Despite having the largest cattle stock in Africa and a favorable environment to generate sesame and honey, the country's production is below the potential compared with other African countries, according to the first ever agri-business forum, held in Addis Ababa on January 16.
The event was organized by Precise Consult International in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and was entitled: "Ethiopia Sustainable Agribusiness Incubator; Creating Competitive Agribusiness to Transform the Agriculture, Sesame and Dairy Value Chains."
Henok Assefa, managing partner of Precise Consult, told The Reporter that the major aim of the forum is to develop partnerships and support coordination.
Honey, sesame and dairy were chosen because they are areas that the government has prioritized, Henok said, adding that in the future they aim to engage in other sectors.
During the forum state minister for agriculture, Mitiku Kassa, said that despite having the largest cattle population in Africa and given a large market opportunity, Ethiopia is still producing much less milk than the potential. And despite possessing the largest bee colony in Africa, the country is yet to modernize beekeeping and diversify bee products beyond honey and wax. He added that Ethiopia is the fourth largest producer of sesame seeds in the world, yet is adding little value to the raw product.
Gary Linden, deputy mission director at USAID, unveiled that under the US government's feed the future initiative, USAID is investing approximately USD 250 million over five years in support of the country's Agricultural Growth Plan (AGP). Part of the investment includes approximately USD 25 million in innovation grant funds to help the private sector become more competitive.
He added that this stimulus will seek to transform Ethiopian agriculture by assisting innovative new firms. Under the activity, entrepreneurs receive a package of services, including business development training, technology support, links to finance and support for gaining market access. Currently the project is assisting 19 companies.