The Sesame Business Network (SBN) stakeholders’ national meeting was successfully held on Thursday, the 17th of December 2015 at Ghion Hotel, Addis Ababa. The meeting was held with the expression “Sesame: a strategic sector for the country: looking back at the first phase (2013-2015) and way forward for the second phase (2016-2019) of the SBN and its Support Project.”
The meeting convened over 95 participants drawn from Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Ministry of Agriculture, Amhara and Tgray Bureaus of Agriculture,Zone and Woreda Agriculture Offices, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Amhara and Tigray Region Agricultural Research Institutes, Humera and Gondar Agricultural Research Centres, Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, primary cooperatives, unions, processers, exporters, private companies, partner projects etc.
The main objectives of the annual meeting were highlighting the major activities and results of the first phase of the SBN; reviewing the major challenges, opportunities and lessons learnt; introducing and discussing the orientations of the second phase of the SBN and its Support Project and providing a platform for stakeholders and policy makers to discuss strategic orientations for the sesame sector.
The meeting was officially opened by Dr. Adugna Wakjira, deputy director of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. In his opening speech, Dr. Adugna appreciated the efforts, achievements and commitments made by the SBN and its Support Programme. He said, “Sesame has got a big potential all over Ethiopia. The project is introducing new way of doing things from which others can take lessons. The best practices produced in Metema and Humera areas are expanding to other sesame producing areas.” He added; “We have learnt important lessons which can be used to other commodities beyond sesame.” He further appreciated the communication strategy that the SBN Support programme uses. He said that the website and newsletters are especially playing important roles in sharing information and knowledge for others. “We want to stress that emphasis should be given to capacity building; particularly human resource capacity building of researchers and development workers.” He finally thanked the Netherland government for funding the project and the staff members of the SBN Support Project for organising the workshop.
Mr. Ted Schrader, SBN coordinator from Wagningon University, the Netherlands briefly presented about the overview of the SBN and its Support Programme. In his presentation, Mr. Ted highlighted the background and context. He stated that the Support Programme focuses on value chain dynamics, stakeholder collaboration and market system perspective. He also stated as the Support Project will continue working following agribusiness cluster and network approach.
Following Ted’s presentation Dr. Geremew Terefe, SBN Support Programme national coordinator, presented the main activities done and results achieved in the first phase of the SBN and its Support Programme (2013-2015). He also presented the major challenges and opportunities. Next, results of the two regional workshops held in Bahir Dar and Humera were presented by Tewodros Tesfaye and Muez Berhe, respectively.
Afterwards, a short documentary entitled with “Supporting the sesame sector in northwest Ethiopia”, which briefly highlight the major results achieved in the first phase of the Support Programme, were shown to participants.
Next, participant reflected on what has been presented. In their reflections, participants raised challenges related to finance, mechanization, marketing, in country value addition, roles of cooperatives and unions, investor farmers, etc.
In the afternoon session, Ted presented on how the SBN Support Project continue to support the sesame sector in the second phase (2016-2019). He pointed out that the project will function under BENEFIT which stands for Bilateral Ethiopia-Netherlands Effort for Food, Trade and Income. The SBN Support Project will work in partnership with three projects namely, Capacity Building for Scaling up of Evidence-based best practices in Agricultural Production in Ethiopia (CASCAPE), Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD), and Ethiopian-Netherlands Trade for Agricultural Growth (ENTAG). He also mentioned about the main focuses of the project in the second phase and its alignment with Agricultural Commercialization Clusters formed by ATA.
Following Ted’s presentation, Judith Jacobs and Oscar Geerts briefly presented on exploring in-country value addition and marketing options for Ethiopian sesame. After this, break-out sessions were organized and participants discussed in different groups on the following topics: spot market trade; value addition and value chains via processors; ECX product diversification and quality specification; exporter-importer relations; value addition and marketing options for cooperatives and unions and value addition and marketing options for investors. After the discussions, results were presented to all participants.
The meeting was finally closed by Dr. Geremew’s closing remark. He said that the Support Project will take the inputs from the discussions and try to work hard for the improvement of the sesame sector in the coming four years. He underscored that stakeholders’ active participation and commitment is very essential for the development of the sesame sector. He finally thanked all participants for coming and actively participating in the meeting.