Bioeconomy Africa (BEA) is an international non-governmental, secular, not-for-profit organization legally established in 2003 (previously known as Bioeconomy Association now Bioeconomy Africa) in Ethiopia to promote and replicate the holistic Bioeconomy system with health improvement packages and climate change adaptation/ mitigation concepts and initiatives. BEA focuses on both indigenous and experimental scientific knowledge. Furthermore, it enhances hands-on integrated capacity building using system-based problem solving adaptive management.
In 1995 something extraordinary happened on the out skins of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. On what was once a barren and gravely degraded and marginalized hillside, these is now a model system-based sustainable agriculture and natural resource management called “Integrated Biofarm Center (IBC)” that not only protects and enhances the environment but also improves the quality of life of the surrounding and distant communities. Currently the IBC is established in four African countries (Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Kenyan Government)
Furthermore, the Biofarm is also used as a model teaching center for students coming from all corners of the country. The basic principle being “Learning in the real world”.
Today, where once there was environmental, decay, there is restoration where there was once a lack of answers to environmental, social and economic problems. New ideas in ecological, economic and social capital development are being implemented. The Biofarm is a cultural landmark for Ethiopia, linking scientists, economists, environment-talist, farmers and students alike.
The basic philosophy of the initiative promoted by the organization includes:
- To work with nature rather than against nature (Nature-based approach)
- Return what has been taken away to overcome resource depletion (Sustainability)
- Cooperation rather than competition (Partnership Approach)
- To promote demand driven science-led development in an integrated fashion, through awareness building training, and technology transfer (Demand driven, Integrated and Science led development)
- Changing challenges and threats to opportunities.
To see Africa emerging as Green, Peaceful, Prosperous and Trading Nations evolving through Innovative Knowledge-Based Economy.
Practical and problem solving capacity building and demand driven technology transfer to enhance social, economic and ecological capital building process to improve livelihood and restore the environment.
The major objectives of BEA are the following:
- To promote bio intensive systems for balanced food production, maintenance of soil fertility and environment protection and to promote the whole or partial replication of the Biofarm
- To promote learning in the real world (practical and problem solving education)
- To establish farmer-to-farmer training who will ultimately build knowledge-based economy supported by monitoring backstopping and impact assessment
- To establishment strong partnerships with major and proactive national, regional and international organizations.
- To transfer various sustainable technologies to enhance food and water, energy, production, water management and utilization as well as pest and vector control
- To promote income generation through aggro-processing,
The unique feature of the initiative being the monitoring, evaluation and innovation part which will be done by the post graduate follows at Yeha Institute, sister organization of BEA.
Biointensive Farming System clearly demonstrates that ecological factors influence or limit social, cultural and economic dynamic of the society. Several appropriate technologies (eg. biogas, solar panels, double digging, water harvest and utilization techniques, hydroponics, modern beehives, botanicals, vermiculture, verticulture, sericulture and integrated pest and vector management have been tested, validated and demonstrated. These technologies can restore the environment, improve livelihood and create wealth.
- Identification of opportunities and challenges through field survey, demonstration centers, training and operational research centers and farmers academy.
- Establishment of a strong network and partnership with relevant institutions and organizations.
- Development of capacity building packages/systems when and where there is a need.
- Training of trainers (TOT) household based, participatory and eco-friendly transfer of technologies
- Follow-up of trainers and backstopping of their activities
- Transfer of interactive and tested technologies and partial/whole replication of Biofarm system
- Promote Science & Technology using exhibitions, newsletters, video, etc. for children, women and farmers
- Adoption studies and impact assessment of technologies to know the diffusion status and the actual contribution of the technologies to the beneficiaries.
- Promote participatory and adaptive population and ecosystem management schemes.
The Integrated Biofarm Center in partnership with Bioeconomy Africa and Yeha Institute has accomplished the following:
- A total of 30,000 farmers, students, extension workers and mid-level professionals were trained. There were 15,000 visitors since its establishment. Six model Biofarm have been established in Addis, Asella, Mekele, Ghibe valley, Assosa, Sebeta and five new biofarms are being established in different African countries. Over five hundred Biogas digesters are built in partnership with national and international organizations.
- Two model private educational academies with a capacity of 2,000 students have been established in Addis Ababa and Mekelle. The initiative have awarded 100 scholarship to poor, talented students.
- A model integrated community based vector control and biofarming project is established in Tolay settlement Ghibe Valley and Assosa, Benshangul Gumuz national state.
Currently, three Farmer Academies are being established, which has a unique facility and demonstration model to train 5,000 farmers and development workers per year.