Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB)-Ethiopia West Node established at Jimma University

Jimma University organized a consultative workshop in collaboration with an Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Ethiopia chapter, hosted by the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). The conference was held on 15 July, 2017 at Jimma University, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. Different universities in the western cluster (Mettu, Mizan-Tepi, Assosa, Gambella, Wolkite, and Wollega) and other stakeholders from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change – south-western Ethiopia; Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (Jimma Center); Jimma Agricultural Research Center, Jimma zone Agriculture and Natural Resources Office; Jimma Zone Livestock and Fisheries Development Office; and a representative from the private sector participated in the consultative workshop.

The workshop was aimed to establish West Node-OFAB Ethiopia-chapter in one of West Cluster Universities in Ethiopia. The workshop was started by welcoming address delivered by Prof. Debela Hunde, the workshop coordinator, followed by the official opening speech by Dr. Tsige Ketema, Vice President for Research and Community Services of Jimma University. In her speech, she highlighted that OFAB Ethiopia chapter is an African wide initiative aimed at networking different African countries. This forum, she said, provides a common platform for the role players from different institutions, to meet and discuss on issues related to biotechnology and its relation to agricultural development in Africa.  Accordingly, the OFAB-Ethiopia chapter is working to facilitate the flow of information among the scientific community and stakeholders, to know one another, share knowledge and experience, make new contacts and explore new avenues of bringing the benefits of all aspects of biotechnology to the Ethiopian agricultural sector. In her speech she mentioned that with this objective, OFAB-Ethiopia has already established different nodes including South node at Arbaminch University, North node at University of Gondar, and East node at Haramaya University; and therefore, the consultative meeting was to establish the foreseen West node.

The roles and responsibilities of each node were explained by Dr. Endale Gebre, the director for Biotechnology Research at EIAR and focal person for OFAB-Ethiopia. According to Dr. Endale, each node has a secretariat composed of three persons and a programing committee (PC) composed of representatives from the seven universities in the west cluster and up to nine representatives from different stakeholders. After series of discussions among the consultative workshop participants, all the stakeholders have agreed on the establishment of the OFAB-Ethiopia West Node at Jimma University. Accordingly, Jimma University assigned Prof. Kassahun Bantte, the head for Animal and Plant Biotechnology Research Center, as a focal person, who will serve as the chairperson for the secretariat.