Category Archives: ENTAG news

Bridging the Gap between Industries and University Graduates

“Youth Business Challenge” is an initiative that was developed by ENTAG (Ethiopia-Netherlands Trade for Agriculture Growth) and AgriProFocus in support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Ethiopia. It seeks to promote youth entrepreneurship and bridge the gap between industries and recent university graduates. On February 25, 2019, 19 university graduates organized in five multidisciplinary teams presented their business plan in front of a panel of judges and project partners at the Netherlands (EKN) embassy compound. The judges selected “Production of vermicompost from potato waste” as the wining concept for Seneselet Food Processing PLC and “Feather meal production from by-product of boiler feather” won the concept for Chico Meat factory. The certification process was done by H.E. the Ambassador of the Netherlands Mr. Bengt van Loosdrecht.

The one of a kind project designed to support recent university graduates develop problem solving mentally through training and technical support was tailored towards waste management problems forwarded by the 2 volunteering Dutch companies in agribusiness (Chico Meat and Senselet Food processing Plc). Following the introduction of the programme the five teams presented the following business plans

(i) “Feather meal production from the by-product of broiler feathers” by the Visionaries

(ii) “Production of Vermicompost from Potato waste” by Potato waste processing group

(iii) “Chicken feather for production of pillows” by The Ants

(Iv) “Production of bioplastic and bioethanol from potato waste

(v) “Fidopica feed: A project on waste management from poultry processing by The Optimizers

For the last two months, the teams received several trainings along with discussions with the companies to develop their solutions on how to add value to waste towards circular economy. Prior to the final decision, the groups were given an opportunity to further explain, potential labor opportunities for women and youth, market opportunities, availability of processing products, bases for final product price estimate and also had the opportunity to show their end products.

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Ensuring inters are meeting their learning objectives – BENEFIT-ENTAG 2nd midterm internship review meeting

On January 1, 2019, BENEFIT-ENTAG post-graduate internship project held its second midterm review meeting with twenty interns from across four regions. The meeting was organized to evaluate the various activities in the internship programme, address issues to effectively utilize the remaining internship period and contribute towards effective management of the project in the future.  The twenty interns are recent BSc and MSc graduates from different universities in agribusiness, horticulture and other agricultural disciplines. Thus far, the project has places over 80 interns with an existing host companies engaged in horticulture, spices, aquaculture etc.

Shitaye Adugna, ENTAG Innovation and Internship Manager who facilitated the meeting presented the objectives  as follows

  • To evaluate orientation training, learning plan and internship objectives and to analyse its practicality in terms of actual interns’ performances
  • To enable interns to effectively utilize the remaining internship period
  • To identify problem areas and rectify them
  • To provide feedback for effective management of the program in the future

During the first session, the interns shared their experiences working with farmers, coffee quality and processing, marketing agro chemicals and pesticides, conducting environmental and social impact assessment, compost production to increase coffee production, crop management, conducting baseline survey, reviewing corporate social responsibility, laboratory control etc. 90% said they are very happy with their experience while 10% need some support in addressing some issues to ensure their intern experience become fruitful.

Discussion highlights

  • The value of having a well qualified, knowledgeable and skilled supervisor who is willing to give the interns a meaningful learning experience was raised repeatedly. The goal of the project is to give the interns enough exposure and practical experience to build their confidence and enhance their employability. Out of twenty, only three reported lack of proper support from supervisors. Some of the challenges inters faced in this area included
    • Supervisors not willing to show interns the different aspects of the business and the tendency to keep them in one area (eg. Production)
    • In most cases, supervisors who have lower level of education are intimidated by the inters and are resistance to give their full support to the interns (job security).
  • Hard work, good attitude and willingness to learn have more value that education for most companies. Some were even told, if they want to continue working as regular employees they will have to take low salary that might not reflect their educational background. In those circumstances, the interns were advices to continue working until a better opportunity comes up.
  • It was noted that to get maximum benefit from the internship experience timing of placement is crucial. Some missed the planting season and started during harvest, limiting their experience in the 4 months given for the internship.
  • Distance of field work and lack of proper transport is a challenge raised by those who work closely with farmers.
  • Relevance of confidence and networking in securing a job was highlighted.

