Optimizing tillage and rain water conservation in the soils of Hamelmalo region of Eritrea for arresting soil degradation and achieving sustainable high crop yields
Optimizing tillage and rain water conservation in the soils of Hamelmalo region of Eritrea for arresting soil degradation and achieving sustainable high crop yields
The Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC) is located in the Anseba region of Eritrea about 12 km north of the regional capital of Keren town.
HAC is established as a centre of excellence in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Management to train and develop graduates, execute fundamental, strategic and applied research on various agricultural and resources management problems, provide agricultural outreach services, and establish institutional capacity in the national agricultural and natural resources management research systems to fulfill the agricultural policy of Eritrea.
The project will be implemented in three representative villages of mini-watersheds in the sub-Zoba of Hamelmalo and the technology output will be demonstrated to the farmers, concerned government and semi-government organization to benefit about 7600 households in Hamelmalo region. In addition, the project will help in capacity development of about 105 students of the Land Resources and Environment (LREN) as participants of the project and about 1885 students of Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC) in learning the technology as part of their education on modern agricultural practices to arrest land degradation and attain environment and food security in the country.
Overall objective is to popularize optimum tillage and rain water conservation technology intervention into the conventional farming system in the Hamelmalo region to arrest soil degradation and attain sustainable high crop yields.

As per plan the local community is involved in the design and implementation of the approaches on the farmers’ fields. The objective is aimed to achieve through active practical field training to farmers and farming communities, NGO’S, concerned staff of the Zoba administration, concerned staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and a large number of students of HAC particularly those in the Land Resources and Environment coming from different parts of the country. The intended benefits from the integrated watershed development including optimum tillage and rain water management technology, cropping systems involving trees, crops and fodder will also be shared with a large number of farming community, NGO’S, Zoba officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and concerned National Agricultural Research Institute scientists in the country through farmers’ day and workshops for its thorough impact and dissemination.

As mentioned above, the project will support communities to gain both immediate/short- and long-term benefits. The short-term benefits include increased production of grain and fodder, reduced soil, organic carbon and nutrient loss, possibility of two crops whether as intercrop or in rotation in a year, reduced tillage cost, and knowledge of a healthy environment friendly technology. The long-term benefits include availability of trees in agroforestry system i.e tree plantation on bunds or in the field under agroforestry system. The roots of trees have tremendous effect on soil quality improvement. Maintaining vegetation (either crops or trees) ensures carbon sequestration in soil and plant and thus contributes to control of global warming.

Objective-wise expected project outcomes are:-

• Effect of tillage on seed placement, seedling emergence and crop establishment demonstrated to farmers both at the HAC farm as well as on their fields from the beginning to end of the operations and optimum tillage for sorghum established and demonstrated.
• Farmers trained about terracing and the terracing of their fields demonstrated.
• Farmers convinced about feasibility of rain water conservation in soil through terracing, leveling and bunding and its cost effectiveness.
• Farmers convinced about usefulness of the proposed tillage, terracing, leveling and bunding in soil and water conservation and crop performance.
• Farmers convinced about the profitability of the proposed tillage/seeding system, rain water conservation technology, and the cropping system for adoption.
• Farmers convinced about the possibility of intercropping of sorghum-cowpea and sorghum-pegionpea, and sorghum-cowpea in rotation.
• Farmers demonstrated and convinced about benefits from the agroforestry system at HAC farm.
• Appropriate bullock-drawn seeder made available through local artisans/manufacturers for use by farmers at a reasonable cost.
This is 18 months project – December 2012 to June 2014, targeting a total population of 38,000 or 7600 households.
Total budget of the project is ERN 1,200,000.00 or USD 80,000.00 with a contribution of GEF-SGP of Nakfa 750,000.00 or USD 50,000 and the same amount also will be contributed from community & government institutions.

The sustainability of the project results is seriously taken into account by focusing on building the capacity of stakeholders. During this process the technology can be interwoven with the local knowledge of site- and -user specific problems and practices, and farmers would get sufficient time to educate and imbibe the theory and practice of the technology finalized through their joint efforts. The farmers’ involvement in monitoring, assessing, selecting and incorporating improvements in the conventional practice during demonstration is necessary to build confidence, project sustainability and thorough realization of the needed intervention in the existing farming practice. Farmers also need to be trained about better land use planning depending upon capability of the land such as providing areas for raising grasses and trees for fodder and fuel, possible crop rotations, and soil conservation without reducing the crop land and yields. Manifold increases in production would guarantee significant incentives for farmers to adopt and maintain the SWC measures. Moreover, the contribution made by different stakeholders especially by the community and local government reinforces the widely held conviction of project sustainability.


Project Snapshot

Hamelmalo Agricultural College
Area Of Work:
Land Degradation
Grant Amount:
US$ 40,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 23,500.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 16,500.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Number of innovations or new technologies developed / applied 4
Number of individuals (gender diaggregated) who have benefited* from SGP project 1988

Grantee Contact

Mr System Administrator


Keren , Anseba , 397

SGP Country office contact

Ms. Freweini Negash
Mr. Alemseged Moges


Hday street
Asmara, East Africa, 5366