Sesame Business Forum held at Mekelle

Tigray Commercial Oilseed and Pulse Producer Organisation (TOPPO) in collaboration with Agriculture and Livestock Resource Minister and Tigray Region Agriculture and Livestock Bureau organised Sesame Business Forum from the 9th -10th of June 2018 at Mekelle.

The objective of the workshop was to create a space for commercial farmers so that they can discuss the major challenges of the sesame sub-sector with concerned stakeholders, government officials, and support programmes and projects.

The forum was organised with the motto: “By increasing the production, productivity, and quality of oilseeds and pulses in general and sesame and soya bean in particular, we will meet the country’s foreign trade plan.’

The meeting kicked off with Mr. Amanuel Tesfaye’s, chairperson of Tigray Oilseed and Pulse Producers Organisation, opening remark. Mr. Amanuel said; although Ethiopia is endowed with great potential in sesame production, less has been done in exploiting this opportunity mainly because of the traditional farming practice. He also underscored the fact that lack of credit for production and not having a convenient government policy affected the growth of the sub-sector.

Following the opening speech, H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha, state minister for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resource presented on policies and strategies of commercialising oil and pulse crop production in Ethiopia. In his presentation, Dr. Eyasu highlighted the efforts which have been made by the government to improve the agriculture sector as a whole and the oilseed and pulses production and marketing in particular. To bring change in the sub-sector, Dr. Eyasu said it is important to meet the major challenges and constraints such as low level of production and productivity; limited use of technology, being dependent on rainfed agriculture, limited or poor input use, low credit service etc. He added efforts should be exerted in exploiting the comparative advantages that the country has like good agro-ecology, available resources, geopolitics etcetera.

Several other presentations were made on different titles: the challenges and opportunities in the oilseed and grain production; sesame research global perspective; experiences of collaboration activities of Humera Agricultural Research Centre (HuARC), Tigray Bureau of Agriculture, ATA, BENEFIT Programmes-Benefit-SBN, ISSD and CASCAPE; an overview of oilseed research and development in Ethiopia; mechanisation strategic pillars and the role of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). Financial institutions- mainly, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Development Bank and Dedebit Credit and Saving Institute also briefly presented the products and services that they are providing for the sector.

  • Participants discuss the common strategic challenges of the sesame sector such as shortage of finance; practice of informal money lending; limited availability of agricultural inputs such as quality seed varieties, chemicals,  machineries; weather information; lack of coordination among the value chain actors; marketing-related challenges such as adulteration, traceability, grading system and brokers unethical action at the ECX; credit modalities of financial organisations; less or limited availability of insurance; limited capacity of some value chain actors; bureaucracies in importing agricultural machineries etc.
  • During discussions, participants suggested some possible solutions for some of the existing challenges. Among the suggestions made are:
  • There needs to be a system which can help stop the exploitation of farmers by the informal money lenders.
  • Financial organisations need to figure out a system which can help farmers get credit without collaterals.
  • It is important to have banks and other financial institutions which can provide specific service- avail credit only for the agricultural sector
  • Serious actions need to be taken on those who adulterate the sesame produce
  • It is not possible to bring change with simple mobilisation work; research system needs to be strengthened;
  • The seed system needs to be strengthened
  • Attention needs to be given to finance, mechanisation and input use

During the discussions prof. Kindaya Gebrehiwot president of Mekelle University underlined that it is not possible to achieve the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) by doing business as usual. He said: “Doing business, as usual, is not helping stakeholders of the sesame sub-sector achieve their common goals. It is not also helping to meet the country’s Growth and Transformation Policy. There is a need to think out of the box and do things differently.”

At the end of the forum, participant commercial farmers set action points and promised to implement them as of the coming production season. The main action points are:

  • By supporting the leadership of the federal and regional bodies and organising national sesame and pulses task force we will try to solve the major bottlenecks of the sesame sector
  • We will conduct studies to identify the challenges of oilseed and pulses contract farming and try to contribute to the efforts made to increase the production and productivity
  • We stakeholders of the forum have great responsibilities to work hand in hand to achieve the second Growth and Transformation Plan of the country
  • We will support the federal and regional research institutes and other technology availing organisations so that they can produce new technologies which can help produce the best quality sesame in great quantity.
  • We will endeavour to implement the research recommendations made to improve commercial farming and marketing.
  • We will work to modernise agriculture by using mechanised farming.
  • We will work to have a convenient policy environment which supports the availability and use of improved agricultural technologies that can contribute to the agro-processing industry and for the export market

The forum, which is mainly initiated and organised by Tigray Commercial Oilseed and Pulse Producer Organisation, gave chance to the member commercial farmers and other stakeholders of the sesame sector to meet with high level national and regional government officials, policymakers and researchers and discuss strategic challenges of the sector.

Benefit-SBN presented its experience focusing on financial literacy and the guarantee fund activities which have successfully been run for the last couple of years and the kebele level agro-economic planning that the programme has already started implementing together with the SBN stakeholders.