Ethiopia: Farmer-to-Farmer Niche Project
More than 600,000 Ethiopian small holder farmers produce 287,000 tons of sesame per year, and depend on it for their livelihoods. Yet these farmers face many obstacles, such as seed shortages, poor product quality and lack of finance. This limits productivity and income. IESC’s Farmer-to-Farmer Niche Project in Ethiopia, funded by USAID and awarded by Weidemann Associates, is designed to strengthen organizations in the sesame value chain. That happens through the transfer of knowledge and expertise of U.S. volunteers. It focuses on increasing farmers’ productivity and seed quality, both through world-class agricultural practices and access to markets.
Our Volunteer Experts (VEs) are providing best practices approaches to seed varieties, production and markets to Ethiopian sesame farmers and institutions. Activities include:
- Training on improved practices in sesame production, harvesting, and storage;
- Linking small holders with processors and exporters that can provide inputs and transportation support;
- Assessing and advising on what solutions can be offered for other logistical and post-harvest constraints experienced by farmers;
- Analyzing soil quality and finding sources of fertilizer and methods of getting it into the hands of the farmers; and
- Evaluating the financial needs of small holders and developing solutions to fill those needs.
Results to Date
IESC’s Agribusiness Volunteer Advisor conducted an initial assessment of the value chain in Ethiopia. After developing a thorough understanding of the most urgent needs of the sesame sector, as well as how the Farmer-to-Farmer Special Niche Project could bring the greatest impact to smallholder farmers, the volunteer identified activities and priorities for the remainder of the project.
An IESC Logistics and Post-Harvest Handling Volunteer Advisor worked with farmers, cooperatives, and unions to provide recommendations on logistical, transport, and post-harvest problems. This included issues such as transportation of sesame seed from the farms to the warehouses. He also visited groups of farmers to discuss issues including seedbed preparation, storage, pests, fertilizers, pesticides, seed varieties, and more.
An IESC Soil Volunteer Advisor visited farmers to evaluate soil quality and the potential for fertilizers to increase sesame productivity, and found that training in this area could lead more farmers to incorporate fertilizer in sesame production.
An IESC Mirofinance Volunteer Advisor visited Ethiopian financial institutions, farmers' cooperatives, and farmers' unions to identify the key areas in the sesame value chain where increased access to finance can bring positive change in the livelihood of the smallholder farmers. He assessed the capacities and financial capabilities of microfinance institutions in sesame-growing areas, and proposed new financial products to improve access to finance along the sesame value chain.