Rhizobium inoculant technology to sustainably improve crops in Ethiopia

Arba Minch University proposes to improve the production of legume crops and livelihoods in southern Ethiopia by using an alternative method of supplying nutrients: rhizobacteria that enhance plant growth.


In Southern Ethiopia, food security is threatened by the limited soil nutrient, poor input supply and agronomic management problems. In particular, majority of the farmers owe small farms, who do not often use fertilizers, as the cost of fertilizer is very high, and accompanied by little in investment return. Finding alternative method to sustainably supply smallholder farmers with a basket of options to improve their crop production could change the situation and help them improve their income.


To sustainably supply smallholder farmers and improve the production of legume crops, Arba Minch University proposes to use plant growth, promoting rhizobacteria. In Ethiopia, this proven methodology is rarely used and limited to larger cities.

The project aims at designing crop and location specific rhizobial inoculants to use as cost effective bio fertilizers, bringing this technology to smallholder farmers’ field in southern Ethiopia to sustainably improve their livelihoods. Smallholder farmers from 22 provinces will be selected for assessment, trainings and rhizobia collection to acquaint with the rhizobium technology before taking to their fields.

FID’s funding will allow to sort and reorganize laboratory and greenhouse facilities in Arba Minch University in order to explore rhizobia. In order to establish the key lessons from the intervention, the University will conduct survey and assessment of legume cultivation and production in the southern most parts of Ethiopia.

Expected results

This project will generate the first evidence of impact of the rhizobium technology on improving legume growth and production, especially in the southern most regions of Ethiopia.

*Rhizobacteria are bacteria that live in the rhizosphere (i.e. the soil that adheres to the roots of plants) which eventually enters the roots, either at the intracellular or intercellular level. Rhizobacteria promote plant growth and health. Therefore, a rhizobacterial inoculant is a rhizobacteria-based agricultural treatment solution.

Presentation of the team

Arba Minch University is an Ethiopian non-profit public higher-education institution, established in 1986 and located in Arba Minch, Gamo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region. The lead unit responsible for the project implementation is the department of biology in the college of natural and computational sciences at Abaya Campus.