A number of technological breakthroughs and scientific know-hows that have been registered to date are results of extensive research. It is customary for experts in various fields of study to carry out studies to identify problems and bring new insights on subject matters that have been neglected or not studied before and come up with remedial solutions. Most research undertakings of paramount importance are, hence conducted by institutions of higher education. Founded in 2013, Eritrea Research Fund (ERF) has dispensed a total of 10,000,000 Nakfa for carrying out research on Eritrean studies that cover a wide range of thematic research areas aligned with Eritrea’s development policies and programs. The National Higher Education and Research Institute has been supporting research initiatives taken in various fields of studies.
The ERF organized Research Findings Dissemination Workshop on 16 Feb at the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers Conference Hall. Dr. Haile Mehtsun, Executive Director of National Higher Education and Research Institute expressed deep appreciation to the researchers in his opening address.
During the one-day workshop a total of 13 research papers on Agriculture, Marine Resources, Education and Health were presented. The ERF funded all 13 papers. Prof. Zemrnfes Tsighe gave an overall briefing on ERF.
Most of the research projects presented are congruent with the Eritrean context and cover various development areas. The research conducted in the agriculture sector, for instance, are related to food security through yield augmenting techniques and procedures. Seed priming and transplanting are the research areas conducted in Hamelmalo as wells as in Haykota and Golij. A research finding “Popularization on the effect of seeds priming in sorghum with farmers’ participatory method” was presented by Prof. Woldeamlak Araya.
The researchers carried out farming activities in collaboration with 40 exemplary farmers and have proven that seed priming is cost effective and useful intervention technique appropriate to all farmers regardless of their socio economic status.
Seed priming is practical in the Eritrean context where most regions suffer from erratic rainfall. Since this technique seeps up water imbibitions, germination and shooting of seeds takes place very fast.
A three-year test on seed priming carried out in Hamelmalo showed that Hydro seed priming gave higher yield with a yield increase of 1611 kg/hectare.
According to the findings of the research, both seed priming and transplanting showed encouraging output and, thus, better growth and survival of seedlings have resulted in better yield.
Seeds planted in a nursery and transplanted into the main field minimize the risk of water stress. Transplanting tested in Hykota and Guluj have showed a 15-day earlier maturity of crops compared to direct seeding. Yield obtained through transplanting was 833 kg/hectare as opposed to 567 kg/hectare in direct seeding.
Hydro seed priming showed higher yield, which matches with the evaluation by farmers, as disease incidence, particularly smut incidence, was very low in Hydro seed priming. Transplanting is also another alternative option but it has certain limitations, and seed priming has been identified as more pragmatic and accessible to all farmers.
Another research conducted in agriculture focused on traditional storage systems. Prof. Adugna Haile presented a paper titled “Survey of Stored Products in Farmers’ Storage in the Anseba Region”.
The research on traditional storage system focused on damage caused to traditionally stored seeds mainly due to primary or secondary pests. Studies conducted on various traditional storage systems show high loss rate due to pests’ infestation and poor storage management practices by subsistence farmers. The findings of the research indicate 98% of the farmers affirm that their grains are damaged by pests.
“Prevalence of Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) in cattle, goats, and camels of traditional livestock raising communities in Eritrea” was also another paper presented in the Agriculture sector. Dr. Michael Kahsay presented findings related to routes of transmission of BTB, particularly through dairy products.
Dr. Michael further clarified the economic and zoonotic importance of studying BTB in Eritrea. The fact that BTB can be transmitted to humans is what makes the study of paramount importance. The findings show zero prevalence of BTB on all goats in all regions of Eritrea. Less prevalence of BTB in extensive livestock production and a higher BTB prevalence in intensive livestock production were identified.
Rigorous awareness-raising campaign, compulsory pasteurization, test and voluntary removal, Strict livestock movement control, particlarly in diary farms, were recomnded to prevent any prevalenc of BTB.
“Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants in the Southern Region, Eritrea” was another research conducted in the health sector.
The study indicated that in spite of its vast application and importance, limited work has so far been done on medicinal plantsin the country.
During his presentation on the study of medical plants, Mr. Binyam Yemane said “This study has been initiated to document the plants used in the traditional medical practices of the people of southern region together with the associated Ethnobotanical and Ethnomedicinal knowledge and practices.”
According to the research, a total of 127 medicinal plant species, that belong to 90 genera of 46 families were recorded. Shrubs are the most dominant growth forms for traditional remedies followed by herbs, trees, climbers and trailing herbs. Different parts of plants are used to prepare medicine; leaves were most widely used, followed by roots, fruits, stems and latex. The most widely used medicinal plant species are Fabaceae, Lamiacea, Solanaceae and Asteraceae.
The findings of the research indicate that traditional medicine practitioners have developed their own unique methods of diagnosis and treatment that are specific to their particular cultures. Due to various reasons, many medicinal plants were reported to be endangered and getting lost and, therefore demand an urgent attention to be conserved resources to optimize their use in the primary healthcare system.
The recommendation forwarded by the researchers is that medicinal plant management and conservation must be integrated with other sectors such as health to foster better use of plants and education to build up awareness of the need for their protection.
Similarly, in the health sector, findings on “Knowledge, Attitude and Practice on Breast Cancer among Female Nurses working in Hospitals in Asmara” were shared with the participants of the workshop.
Report of all malignant neoplasm of breast cases of all age groups from all health facilities, in the last 13 years (2004-2016) shows a steady growth, with minor fluctuations in 2005 and 2009.
Results of the research conducted on the attitude of 416 female nurses as regards breast cancer shows that more than half (53.6%) of the participants believed that breast cancer occurs more commonly in old women, 56.5% of the respondents have thoughts that breast cancer is a curable disease.
Emphasizing that more research is needed to identify the underlying variables that might influence nurses’ own practice of early detection methods of breast cancer, Mr. Amanuel kidane, from Asmara College of Sciences, said “Empowering nurses with information about early detection methods and their related benefits could help in advancing their skills in performing breast self-examination and expanding their role as client educators.”
“Remarkably incredible personal stories that are worth sharing to raise public awareness about epilepsy have been identified,” said Mr. Zekarias Zemichael while sharing the findings of a research conducted on “Public attitude towards epilepsy in Eritrea: An exploratory research on the perceived causes, treatment practices and social stigma” .
The research covers stigma, prejudices, treatment procedures, discrimination were part of the research carried out on epilepsy. People associate epilepsy with a curse and as a psychological disease rather than a neurologic problem.