On May 15 and 16, SBN’s annual workshop was held at Taye hotel, Gondar. The workshop marked the first anniversary of the launch of the SBN support programme.
The workshop brought together more than 140 stakeholders from the private and public sesame and wider agricultural bodies, such as primary cooperatives, unions, ECX, proximity service providers such as Agricultural Research Institutes, Bureaus of Agriculture, Cooperative Promotion Offices, banks, Microfinance Institutions, PLCs administrators from Amhara and Tigray regions, as well as SBN partner projects.
The objectives of the two days’ workshop were sharing results and experiences of the first year, and looking ahead to the 2014-2015 sesame production and marketing season. It was also aimed at networking, exchanging, and building business linkages between sesame stakeholders in the region, and by addressing sector strategic topics with all participants involved.
The workshop was officially opened by Dr. Eyasu Abrha, director general of the Tigray Agricultural Research Institute. In his opening speech, Dr. Eyasu emphasised on the importance of giving attention to the challenges of the sesame sector and the need of multi-dimensional approach and multi-stakeholder participation to solve them.
After an official opening of Dr. Eyasu, the workshop started by different presentations. The first day focused on sharing the major activities and results of the SBN support programme of this first year. The presentations focused on the results of sesame production demonstrations, and results of the studies on yields, postharvest losses, credit and production costs. In the sesame business hall, various SBN stakeholders engaging in different activities in the sesame sector promoted their sesame-related products and services to the audience by using pictures graphs and different materials. In addition, SBN partner projects and organisations presented their sesame and agriculture-related activities.
Dr. Adugna Wakjira deputy director general of Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture Research (EIAR) participated in the workshop. In his brief remark, Dr Adugna mentioned about the efforts that have been made by regional and federal agricultural research institutes to use new technologies so as to increase productivity and quality of sesame and be competent in the international market.
The second day of the workshop began by having a short visit to Ambasel Trading House PLC at Gondar which engages in sesame cleaning, hulling and making Tahini. After the visit, the ‘Sesame yield and quality improvement guide’ was officially launched and presented to the participants, followed by a presentations on sesame related research output and on possibilities for stakeholders to collaborate with the SBN support programme, through collaboration agreements and the innovation fund.The rest of the second day focused on how to jointly tackle the most important strategic challenges for the sesame sector. The main challenges identified were (1) Access to credit; (2) Quality, value addition and marketing; (3) Productivity improvement; and (4) Crop rotation for farming systems. After working in different multi-stakeholder groups, possible solutions and directions were suggested to solve the challenges and improve the performance of the sesame sector.
Participants indicated that they enjoyed the workshop by learning important lessons from the presentations and discussions, and through getting the chance for networking, a company visit and match-making.
The workshop was officially closed by Mr. Feseha Bezabih, deputy head of Tigray Bureau of Agriculture. Mr. Feseha emphasized on the importance of collaboration and aligning the efforts together so as to bring the desired change. He finally closed the workshop giving gratitude to the government of Netherlands, the SBN support programme staff members, Gondar town administration, Ambasel Trading House PLC and all participants.