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BENEFIT launch

Bilateral Ethiopian Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade partnership in Ethiopia (BENEFIT) launch event was organised on Wednesday the 16th of December 2015 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

During the launching event, His Excellency Wondirad Mandefro, Ethiopian State Minister of Agriculture; Mr. Martin Koper, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of development Cooperation, Netherlands Embassy and Prof. Dr. Louise Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen UR, delivered speeches. The project coordinators of the four projects and farmers shared results and experiences for the participants.

The Sesame Business Network (SBN), Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD), Capacity Building for Scaling up of Evidence-based best practices in Agricultural Production in Ethiopia (CASCAPE) and Ethiopian-Netherlands Trade for Agricultural Growth (ENTAG), will work in partnership under BENEFIT. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of the Netherlands will be funding this partnership and its projects and Wageningen UR is the coordinator.

The goal of the BENEFIT Partnership is to improve production and availability of food, as well as stimulate and develop sustainable income and trade among rural households of Ethiopia. It aims to reach over 3 million smallholder farmers and support over 2,500 cooperatives and small and medium scale enterprises. The Partnership will also facilitate direct investment from more than twenty Dutch and international companies and train almost 2,000 research and extension staff. Working in the area of policy dialogue and advocacy, the Partnership aims to establish and strengthen over fifteen commodity platforms, private sector associations and strategic networks. Together with key stakeholders, the partnership will also develop evidence based policy options to solve strategic bottlenecks in the agricultural sector in Ethiopia.

Excerpts from the speakers

“Ethio-Netherlands development cooperation has been actively working on various areas of agricultural development in the past years. The bilateral programmes which focus on horticulture, sesame, dairy and poultry sectors targeting both smallholders’ farmers and the private sector investment towards bringing sustainable impact. ISSD, CASCAPE and SBN Support Programme play significant role in increasing production and productivity of our farmers. He added; “I have full confidence as a partnership to merge the four projects implemented by Wageneingen university, the one coordination unit is an encouraging move towards creating a common intervention framework towards a bilateral project. I believe that the partnership coordination unit can significantly improve the synergy and effectiveness of the formation projects and bring about more success stories that can change the lives of millions of farmers in Ethiopia.” He then call up governments, particularly the government of Netherlands as well as implementing organizations including the Wageningon University and its partners to support Ethiopia’s endeavour of building climate resilient agriculture. He also said that the Ethiopian government will support this initiative with all its capacity…” H. E Wondirad Mandefro, Ethiopian State Minister of Agriculture.

“I am very happy to be in the launching event of BENEFIT which is realised after so many discussions. What can we still do more to make it a bigger success? Why are we doing it? This initiative is very important. If you look at the present face of the development of Ethiopia, transformation of agriculture is still the base for the future development of the country. There are a lot of discussions about industrialisation like manufacturing, but at this particular moment it won’t work without investigating and doing more in agriculture. BENEFIT is very much here towards the transformation of agriculture and to a large extent supporting smallholder farmers in doing that. The BENEFIT partnership plays an important role in this endeavour; assisting the Ethiopian government in transforming the agriculture sector in a number of ways… We can offer a bit of added value here. The Wageningen University, as a centre of excellence, will play an important role in coordinating the BENEFIT partnership… There need to be more cooperation among the benefit programmes but also the BENEFIT partners. More cooperation means more value and more resource. We are not there yet. We make an important first step but there are still rooms for improvements… I think the major part of the success of the BENEFIT will be determined by the extent to which the BENEFIT partners find ways and means to transfer their knowledge and expertise to the Ethiopian programmes and institutions… ” Mr. Martin Koper, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of development Cooperation, Netherlands Embassy.

“We often say Ethiopia can be the bread basket of Africa. Yes it can. It has a tremendous set of assets in terms of its diversity of its soil, diversity of climate and long strong agriculture tradition. But we know that yields are still low. There are many handicaps for farmers to get their products to the market. At about 40% of the products are actually lost… These problems are pressing. So modernizing agriculture is an absolute must….Agriculture is the art of location specific. The difficulty of agriculture is that there is no magic solution. It is about diligently applying what we know; being open minded for innovation; inventing the right things for the specific location of the specific farmer. Here in BENEFIT we have a number of subjects which very important in getting agriculture moving. It is about seed, soil, agricultural practises, capacity building. Those are essential ingredients. But they are not enough by themselves. They have to be applied in a synergetic fashion. The reason why we are here today is to create that synergy. That synergy has to take place at different levels. The synergy has to be between the BENEFIT programmes and the different Ethiopian authorities, institutions, universities, local administrations that work in agriculture. There are other NGOs and donors. That is very complex. We have to be open minded and put the synergies right…” Prof. Dr. Louise Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen Universities.

For more information please visit:

http://ethiopia.nlembassy.org/news/2015/12/benefit.html#

http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/newsarticle/Promoting-food-production-income-and-trade-in-a-new-NetherlandsEthiopia-Partnership.htm

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By Sesame Business Network, Gondar-Ethiopia