The sesame sector in northwest Ethiopia has taken the first steps to systematically improve sesame farmers' incomes, based on Wageningen Centre for Development's experience with multi-stakeholder approaches and inclusive agribusiness development. This has already led to promising results, including improved yields, improved access for farmers to loans, and market development initiatives.
An agribusiness cluster and network approach to support the sesame sector in Ethiopia
The project Benefit-SBN, that supports the sesame production in northwest Ethiopia, started in 2013 with a team of 20 professionals. Now, this team of economists, agronomists, and communication professionals works for a variety of stakeholders, organized in an Ethiopian Sesame Business Network (SBN). ‘The essence of our approach is fourfold’, says Ted Schrader, project coordinator at CDI. ‘We follow an evidence-based approach. Secondly, we bring together agribusiness and government in a multi-stakeholder approach. Thirdly, we support an agribusiness network around one important crop in a specific area. Finally, we support activities according to the plans and activities of the stakeholders.’
This approach has already produced promising results. For example, one of the most pressing problems in the Ethiopian sesame chain is the access of farmers to loans. Now,one of the micro-finance institutes, ACSI in Amhara, has been convinced of the importance of financing the sesame sector and lent 201 million Ethiopian birr (8.3 million euro) to sesame farmers in the Amhara region in 2016, after receiving a guarantee from the regional government. ‘Our lobbying and negotiations has borne fruit’, says Geremew Terefe, project manager of the Ethiopian team.
The Sesame Business Network also undertook activities to help farmers to improve their yields. The team has supported the writing, lay-out and printing of an easy-to-understand brochure that explains 20 steps for improving the sesame yield, and it supports the training of farmers for the application of the ‘20 steps’. ‘Ten thousand farmers have already achieved 50 to 100% higher yields, thanks to these training courses’, says Geremew Terefe. The Sesame Business Network is also attempting to set up relationships between farmer cooperatives and export firms, to guarantee better prices for the farmers.