Farewell to Amanuel, founder of Prolinnova–Ethiopia

Amanuel Assefa Ezezu, 1960-2019 (credit: Chesha Wettasinha)

The Prolinnova network mourns the unexpected death of Amanuel Assefa Ezezu in December 2019 in Addis Ababa.

Amanuel played an important role in the Prolinnova network from very early on. While he was working with the NGO AgriService Ethiopia (ASE), he was a driving force behind setting up the Prolinnova multistakeholder platform in his country, which he initially gave the acronym PROFIEET (Promoting Farmer Innovation and Experimentation in Ethiopia), and he was the founding coordinator of the platform. He and his colleagues in PROFIEET hosted our first International Partners Workshop (IPW), which was held in Yirgalem in southern Ethiopia in March 2004.

Amanuel was elected as the first member from anglophone African countries in the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG), the governance body of the international network that was set up immediately after the Yirgalem workshop. He served in the POG until he went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to do his PhD in agricultural innovation systems. He continued to work closely with the (later renamed) Prolinnova–Ethiopia network after completion of his doctoral studies, and organised and conducted many training events and workshops related to participatory innovation development (PID). He was always very keen on mainstreaming PID into governmental and nongovernmental organisations and institutions of higher learning.

He remained in the core team of Prolinnova–Ethiopia even after he had left ASE and joined the Ethiopian company Precise Consult International (PCI) to manage a USAID agribusiness incubator project. Moreover, from May 2017 to March 2019, he was the Subregional Coordinator for Prolinnova in Eastern & Southern Africa. At the same time, he was heavily involved in other initiatives concerned with agricultural knowledge and innovation systems, including the Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) implemented by Agrinatura and FAO.

Amanuel was very passionate about facilitating networking, sharing and joint learning and was tireless in his efforts to bring multiple stakeholders around the same table – and the same plot of land or herd of animals with the farmer innovator explaining what s/he was doing.

He will be sorely missed in Ethiopia and also in the wider Prolinnova network.