Improving Nutrition in Ethiopia through Plant Breeding and Soil Management (CIFSRF)

Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. The problem is especially acute in southern Ethiopia, due to low agricultural productivity and diets heavily dependent on cereals and root crops. Nearly half of all child deaths in this region stem from deficiencies in protein and micronutrients such as vitamin A, iodine, zinc, and iron, and the majority of pregnant women are zinc-deficient.

This project is testing and promoting a whole food strategy in three agro-ecological zones of southern Ethiopia, combining innovative agricultural practices with the introduction of bio-fortified pulses and human nutrition programs. The project trains smallholder farmers in the use of more sustainable farming practices that protect the soil against erosion and increase yields. A strong focus is placed on Ethiopian women as change agents as they adopt and integrate improved production methods into their indigenous farming systems. Adoption of new pulse crop varieties such as high-yielding, fortified chickpeas and haricot beans, combined with improved soil fertility management, is expected to increase crop production and income of small-scale farmers. It is also expected to diversify the food basket consumed by rural households in Ethiopia, leading to improvements in the nutritional status of children and women.

This project is supported by IDRC and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF).

View all related project outputs in the IDRC Digital Library.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, March 1, 2012

End Date

Monday, September 1, 2014


30 months

IDRC Officer

Tiessen, Kevin

Total funding

CA$ 1,596,794


Ethiopia, North of Sahara, South of Sahara, Canada


Canadian International Food Security Research Fund

Project Leader

Dr. Kebede Abegaz

Project Leader

Dr. Sheleme Beyene Jiru


HAWASSA University

Institution Country


Institution Website

Project Leader

Dr. Carol J. Henry


University of Saskatchewan

Institution Country


Institution Website