 

Testimonies

“In spite of the hardship, the hot and dry weather, and difficulty to reach farmers in remote place, it is very gratifying to see the changes in the lives of the farmers. We learned a lot and have a lot to teach others. I have seen a farmer transform his life within a short period of time and I want to do the same.”   Aniyo Yohannes Animal Production Coordinator at Temesgen Retebo Integrated Farm

“I work closely with a person who has over 11 years’ experience in agro chemical and I have learned a lot from him. I did not know much about marketing before, but now I know I am good at it. I go around and talk to farmers to better understand their needs. I can answer questions on crop chemical and pesticides better than those who studied crop production. The best thing I have learned is the value of networking. Whenever opportunities arise, I give my number and ask how I can help.” Wolde Ayano, Sales Officer at Alema Farm

Hikma Sultan, Assistant Internship Coordinator at BENEFIT/ ENTAG “I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. I am placed in a good environment where I can learn a lot. I am getting experience in organizing meetings, budgeting, facilitating payments etc.  I am also using the opportunity to network and meet people. What I like the most about working with my supervisor is the fact that I have a weekly learning plan where I get to learn something new every week. Day by day I am more confident I can deliver tasks assigned to me.”

 

Bringing Entrepreneurship to the young

One of the key activities implemented by BENEFIT-ENTAG supports interns with a meaningful experience that enhances their employability and skills through its postgraduate internship programme.  Accordingly, the progreamme provided training on entrepreneurship on November 7-9, 2018, at Azzeman Hotel in Addis Ababa.  Twenty eight aspiring interns who are currently placed with various agribusiness, horticulture and other agriculture related companies gathered to learn how to recognize business opportunities and become self-reliant by setting up successful businesses.

During the introduction phase it was noted that most of the interns’ knowledge regarding entrepreneurship is limited to a single course taken during their studies, and most have no practical experience. The three day training covered topics on what entrepreneurship means, the relevance of role models, entrepreneurship competencies, social entrepreneurship, profile of an entrepreneur, prerequisite for action, criteria for business opportunities, idea generation and developing business plan. The interns discussed the multiple challenges in the Ethiopian context, such as lack of support, lack of motivation, lack of confidence, market fluctuation, financial constraint, limited managerial, marketing and leadership skills, lack of collaborative efforts etc.

The training provided a dynamic platform where individuals explored their strengths and skills through practical applications and self-examinations. During one of the practical exercises, the interns were grouped to develop business plans in the area of marketing, distribution, vegetable and spice production, poultry and sheep and goats production. They also viewed inspiring videos on entrepreneurs who started small and managed to turn their businesses into big successes.

During the reflection session the interns appreciated the simple and understandable way the training was provided, and agreed that the training encouraging them to think outside the box, build their skills in communication and leadership, strengthen their networking and be more creative in using existing opportunities.

Consultative meeting on food Safety regulatory issues in Ethiopia: highlighting the adverse impact of Afflatoxin contamination

Contributed by Selome Kebede, BENEFIT Senor Communication Officer

Ethio-Neterlands Trade for Agriculture Growth (ENTAG) held a half-day consultative meeting on food safety.  The meeting was organized to especially highlight the challenges of afflatoxin in Ethiopia so as to take regulatory and systematic measures in addressing the problem.  It was attended by over 25 participants representing government offices, the private sector (processors and exports) and development partners.

The meeting was opened by H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha, State Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources (MoALR), who highlighted aflatoxin is an issue that needs immediate attention and appreciated ENTAG for organizing the meeting to support the various government efforts happening at different levels.  He stressed that once the export door is closed it is very challenging to rebuild trust and reopen it. Therefore, a better understanding of the situation is needed to develop strategies and guidelines and put good accountable mechanisms to address the issue on the ground.

In his opening remark Frerik Kampman, Aid and Trade Officer from the Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands, also emphasized aflatoxin is a big barrier for trade, and it is important to find systematic measures to resolve the problem. He noted that food safety is increasing becoming an important topic throughout the world, and we should look at the issue not only as a barrier but an opportunity to expand our export market.

