Category Archives: ENTAG news

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 .