Agro-BIG News

Rice and Maize Selected as Additional Value Chains for Agro-BIG Support

The new year kicked off with a set of two additional value chains in the Agro-BIG programme. In the past year, Agro-BIG has supported two value chains, those of onion and potato. Starting from the beginning of 2015, programme support will be extended to maize and rice.

The crops have been selected by using the criteria of production potential, outreach (in terms of number of producers) and market potential. Both crops have also good prospects to address the needs of women and vulnerable groups.

Maize is a tremendously important crop for smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in Ethiopia. It is a staple crop and one of Ethiopia’s most produced cereals. It is produced in larger quantities than other cereal crops such as teff and sorghum. Maize is also important for food security as it the lowest cost source of cereal calories . It provides 1,5 times and two times the calories per dollar compared to wheat and teff respectively. Mecha woreda, one of Agro-BIG’s programme areas, is considered a maize belt area with its suitable agro-climatic condition. An effective maize sector would quickly help in reducing the national food deficit and continuing to produce food for a growing population.

Rice is an emerging crop in Ethiopia. One of Agro-BIG’s programme areas, Fogera, is well known for its rice production. There is a huge potential to do more and to benefit different actors working in the rice value chain, including producers, input suppliers, traders, processors and consumers. Rice is identified as a strategic crop and named as a Millennium crop by the national rice strategy in the country. This crop has a huge prospect to expand given the existing constraints are bridged in a systematic manner.

What can be achieved with the value chain approach

The aim of Agro-BIG’s interventions is to address constraints and thereby enhance better marketability of products. This means, for example, improving farmers’ access to improved quality potato and onion seeds, improving farmers’ skills and practices in good agronomic practices, harvesting, post-harvest handling techniques, facilitating coops to sort and grade potato and onion based on quality. It also means strengthening farmers’ organizational capacity for aggregation and facilitating farmers’ access to extension and financial services.

Implementation in the two additional value chains will start in early 2015. To meet this end a value chain analysis of both crops has been conducted to identify potential interventions and actions for AgroBIG programme support.