The third Tigray region Sesame Business Network (SBN) annual workshop was held in Humera on the 5th of December 2015. About 110 participants drawn from the 20 Sesame Business Clusters (SBCs), farmers’ cooperative unions and government organisations participated in the workshop.
The objective of the workshop was to provide a platform to review the implementation of activities and results of the SBCs and the SBN Support Programme by focusing on the scaling out activities of the ’20 important steps to double yield and improve the quality of sesame’.
The workshop was officially started by Mr. Fisseha Bezabih, deputy head of Tigray Bureau of Agriculture. In his opening remark, Mr. Fisseha stated that the ‘20 Steps’ are contributing a lot in improving the productivity and quality of sesame. Then, he mentioned that the sesame price is decreasing currently and he is hoping that the workshop will help participants discuss about this and other marketing challenges. He also mentioned that he expect the second phase of the SBN project to be aligned with the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) of the country.
Focal persons of the SBN Support Programme from the three woredas of western Tigray zone, namely, Kafta Humera, Wolkaite and Tsegede presented overall activities and results of the scaling out activities conducted in the last three years. In their presentations, the focal person gave emphasis to the scaling up activities of the ’20 Steps’ which has been jointly run by the SBN Support Programme, Humera Agricultural Research Center and the three Woreda Offices of Agriculture. Their presentations focus on the training of trainers, demonstration of the ‘20 Steps’ at model farmers’ places and farmer training centers, the challenges they face while implementing the ‘20 Steps’, the highest and lowest yield.
The maximum yield was 13 quintal and the minimum yield was 0.9 quintals per hectare. Among the major challenges observed are: shortage of rainfall, farmers’ failure to implementing all the recommended steps, lack of row planter, pest and disease infestation, problems in using seed rate, limited use of plastic sheets for hilla drying and threshing etc.
Following the presentations of woreda representatives, Mr. Gezu Seyoum from SBN Support Programme gave presentation on finance and marketing of sesame. In his presentation Mr. Gezu briefed on the Ethiopian sesame marketing situation by comparing it with other potential sesame producing countries in the world.
The afternoon session started with Dr. Geremew Terefe’s, SBN Support Programme national coordinator’s presentation, in which he gave emphasis on the major activities and results of the first phase of the SBN and its Support Programme. Dr Geremew briefed the activities and outcomes of the rolling out of the 20 steps, technology introduction, the major challenges in implementing the 20 Steps and the future focus areas the SBN Project.
During the discussion, Dr. Eyasu Abrha, director general of Tigray Agricultural Research Institute underscored on the importance of producing quality seed. He said about 30-40% of the productivity and quality of sesame depends on the quality of the seed. Therefore one of the focus areas should be on seed. He also stated that attention should be given to irrigation, mechanisation, using post-harvest technologies.
Mr. Fisseha Bezabih on his part stated that the work of the SBN Support Programme should be harmonized with the works of Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA)
Afterwards, representatives of banks and financial institution briefed participants on the activities of their organisations. Accordingly, representatives from the Humera branch offices of Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Cooperative Bank of Oromia, Development Bank of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Insurance Corporation, Dedebit Microfinance reflected on the modalities that they use to support the sesame producers and traders.
Later, participants discussed on the future rolling out of the ’20 Steps’ through cooperatives, what should be done to improve the quality of sesame, and what can cooperatives, unions and investor farmers do in relation to value addition.
The workshop was officially closed by Dr. Gebremichael Niguse, Socioeconomics directorate director at Tigray Bureau of Agriculture. In his closing remark Dr. Gebremichael stated that sesame is a very important foreign exchange earner crop after coffee. He said; “to meet the challenges raised in our today’s discussion, all stakeholders in the sesame sector needs to continue working in collaboration.”