Agro-BIG News

Potato crisps from Bahir Dar – also available in the supermarket

 

Potato chips and crisps are an emerging business in Bahir Dar. You may spot the little frying machines by the streets all around the town.

Twenty six potato chips processors, 24 females, have lately been supported by AgroBIG with advisory services on marketing, accounting and saving as well as creating crucial linkages with input suppliers and markets. Nineteen of the processors who are organized in two cooperatives, have also received a pushcart earlier the year. Meanwhile 7 women still work independently, but a third cooperative is in the process of being legalized. Facilitator Ms Meron Worku explains that cooperative membership eases the access to inputs and raw materials such as potatoes and government subsidized cooking oil when oil price can be 15 birr lower per liter. Potatoes are so far bought from the market, but negotiations with ETFRUIT are on-going to weekly provide coops with potatoes.

     

Processors have received training on various issues but packaging would still need attention. Candle light sealing of the small plastic bags is a common practice, and there is resistance among processors towards mechanizing this practice. It could, however, bring some advantages, as the story of Sintayehu, owner of Sente Chips, proves.

 Ms Sintayehu, a mother of 3 children, is frying samubusas (local fried lentil or vege pastry) and potato crisps in Hospital Road in kebele 13. She has been involved in the business already for 4 years, but is not part of any cooperative yet. Before she had a hair salon, but due to land access issues she gave up on that, bought a frying machine and decided to try it out with potatoes instead. Recently Sintayehu received support and advice from AgroBIG in accounting and in creating linkage with a supermarket in Bahir Dar. She convinced the Tigist supermarket to take her crisps for sale and is now providing the supermarket with packaged crisps on a regular basis.        

Ms Tigist, owner of the Tigist supermarket, explains having tried other suppliers but they have not been reliable with offering a constant supply. Also Sintayehu’s quality is supreme. Crisps are not oily, not too salty and what is the best: they taste good. Packaging is firm and does not unintentionally open as the candle sealed bags often do. Every 3 days Tigist receives crisps to sell averagely 150 bags per week. “Everybody is buying, even the foreigners” is the reply when asked about the customer base.

Sintayehu recognizes that good quality and proper packaging with contact details was crucial for this advancement. After buying a packaging machine 3 months ago, she can now reach additional markets. Another super market has already shown interest to take her crisps for sale as well.
This linkage has increased Sintayehu’s monthly revenue for about 1000 birr. She explains that the packaged crisps are more profitable than the freshly sold paper wrapped chips, which are time consuming to prepare and sell as they are not storable. She has a savings account where she deposits frequently.
In the future Sintayehu wishes to buy more machinery, adding two frying machines to the already existing two, and buy a bajaj (a 3-wheel vehicle) for distributing the products around town. Very soon a signpost will lead customers to her small shop. Meanwhile she would welcome any further support from AgroBIG in the form of training or materials, such as pushcarts.