Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

16 December 2012

Ethiopia: Addis Chamber Gets 70 Million Br for Agribusiness

Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (AACCSA) received 70 million Br to establish an Agribusiness Support Facility (ABSF), on December 11, 2012.

The Chamber wants the programme to address the gap between the opportunities in Agribusiness within the country and the number of companies investing in the sector. The Chamber's roster of nearly 10,000 companies includes just 300 from the agricultural sector.

More than half of these 300 companies focus on the same crop types, namely; spices, beans and oil crops, says Getachew Reggasa, secretary general of AACCSA.

ABSF was developed as a new department, in July 2012, after a discussion held between the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the AACCSA. The Netherlands government has too supported similar programmes in other countries.

There are different procedural challenges inEthiopia, when starting or running an agri-business, says Joep Van Den Broek, an agriculture advisor to the Netherlands Embassy.

"Finding suitable land, getting the necessary permits and ensuring import and export clearance is troublesome," he said.

The Chamber will use 40pc of the budget to build an information hub for networking private sector associations and consultancy services. The rest of the money will be used for technical and entrepreneurial support, and sub-sector platform and capacity building.

The programme will use 20 million Br for three Agribusiness proposal competitions, each year for three years, with awards going to the best six proposals, says Getachew. The information hub will come at a cost of 2.7 millionBr.

The Chamber is also establishing a policy research centre, with 1.5 millionBr.This centre will provide training and consultancy services, and too assist both new and existing companies in problem solving, related to the launching and running of agri-businesses, says Getachew.

The Netherlands Embassy started providing support to the Chamber five years ago, with training and technical assistance, through the establishment of the arbitration institute. In 2010, it was involved in the training of SMEs and women entrepreneurs, with five million Birr, at the Merkato branch office of the Chamber.

"Many companies are investing in coffee shops and restaurants, but not many go for agro-processing," Hans Blankeneberg, the Netherlands Ambassador said. "Still, in the supermarkets and small shops most food products are imported, and these products could all be produced in Ethiopia."

The hope is that agribusinesses will encourage companies to buy and produce locally, rather than relying on imports, and, in time, also move towards exporting their produce.

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