Ethiopian smallholder farmers move into manufacturing

Over 128,000 smallholder farmers organized in union in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia have moved into manufacturing by inaugurating today a new cooking oil manufacturing and packaging factory.

Tsehay Farmers’ Cooperative Union has inaugurates today a 100 million birr (about $3.6 million) cooking oil factory. The farmers will use their oil seeds produces such as, niger seed, peanut, sunflower and sesame.

The factory is built on 7,890 square meters of land and created jobs for 80 employees. Located in Azezo area in central Gondar, the factory will produce 12,000 liters of cooking oil a day when the factory goes fully operational.
Ownership of the new factory is expected to generate additional income for the farmers getting a better value for their harvest.

In addition, when the factory begins export of sesame seeds as planned, it is also expected to generate hard currency for the country.

In Ethiopia smallholder farmers unions and cooperatives have been moving into agro-processing manufacturing sector over the past few years.

Last year, a cooperative union in Oromia Region with thousands smallholder farmers members producing barley, has bought the state owned Assela malt factory investing 1.3 billion birr (about $46 million). Now the farmers are supplying the malt to the growing beer number of breweries in the country.

In addition, farmers’ cooperatives ad unions in other parts of the country are also moving to processing coffee and packing to directly export. While in regions like Tigray known for its honey products have also been processing and packaging their products for both local and export market.

The government has also been investing in construction of specialized agro-processing zones in different parts of the country to boost its revenue from export and help the farmers get more from their produces by adding value.