Our innovation is the development of Aybar BBM. Aybar is the name of the company while BBM stands for Broad Bed and furrow Maker. Broad Bed and Furrows (BBF) are constructed at planting in order to drain excess water in vertisols. Vertisols are fine textured soils that exhibit poor drainage. Poor drainage results in water-logging which suffocates the crop leading to reduced crop yields or even complete crop failure.
In the Ethiopian highlands alone, there are about 7.6Million hectares of vertisols out of which farmers use only 25% for crop production mainly because of water-logging problems. In other countries, such as in India, farmers use bullock drawn BBM to drain excess water from vertisols. However, those prototypes were found to be too heavy for the local breeds of oxen.
Research to come up with an appropriate BBM prototype started in Ethiopia, some 30 years ago. However, farmers rejected the first prototype and the subsequent versions that were developed by different international and domestic research institutes and universities mainly because of their high draft power requirements and inability to construct the desired BBF. Aybar BBM was developed following a different approach and it has addressed all the complaints of farmers.
Aybar Engineering PLC has been manufacturing the implement over the last three years. Aybar BBM is the only product, which the company manufactures for sale. Farmers found Aybar BBM superior to the previous version in all of the ten criteria they set. The technology enabled farmers to use agricultural inputs more efficiently raising crop yields from 0.5 – 1.5 ton/hectare to 3.5 - 7ton/ha. Success stories of farmers have been broadcasted by the Ethiopian Television and Radio several times. The innovation has been selected as the best innovation in Agriculture by the Ministry of Ethiopian Science and Technology.
Aybar BBM has also made it possible to plant the main crop (wheat) earlier thereby enabling farmers to practice double cropping (planting legumes such as chickpea) thus giving an extra yield of up to 3ton/ha of chickpea. In addition, some farmers stored the excess water in a pond and used it later for animal drink and production of vegetables. In this way, farmers transformed their cropping intensity from a low yielding single crop per year to triple cropping.
The technology does not only prevent excess water from suffocating crops but it utilizes the excess water (that would have reduced yield of the main crop) but it also resulted in storing the excess water for later use. Aybar BBM is a multipurpose implement in that by detaching the bed maker it can be used as a ridger. Farmers have used it as a tie-ridger in dry areas by retaining rainwater in the field thereby reducing runoff losses. In other areas, farmers have used the implement to make furrows for small scale irrigation.