Agriculture remains the foundation of the country's economy, and accounts for half of gross domestic product, over 80% of exports, and 80% of total employment.
Ethiopia’s five-year development plans, including the current one (2015- 2020), have all reflected the importance of the agriculture sector and its contribution to poverty alleviation and overall national economic and social development.
Key government objectives are focused on raising the productivity and production of smallholder farmers and pastoralists, strengthening market systems, increasing the participation and engagement of the private sector, expanding the amount of land under irrigation, and reducing the number of food-insecure households.
The country’s initial Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I), focused on accelerating the production of traditional crops by encouraging smallholders to introduce improved technologies and by increasing investment in rural infrastructure, particularly for irrigation and watershed management.
GTP II takes the development process further by promoting more sustainable farming practices and economic growth that is inclusive, with particular focus on engaging women, youth and poor households.
In 2010, the Ethiopian government established the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), designed to be the catalyst for transformational and sustainable change.
In 2012, the Private Sector Development Task Force (PSDTF), was set up to foster private sector involvement by helping to identify and remove barriers with an emphasis on enhancing dialogue between government, development partners, the private sector and civil society. Grow Africa is a member of the PSDTF. The PSDTF has highlighted the following as key areas in need of review:
Livestock – skins & hides regulation
Agriculture sector finance
Private sector investment
Trade Policy – Imports & Exports
Agriculture sector taxation
Improved Food Security & Nutrition
Grow Africa’s work in Ethiopia
16 LOIs have been established in Ethiopia, worth a total of $33 million, of which $32 million has been invested.
Global LOI companies include SwissRe, AGCO International, Heineken and Dupont; domestic companies include Guts Agro Industries, Omega Farms, Zemen Bank, and the Bank of Abyssinia.
To date, 772,657 smallholders have been reached, predominantly through the supply of input products and services, financial or data services and through training.
Grow Africa has:
Provided technical support to the ATA in the conceptualization, development, and review of a National Cluster Framework;
Promoted Ethiopia’s transformational agenda at the Transformational Leadership Workshop 2015, with the participation of ATA;
Supported LOI organisations to access funding and connect with strategic partners.
An important project for Grow Africa was the facilitation of a relationship between global drinks company, Diageo, and the ATA, to assist Diageo in increasing its local sourcing of agricultural raw materials from 50% to 70%. The result has been a three-year pilot programme to improve barley productivity for at least 6,000 smallholder farmers.
In the first year, a pilot with 764 farmers yielded 225 tonnes of good quality barley. Diageo is committed to continuing with the project.
USAID and Dalberg Development Advisors have established business cases for wheat, fruit and vegetables, soya beans, beef cattle, which Grow Africa will support as they are taken forward by the relevant institutions.