During the meeting food safety findings of a study commissioned by ENTAG and conducted by Bahir Dar University was shared.  The presentation covered key findings along the five pillars – national food control system, food laws and regulations, food inspection and certification, monitoring and surveillance, and information, education and communication (IEC) and training.

That was followed by presentations from ACOS plc (red kidney) and Fasica Spices plc (paper) who shared their experiences in export rejection due to high level of aflatoxin in their products.  They noted that costs associated with rejects including demurrage, customs, sea freight, storage, testing etc. can break a business in just one reject.  Other related issues included that there is no provision on how to deal with this kind of issues, lack of awareness, capacity at all levels (especially at the farmers level), lack of infrastructure and post-harvest technologies in the country, absence of accredited testing sites accepted by both sellers and buyers, challenge in motivating farmer to consider food safety, lack of standard on max allowed etc.

Next, the participants were divided to list key strategies  / activities for each of the 5 pillars, who should lead the harmonization of these activities around food safety in general and aflatoxin in particular to bring the issue to higher level attention, and who should be part of a potential task force and who should lead it.

At the end, there was an agreement to build a task force led by MoALR to translate/ summarize the suggested strategies from the group work (3-4 pagers) to submit to MoALR for action by July 18, 2018. Members in the task force include representatives from FMHACA, the private sector, Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Authority, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Health and MoALR (to be assigned by Dr. Eyasu). ENTAG will play the facilitation role.

Aflatoxin’s effect on child stunting, health and trade

Contributed by Selamawit Firdissa, Gender & Nutrition Expert, BENEFIT

The adverse effect of Aflatoxin and its link to a series of acute/chronic health problems to human and animals (including child stunting), was one of the major findings presented at the sixth BENEFIT-ENTAG Spice, Herbs and Aromatic Sector Platform meeting. The platform meeting that was held on 22 March 2018 at Harmony hotel, mainly focused safety and quality issues, identifying existing challenges related to aflatoxin and explore mitigation strategies to minimize its effect on health and trade.

The focus of the meeting was to raise awareness of aflatoxin challenges in spice and herbs, explore ways to mitigate its destructive effect on health and trade, and build international credibility through implementing strong National Food Control System (NFCS) for domestic market.

At the beginning of the meeting, a study conducted by ENTAG that highlights the current challenges/gaps regarding aflatoxins, its impacts on the domestic and international markets, bottlenecks and root causes of the national food control system was presented.

One of the major findings of the study indicates the relation between aflatoxin consumption and stunted growth.  Aflatoxin consumption at early age leads to development delays and increase susceptibility to infectious disease.  Ethiopia being one of those countries where malnutrition is an important public health problem, the issue of aflatoxin and its effect on child stunting needs close attention.

The study findings presented indicated the major commodities susceptible for aflatoxin are pepper, ginger, turmeric, and red kidney beans, and the causes focused on traditional practices: on- farm, adulteration, interim storage, transportation, processing and retail.  According to the finding high risk of aflatoxin contamination exist during harvest and postharvest practices, drying and storage, adulteration practices by aggregators and traders, water (moisture) addition followed by tight packing, spice processing/exporting with limited space etc.

Major challenges highlighted in the study included that there is no explicit aflatoxin intervention known in Ethiopia, no clear food safety strategy, no explicit farm to table food safety assurance approach, Food Control Management does not follow multiple agency approach with shared vision, and lack of coordination among National quality laboratory regulatory, private sector and other stakeholders, multiple agencies with common mandates.

Key recommendations put forward included to mainstream postharvest issues in organizational structures of MoANR and let positions be occupied by postharvest technologists at every hierarchical stage down to the kebele level; for laboratory facilities improvement and development to promote private laboratories for accredited aflatoxin testing service delivery, including mobile laboratories; and establish delineated markets for selected aflatoxin prone products to reduce adulteration and fraudulent behaviors. Furthermore, it’s indicated that a strong coordination among agencies responsible for Food Control Management as well as development and implementation of food policy and implementation strategy focusing on farm to table are needed to revitalize national food control system in the county.

