KoBo training at the University of Jimma

In the course of a business trip to Ethiopia, DBFZ scientists held two training sessions at the partner university in Jimma, focusing on the use of the KoBo toolbox. This is a freely usable software for creating digital questionnaires, which are very helpful in the standardised collection of data and are used in the ETH_Soil project to collect important field data. In addition, KoBo-Toolbox can also be usefully applied in many other areas, which is why the demand was far greater than expected and came from a wide range of faculties at the University of Jimma. Despite some technical challenges due to power outages, the courses were held successfully. In total, about 100 people participated, of which about half were graduate students (MSc/Ph.D.) and the other half consisted of university staff. 


Within the framework of the ETH-Soil project, the first Soil Symposium was organised in Addis Abeba on the 28th of February 2023. On behalf of the Oromia Bureau of Agriculture, greeting were expressed by Mrs. Shitaye Lemma. She highlighted the priorities of the Bureau and underlined the importance of more high quality organic fertilizer production for the agricultural transformation in Oromia.
The programme exposed 29 participants to informative reports on sustainable land use successes already achieved in the framework of Ethio-German cooperation (Dr. Steffen Schulz). Andrea Wilhemi-Somé (GIZ) outlined the revised Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) strategy under review as well as the many initiatives supported on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation supporting ecological preservation as well as productivity and income generation in the Ethiopian agriculture and resulting value chains. Prof. Dr. Bruno Glaser (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg) provided participants with a profound overview of globally available insight on various beneficial effects of #biochar as a soil amendment for degraded #tropical soils.
DBFZ made samples of certified biochar augmented with nutrients available to all participants. Dr. Annett Pollex complemented these samples with her presentation of European quality standards for biochar. Johannes Meyer zu Drewer, ITHAKA Institute, explained the preconditions and mechanism to be in place for CO2-sequestration to lead to benefits effectively paid to farmers, who invest efforts in the production and application of biochar.
On behalf of the Dutch NGO SNV, that is currently managing the EU support to updating the Ethiopian biogas strategy, Carlos Bueso Valera outlined past achievements and future plans to put more emphasis on the fertilizing effect of digestates. Finally, Stefan Majer (DBFZ) gave a brief overview on LCA calculation before Dr. Volker Lenz and Kerstin Wilde closed the Symposium with a brief outline on further project activities.



Within the ETH-Soil project, agricultural or forestry residues are to be used as feedstock for biochar production. In Ethiopia, coffee husks are produced in large quantities as residual material during coffee production and are currently not used due to their properties. Initial experiments at the DBFZ have shown, that the selected process is fundamentally suitable for producing biochar from coffee husks. The biochar produced fulfill the European EBC-Agro criteria for soil application regarding the PAH content. In the further course, the production process will be further developed and optimized with a special focus on air pollutants. Picture: © Dennis Krüger



Land degradation through erosion and overuse are clearly visible in the Ethiopian Rift Valley during inland flights. Happily, strengthened efforts in watershed management, reforestation and agroforestry are also visible in some places.
A Team of the DBFZ visited the Sidama Region (16th to 18th January 2023) and gained new insights on ongoing development efforts. Colleagues from the GIZ project ‘Strengthening Rural Value Chains in Ethiopia’, Abiy Amanuel and Tafesech Bolka, outlined their plans for strengthened production and processing of soya beans, avocado and onion. They rendered invaluable support to Kerstin Wilde and the DBFZ project coordinator, Getachew Eshete Beyene (PhD), by facilitating contact establishment to relevant stakeholders. Regional visions for soil rehabilitation, potentials and needs were discussed with the Sidama Bureau of
Agriculture at Hawassa as well as with the Manager of a nearby agro-industrial park and two entrepreneurs.
In addition, the team exchanged perspectives with the Vice President for Research and Academic Affairs of Hawassa University, Tafesse Matewos (PhD). Research on soil properties, carbon sequestration and fertilizer suitability for main crops is spearheaded by Prof. Sheleme Beyene, Alemayehu kiflu (PhD) and Wassie Haile (PhD). Meanwhile the future of the Southern Agricultural Research Institute is under discussion. New regional delineations will become effective in the very near future.



