Agro-BIG News

“Poor man’s food” turned into a new and appealing product

 

 Some years ago, when Berhanu Aragaw was working with development of income generating activities for poor families, he familiarized himself with multiple usages of potato flour. He got interested in the importance of potato for food security in Ethiopia started a potato processing company, currently employing nine people. In his factory in the outskirts of Bahir Dar, Berhanu is producing potato flour for injera and bread, baby food and potato bread itself. Bread contains 70 percent of potato and 30 percent wheat flour. Strong impulse to invest in the business was the reception of a patent from the Ethiopian Science and Technology Commission and access to a technology that enables the acquirement of 30 -45 percent dry matter content from potato instead of the normal 20 percent.        

Last year, Berhanu was awareded with an AgroBIG Value Chain grant of 136,000 birr with 27,112 own contribution, and bought another oven, baking machine and cupboard for the pre-handling of bread. As a result, the production increased about 15 percent and he is planning to hire four additional people. Currently, Berhanu has one shop of his own and two other locations for retail. The challenge still remains in people’s attitudes.People consider potato as poor man’s food and are suspicious towards novel products. That is why active promoting would be crucial.  

     
Ethiopia’s leading potato processor in the future.

Berhanu praises the Bazaar, supported by AgroBIG in collaboration with the Bureau for Trade, Industry and Market Development, organized in Bahir Dar early 2016, where people had the chance to taste the appetizing bread. As a result, it seems that in the future the need to cover the potato ingredient behind a mysterious label “Special Bread” would be long gone, and people will be running to get the fresh bakery product from the stores.

However, proper packaging and better linkages with the retailing shops are additional issues to be solved for the production to bloom and reach its full potential. Berhanu has an ambitious vision to become nationally known potato processor in Ethiopia. On the way in reaching his dreams, he plans to expand his business outside Bahir Dar by opening a branch in Mecha. “Kas be kas”, step by step, as Ethiopians say.

     
Semi-Processed potato for bread making.