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Climate Smart Agriculture Research and Innovation Support for Dairy Value Chains in Eritrea (CSARIDE)

DeSIRA | Project Description | Project Management and Governance | Activities | Reports and Documentation | Publications | Events | Other Outputs | Latest NewsContact

Funded by the European Union



The objective of the DeSIRA initiative (Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture, in short DeSIRA) is to contribute to climate-relevant, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low and middle-income countries.

DeSIRA aims to put more science into development considering that the solutions needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are context specific. It contributes primarily to the achievement of SDG 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land).

Its focus is on supporting research and innovation projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and strengthening research capacities and research governance involving key actors at national, regional, continental and global levels.

With such a perspective, research for innovation needs to combine fundamental and participatory or action-research based on a plausible theory of change to achieve desirable impacts at scale. This means that research must embrace several activities in partnership with other actors: knowledge production, design of methods, facilitation, capacity building, expertise, etc.

To support innovation processes, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of researchers and research organizations to design, monitor and assess research to achieve impacts and address the urgent challenges. There is also a need to strengthen the capacity to innovate of a much larger range of actors: farmers, farmers’ organizations, local communities, NGOs, private sector, and public sector.

The top-down transfer of knowledge and technology model is no longer valid to address the systemic changes needed to promote sustainable food systems in a context of rapid transitions. Because innovation is a complex process, embracing technical, organizational and institutional dimensions, and mobilizing a wide range of actors (farmers, farmers’ organizations, NGOs, advisory services, private firms, etc.), public policies need to rely on a multi-stakeholder approach to produce new knowledge making use of scientific advances.

Website: https://europa.eu/capacity4dev/desira

Project Description


The livelihoods of close to 70% of the Eritrean population are based on subsistence agriculture, which accounts for less than 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 20-30% of its commodity exports. The performance of the agricultural sector is hampered by over-reliance on traditional farming practices, environmental degradation, and climate change. These constraints lead to low levels of agricultural production and productivity.

The sector is further weakened by underdeveloped value chains, including the dairy value chain, which suffers from weaknesses in input supply, market access, a weak processing sector and low value addition. Over 50% of the total milk produced is sold informally in the local market and less than 20,000 litres are processed daily by five processing plants. Seasonality of demand linked to the two big local fasting seasons is a major problem for both farmers and processors. To date, agri-food research and innovation systems have failed to impact in a significant way on the lives and livelihoods of smallholder dairy farmers. This is due to problems such as inadequate public policies and government investments to create a favourable innovation climate in agriculture. As a result, major research gaps exist all along the dairy value chain from production to processing.

For more, see:





Title Climate Smart Agriculture Research and Innovation Support for Dairy Value Chains in Eritrea
Type Project / Grant (identification EU FOOD/2019/411-806)
Donor(s) European Union, under "EU initiative on climate-relevant innovation through research in agriculture and food systems in developing countries – DeSIRA" 
Implementing partner(s) Teagasc - The Agricultural and Food Development Authority (Lead applicant); VITA; University College Cork (UCC); University College Dublin (UCD); LUKE - Natural Resources Institute Finland; Self Help Africa (SHA); Greenfield International.
National partners: Ministry of Agriculture (MoA); National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI); Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC); Maekel, Debub, Anseba  Zoba (region) Administrations
Budget EU contribution: EUR 4,000,000
Overall budget: EUR 4,248,057
Duration 52 months, including 4 months inception phase 
Starting date of activities:  February 3rd, 2020
End date of activities: June 2nd , 2024
Location Zobas Maekel, Debub, Anseba
Final beneficiaries 1200 beneficiaries  (estimate)  
Sector(s)/Sub-sector(s) Food security,  Agriculture,  Livestock, Environment
Impact/Overall objective(s) Inclusive, sustainable and climate-relevant transformation of the Eritrean dairy value chain to enhance food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, create job opportunities for young people, and promote resilience to climate change while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
Outcome/Specific objective(s)
  1. Improved climate smart dairy farming production and productivity leading to enhanced supply of quality dairy products, improving household income and generating employment along an equitable value chain (Outcome 1).
  2. Enhanced organizational capacity and enterprise skills of dairy value chain actors with capacity to adopt/promote new technologies (Outcome 2).
  3. Enhanced service delivery and support of institutional actors on climate smart innovation and knowledge management along the dairy value chain (Outcome 3).
  4. Increased access to information and knowledge on climate smart agriculture (CSA) practices, tools and approaches for the wider public (Outcome 4).


The CSARIDE project will promote market-led agricultural development, building on the experience of the Irish partners who have been working on a pilot dairy project in Zoba Debub over the past eight years. The pilot project will be fully absorbed into CSARIDE with the overall objective of promoting inclusive, sustainable and climate-relevant transformation of the Eritrean dairy value chain to enhance food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, create job opportunities for young people, and promote resilience to climate change while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

The project will target the following dairy value chain actors and the key public sector support agencies:

  1. resource-poor livestock farmers;
  2. private and cooperative input and output market agents and service suppliers, including milk collection and processing entities and dairy farmers’ associations, as well as AI and veterinary services;
  3. small-scale entrepreneurs (e.g. Eritrea Women in Agri-Business Association); and
  4. public-sector bodies including the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), Hamelmalo Agricultural College (HAC), MoA, and regional governments (Zobas).

Administrative Regions of Eritrea

CSARIDE will focus on the entire dairy value chain from farm to market in three Zobas, namely Debub, Maekel and Anseba. (These are the main dairying areas in the country). The project will build on and complement ongoing Ministry actions in those areas as well as linking in with existing and proposed internationally-funded development projects in Eritrea. We will work closely with the EU Delegation in Eritrea, with IFAD, FAO and ILRI.

