Educational background

Over the past decade, the higher learning education and Agricultural Research Institutes enormously expanded in Ethiopia. New Public universities were established and their number increased from 9 in 2003 to 33 in 2014 (Ministry of Education, 2013). Similarly, private colleges/universities flourished in major cities and towns of Ethiopia. Most public universities provide trainings in agricultural and natural resources management programs, while private universities and colleges focus on social study programs. Annual admission rate for both public and private higher institution for undergraduate study has nearly tripled from around 200,000 students in 2006/2007 to almost 500,000 students in 2011/2012 while graduate and post- graduate education (MA/MSc and PhD) is still limited, growing from approximately 7,000 to over 25,000 students in the same period. Moreover, among technical and vocational colleges 25 are mandated to closely work with and serve the rural community in agriculture and natural resources management. Graduates of the technical colleges are expected to serve as development agents in rural peasant association.

Ambo University is one of the newly recognised universities with the purpose of creating ethical and competent professionals, undertaking applied research and providing community services in a bid to contribute its part in accelerating and integrating the overall socio-economic progress of the nation. The university holds the fact that its mission remains unaccomplished if staffs are not developed academically. Despite its efforts to strengthen the capacity of academic staff in education and research, the university is facing critical shortage of qualified local staff members. For example, the Department of Biology is responsible for hundreds of undergraduate and MSc students. Most lectures for graduate students in environmental science, aquaculture and fisheries are given by guest lecturers coming from other institutions.

Similar to the expansion of universities, agricultural research centres flourished in the past couple of decades following decentralisation. At federal level, the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR) constitutes 16 research centres in different regions, and more than 30 regional research centres are conducting research in their respective regions. The National Fishery and Aquatic Research Center (NFALRC) is one of the federal research centres of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and is mandated to develop and adapt new technologies that ensure sustainable utilisation of various aquatic resources in the country. However, these specific responsibilities are constrained by several factors such as limited human and institutional capacity.