture", explains Wuletaw Mekuria, a long-term expert at Mertule Mariam ATVET College. "With the new curricula, the development agents are trained to teach small farmers how to become more productive and conserve resources."

These goals are not contradictory, as he shows with a concrete example: farmers can immediately improve their nutrition as well as improving their income by planting fruit trees. At the same time, the trees help to regulate the water balance in the soil, thus preventing both soil dehydration and flood-induced soil erosion. Meanwhile, grass grows on the rehabilitated land, which serves as grazing land for cattle.

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IAK Agrar Consulting

IAK Agrar Consulting GmbH is a German agricultural-based consulting company based in Leipzig. IAK has 35 years of expierence in international cooperation IAK working both for public donor organisations and for private enterprises in Germany and abroad.

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