See also:

Full Grant Application Form: Grant Application Form (PDF)

Project Management and Governance

A consortium of international and national organizations is responsible for implementing the project. The project lead is Teagasc (www.teagasc.ie), which with co-applicants LUKE (www.luke.fi), University College Dublin (www.ucd.ie),  University College Cork (www.ucc.ie), Vita (https://vita.ie/), and SHA (https://selfhelpafrica.org),  is providing international-level inputs. MoA departments, Hamelmalo Agriculture College (HAC) and Zoba administrations are associates. Each international partner contributes across the project in addition to contributing specialist expertise in key areas. Additional international expertise will be added as required during the implementation phase.

The overall approach to project management stresses the need for the active participation of stakeholders at all levels. This approach reinforces DeSIRA principles and values and those of the implementing partners and associates. The participative approach will support the need for strong links between all actors in the value chain, both public and private. The approach will also facilitate meaningful community involvement while ensuring that the project is fully aligned with national plans and frameworks.

Mr Kahsay Negash (negashk@gmail.com) has been seconded by the MoA as Project Manager and leader of the National Project Management Team (NPMT). He is also responsible for the activities of each of the three Zoba implementation teams through three Zoba co-ordinators. He reports to the Project Co-ordinator.


Sep 2016Dr Lance O'Brien (lance.obrien@teagasc.ie) is the Project Coordinator. Dr O’Brien is directly accountable to the EU Office in Eritrea (EUDE) for all matters relating to project implementation.



An implementation team has been established in each of the three Zobas. These teams are responsible for working with the NPMT and in partnership with local stakeholders to develop and implement interventions in the regions. Each team will comprise a regional coordinator, livestock experts and support staff. International team members will be assigned to support each of these local teams.

A National Steering Committee (NSC), chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, provides high-level project governance. The NSC meets four times a year and its main tasks are to ensure that project activities are aligned with national and regional research and development priorities; identify gaps in value chain research and development which may be filled within the project logic framework; create synergies with major government programs; review/make recommendations for the annual programme of work and budget.


Capacity Development (immediate outcome no. 1)

CSARIDE capacity development will focus on producers and other VC actors, including private/cooperative input/service suppliers and the public sector actors. Preliminary investigations along with knowledge from the ongoing pilot dairy project indicate that these actors have limited capacity to engage in participatory action and research, multi-stakeholder processes and market-oriented agriculture: therefore they need specific capacity building. Also, women’s participation in production is very low and a particular focus needs to be directed towards meeting their specific needs and demands to enable them participate effectively in new value chains.

To fill the gaps in capacity, a programme will be developed comprising training, mentoring/coaching and follow-up and institutionalization. Postgraduate training to MSc and PhD levels will also be supported for staff in NARI, HAC and the MoA. Actions implemented will aim to strengthen capacities for innovation and to innovate and the collective learning capacity of VC actors to develop sustainable and profitable dairy value chains.

Fundamental to our strategy for delivery of CDKM initiatives is our proposal to establish a Capacity Development/Knowledge Management Unit (CDKMU) in collaboration with FAO. This initiative provides an opportunity for CSARIDE and TAP-FAO DeSIRA (FAO project) to collaborate on developing and strengthening capacity within Eritrea through cultivating strong links with institutions in Eritrea (NARI, HAC etc.).

Knowledge Management and Learning (immediate outcome no. 2)

The agriculture sector is increasingly characterized by new policies, actors, and relationships that influence the ways in which information and knowledge is generated, accessed, and used by extension staff, producers, and other users. Improved flow of information and knowledge to, from, and within the extension system is key to realizing agricultural transformation. A well-functioning knowledge management system is critical for market- oriented agricultural development to increase access to and use of knowledge about markets, improved technologies, innovations and new organizational forms.

Value Chain Development (immediate outcome no. 3)

A set of generic gender and environmentally friendly value chain interventions will be developed for consultation within the Commodity Platform. Generic value chain interventions are broadly defined interventions emphasizing the objective of the interventions and some general characteristics. Location specific design will be developed in discussion with the VC actors and service providers in the Commodity Platform as an integral part of the implementation process. We plan to use this approach because it intends to benefit from the innovation capacity of the VC actors and service providers involved.

Promotion, Documentation and Monitoring (outcome no. 4)

A strategy for promoting project approaches and interventions within and outside the study areas was developed during the PIP planning phase and will be reviewed annually. Two main targets are envisaged for promotional activities, i.e. location specific promotion/scaling out in learning Zobas and non-location specific promotion for programmes in and outside Eritrea. In addition, a programme will be developed annually to generate evidence/knowledge/lessons on the dairy value chain and actions undertaken.

The PIP Eritrea Dairy Project-Project Implementation Plan (PIP) (pdf)

Reports and Documentation

Annual Narrative Reports

Report on Year 1 Actions: Eritrea Dairy project-First Annual Report (pdf)


Annual Action Plans

Year 1: 3 February 2020 - 2 February 2021 (pdf)


Administrative Documents

The PIP Process: Eritrea Dairy Project-Project Implementation Plan (PIP) (pdf)

Project Communications Plan 2020 (pdf)

Project Handbook (pdf) 


Other Project Reports

Baseline Survey Report (pdf)


Scientific publications

Technical publications

Popular publications



Other events

Other Outputs


Latest News



Dr Lance O’Brien, Project Co-ordinator, Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Co. Carlow, R93 XE12, Ireland
Email: Lance.obrien@teagasc.ie
Phone: 00 353 59 9170200

Mr Kahsay Negash, Project Manager, EIDP Office, Asmara, Eritrea
Email: negashk@gmail.com
Phone: 00 291 1111031