Fish for Nutritional Security and Culinary Services

Contributed by Abebe Ameha, PhD

BENEFIT- ENTAG organized the Fifth Aquaculture Platform Meeting on the role of “Fish for Nutritional Security and Culinary Services” in Ethiopia. The platform meeting was held for half-day on 23rd November 2017 at Azzeman Hotel, Addis Ababa. The overall objective of the program was to promote the role of fish for nutritional security and as a business venture, and encourage fish quality standards as part of the aquaculture value chain in Ethiopia.

The general focus of the meeting was on addressing the various processes in the aquaculture value chain. Specifically, issues were revolving around the nutritional insecurity, preparation of fish food, supply and quality of fish products in Ethiopia.

The Guest of Honor, Mr Hussein Abegaz (Director for FRDD, MoLF) addressed the meeting in his opening speech, with emphasis given on the following message: “The potential for fish production from capture fisheries in Ethiopia is very limited as contrasted with the country’s ever-increasing human population and the high demand for fish. The per capita fish consumption in Ethiopia is less than 500 g. The government of Ethiopia and its partners are trying to develop the fish production and marketing sector through the GTP2. However, at all segments of the fisheries and aquaculture value chain, several challenges are hindering efficient implementation of development programs. Inputs for aquaculture (seed and feed), skilled manpower and financial requirements are the common constraints in the sub-sector. Nutritional requirements for children, women, the elderly and the work force of the country can in part be secured through sustainable aquaculture production systems. Fish culinary services have to develop as a new business venture with improved skills.” Mr Hussein wrapped his message by wishing fruitful deliberations during the panel discussion.

The key messages drawn from the meeting include the following.

  • The National Nutrition Policy of Ethiopia by itself is a great achievement in terms of tackling malnutrition problems in many parts of the society. This and other policies alone can’t ensure the final targets of provision of proper nutritional requirements and generation of income. Fish production and post-harvest processes need significant support from the government and the private sector.
  • Aquaculture development in Ethiopia requires special incentives from the government, for instance, in terms of tax exemption for imported fish feed. However, establishment of local fish feed processing industries as SMEs and large scale factories will be an ideal way out for this problem.
  • Extension work in aquaculture development is currently not enough; this has to be strengthened to the extent where substantial impact can be seen.
  • Fish culinary services at hotel and restaurants are regarded as one of the means to promote aquaculture development; in addition, new business opportunities are emerging as fish specialty restaurants.
  • The challenges in developing Ethiopian aquaculture are complex and throughout the value chain. Extensive effort is needed to tackle each of the fish production, processing, storage, transport, and cooking activities through skill development and establishing model systems.
  • The quantity, type (species) and quality of fish supplied to the end user is low. Nile tilapia and Nile perch are the most common fishes served in hotels and restaurants. More species of fish have to be produced in sufficient quantities and with acceptable quality standards. Fish cooking also has to follow appropriate procedures to maintain the nutritional content of the fish food.

The meeting addressed issues pertaining to aquaculture and fish marketing in the context of the National Nutrition Policy, food quality/standards control, demand/supply, and culinary services in Ethiopia. Oral talks were given by Dr Paulos Getachew, Assistant Professor at the Center for Food Science and Nutrition Research (Addis Ababa University) and Mr Fiseha Sisay, Executive Chef at the International Livestock Research Institute (Addis Ababa). Panel discussion was held with panelists from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ethiopian Public Health Institute, and Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Health Administration and Control Authority.  Representatives of the Triangular Aquaculture Mission from FAO (Rome), China and the Netherlands addressed the meeting about their aspirations to involve in capacity building programs in Ethiopian aquaculture. Members of the Mission also indicated that they learnt a lot about the status and complex challenges in the aquaculture value chain.

A total of 51 participants attended the meeting, comprising of 19 from private companies, three from PSAs, 6 from government sector organizations, 6 from research and education institutions, 8 from non-government and international organizations, and 9 from ENTAG/BENEFIT.

For more information on BENEFIT-ENTAG 5th round platforms you can find the 5th platforms newsletter on the below link .

http://entag.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5th-platform-meetings-Newsletter-ENTAG.pdf