BENEFIT-Partnership to promote food production, income and trade

The Bilateral Ethiopia Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade Partnership (BENEFIT) was established in 2016 to unite four already running agricultural development programmes in Ethiopia that were supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands. The umbrella project is coordinated by the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation and supported by the Dutch Embassy in Ethiopia.

This umbrella project consist of:

  1. integrated seed sector development (ISSD)
  2. capacity building for scaling up of evidence-based best practices in agricultural production (CASCAPE)
  3. Ethio-Netherlands trade facilitation for agribusiness (ENTAG)
  4. sesame business network support (SBN)
  5. Later a fifth programme was added, on realising sustainable agricultural livelihood security (REALISE)

Enormous potential for agricultural growth

Rural households in Ethiopia still rely on food assistance and at present 25 million are considered vulnerable to malnutrition. Many institutions still struggle to make crucial agricultural inputs such as quality seed, fertilizers and credit available at the right time and place, in required quantities of acceptable quality at affordable prices. Furthermore, loosely organized commodity value chains receive limited support from agricultural service providers whilst the enabling environment lacks certain capacities to both develop and implement effective and efficient policies for regulating and developing the sector.

The Government of Ethiopia prioritizes agricultural development as key to accelerating growth, overcoming poverty and enhancing food security. Under the country’s spearhead Agricultural Growth Programme, important objectives set are increasing agricultural productivity; creating market access for priority commodities; capacity strengthening; scaling up best practices; the adoption of improved and sustainable cropping systems; and encouraging large-scale enterprise in agriculture. For the Dutch Government and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in particular, increasing food and nutrition security, brokering Dutch expertise, and stimulating trade are key priority areas for support to Ethiopia.

Partnership for improved sustainable food, income and trade

The Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade Partnership - BENEFIT Partnership, aims to improve sustainable food, income and trade among rural households in Ethiopia. Through combining efforts in the BENEFIT partnership, the programmes will achieve a higher impact than working in isolation. The BENEFIT partnership enhances synergy through:

  • Increased effectiveness through an integrated value chain approach, combining efforts in selected locations where multiple projects work on the same commodities or products, and collaboration on policy and scaling level.
  • Increased efficiency in management and administration in joint planning, monitoring, reporting and mainstreaming gender and nutrition.

Uniting five projects under a supportive coordination unit

The BENEFIT Partnership unites the four following agricultural development projects:

  • The Integrated Seed Sector Development in Ethiopia (ISSD Ethiopia) project, which supports the development of a vibrant, pluralistic and market oriented seed sector in the country.
  • The Capacity building for scaling up of evidence-based best practices in agricultural production (CASCAPE) project, which improves agricultural productivity through promoting evidence-based best agricultural practices
  • The Sesame Business Network (SBN) support project, which supports stakeholders of the SBN in developing competitive, sustainable and inclusive sesame value chains in Ethiopia
  • The REALISE project to reach to chronic poor in Ethiopia; Realising Sustainable Agricultural Livelihood Security
  • The Ethiopian-Netherlands Trade Facility for Agribusiness (ENTAG), which supports private sector development and trade in Ethiopia

The BENEFIT Partnership coordination unit provides leadership and support to the five projects in the areas of project coordination and management, financial control, monitoring and evaluation, gender and nutrition.

Increased effectiveness through an integrated value chain approach

The strength of the BENEFIT Partnership is that through combining efforts, it will be able to achieve a higher impact than working in isolation. Selected priority commodities based on the importance at regional or national level and the possibility of demonstrating evidences for scaling were selected. Accordingly, the priority crops which the BENEFIT partnership targets with due emphasis in addressing challenges related with their respective seed system, productivity, market and policy were sesame, malt barley and bread wheat in Amhara region; sesame and sorghum in Tigray region; soya bean and chickpea in Oromia and faba bean and malt barley in SNNPR. Several of these commodities, wheat, sesame and malt barley are major commodities for the agriculture commercialization clusters, while the pulses, soya bean, chickpea and faba bean are important rotation crops in the system as well as food security crops. The collaboration results in:

  • Better access of seed of preferred varieties (sesame) and the establishment of seed producer cooperative with certificate of competence (malt barley)
  • Increased productivity
  • Close collaboration with the public extension programme and consideration of the demonstrated evidences like the 20 steps and financial literacy extension packages
  • Improved market linkages through contract arrangements (malt barley) and commodity platforms
  • Addressing the key policy related challenges in value chains