Due to the high interest among faculties of Jimma University, the first meeting with the DBFZ-Team had to be transferred from a meeting room to a lecture hall at the Jimma University in Ethiopia on 28 September 2022. Roman Adam, Dr. Steffi Formann, Prof. Dr. P.-Walter Stinner, Dr. Marcel Pohl, Markus Lenhart, Dr. Sven Schaller, and Kerstin Wilde participated in the mission. The aim was to advance planning of construction works for a biogas plant as well as experience exchange on past efforts in pyrolysis cookstove development, biochar and organic fertiliser production. The exchange also covered existing curricula and teaching capacities as well as new academic units for the advancement of consultancy, training and project implementation. Dr. Netsanet Workineh, Vice President for Research and Community Services of Jimma University, welcomed the DBFZ team on behalf of the President, Dr. Jemal Abafita (PhD). She underlined the full readiness of Jimma University to cooperate on the ETH-Soil project.

On behalf of the DBFZ team, ETH-Soil project manager Kerstin Wilde presented the background, main components and expected outcomes of the project. She also expressed full appreciation of Jimma University’s expertise in #biochar production and application as well as related research publications. The DBFZ team was more than happy to finally get into direct contact with colleagues and was extremely grateful for the warm welcome.

Cooperation partners at Jimma University who waited patiently for the projects‘ take off and greately facilitated preparations as well as the first DBFZ visit, like Abebe Nigussie (PhD, Assistant Prof. of Soil Quality / Fertility), took the opportunity to highlight the extend of soil degradation in Ethiopia, competencies and research achievements of the agricultural faculty. Likewise, Prof. Venkata Ramaya, summarised and illustrated all the efforts undertaken in past years with respect to functional pyrolysis cookstoves as well as the learnings derived during the process. 

Lastly, the aspirations of Jimma University were highlighted with short introductions to the newly created „Renewable Energy Research, Development & Training Center“ (Dr. Emirew Getahun) and the „Ethiopian Institute of Resilience to Climate Change“ (Dr. Kefelegn Getahun).



What are the paths of women and girls into science, where are the opportunities and barriers for a scientific career in Germany and Ethiopia and what are the very personal experiences on this path? On the occasion of the "International Day of Women and Girls in Science", female colleagues from the DBFZ and HTW Berlin got together for a virtual discussion as part of the Ethiopia project "ETH-Soil". (GERMAN LANGUAGE)


Dr. Annett Pollex, DBFZ (Thermochemical Conversion Department)
Prof. Dr. Asnakech Lass-Seyoum (HTW Berlin)
Uta Schmieder, DBFZ (Bioenergy Systems Department, Policy Advice)
Felix Thiel, DBFZ (former Project leader ETH-Soil)


We celebrate World Soil Day on December 5. It is a day created by the United Nations to raise awareness about soil degradation around the globe, and make clear the threat that unchecked soil degradation poses to ecosystems and people. read more



In the presence of the Ethiopian Ambassador, H.E. Mulu Solomon Bezuneh, representatives of the Saxon State Chancellery and project managers from DBFZ, the official launch of the "ETH-Soil" project for soil improvement in Ethiopia took place on 6 September. The aim of the five-year project coordinated by DBFZ is to improve food security in three pilot regions in the Oromia region of Ethiopia through the application of biofertilisers from pyrolysis and biogas plants. read more



During his visit to the DBFZ, Member of the German Bundestag Carsten Körber (CDU) accompanied by Mr Christoph Schmitt (Saxon State Chancellery) informed himself on 17 August in Leipzig about the scope, details and concrete research developments of the large Ethiopia project "ETH-Soil". The project, coordinated by the DBFZ and running for 5 1/2 years, aims to improve food security in three pilot regions of the Oromia region/Ethiopia through the application of biofertiliser from pyrolysis and biogas plants. With a total budget of 18.4 million euros, the project is the DBFZ's largest single project to date. We sincerely thank MdB Körber for his extensive support!