Agro-BIG News

Unemployed rural women engaged in potato processing business

 

Could you have imagined having freshly prepared chips for a snack in a rather remote kebele somewhere between the valleys in Mecha woreda? It is possible! Since last July, twelve energetic ladies have been serving processed potatoes in Brkat and Gerchech kebeles in Mecha.

To address the prevalent youth unemployment, the offices for Women and Children’s Affairs and for Technical and Vocational Enterprise Development, have organized twelve unemployed ladies, aged between 22 and 27, in groups of six in two kebeles. After five days of AgroBIG supported training on potato and onion processing, groups started their business with total eight frying machines offered by AgroBIG. During the first days they served chips and crisps free of charge to attract new customers. Fried potato products are not traditionally familiar and currently majority of the buyers still are youngsters below 18 years of age. During our visit quite a bunch of young boys and girls indeed had come around for the 1 and 2 birr crisp bags.

Ladies work independently but both groups have a joint savings scheme. In Brkat, with 5 birr weekly contribution of each individual, the group has already been able to save enough to buy fifth frying machine on their own.

Erratic flow of electricity however, remains a problem. Also a shelter and a link with urban traders would boost the production and open up new markets. Currently some local shops take crisp bags for resale.

potato chips   

        

Seblewongel Alebel, 25, and Meseret Abere, 23, are preparing chips together in Brkat. Currently they have only five machines for the six girls in the group. Lack of constant flow of electricity makes them often to revive the traditional methods in the form of charcoal and frying pan. Seblewongel is the only member who has a shelter under which to prepare chips. She is happy for the income she has generated while hoping to diversify her business even more into potato starch and tomato processing.

potato chips