This week, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Ethiopian partners are launching several new projects that focus on improving Ethiopia’s food system. The projects are part of the portfolio of the newly established Stichting Wageningen Research Ethiopia.
Stichting Wageningen Research Ethiopia (SWR Ethiopia) is an international NGO that has been registered in Ethiopia since March 2021. Where projects in Ethiopia were bilateral undertakings until now, SWR Ethiopia will serve as a hub for projects that WUR undertakes with all kinds of partners in Ethiopia. “This will lead to much more synergy between projects and enable us to work on food system transformation in a broader sense,” says Dawit Alemu, country representative for SWR Ethiopia. SWR Ethiopia will launch four new projects:
From BENEFIT programme to a broader food systems approach
“The projects that we launch build on what we have achieved in the BENEFIT partnership,” says Dawit Alemu. BENEFIT, the Bilateral Ethiopian-Netherlands Effort for Food, Income and Trade, was a large partnership covering diverse aspects of the food system in Ethiopia and ran from 2016-2021. Alemu: “In BENEFIT we identified best-fit practices to increase the quality and quantity of sustainable agricultural production. For example, in the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) project – part of BENEFIT – we contributed to the improvement in the availability and use of quality seed of new and improved varieties, which is an important factor for increased agricultural productivity and production. In the REALISE project we specifically worked with food-insecure households to identify and validate best-fit practices to increase production and improve their diets.”
Mohammed Hassena is project manager for the new “Ethiopia Netherlands Seed Partnership” – ENSP. Mohammed Hassena: “ENSP will build on the achievements of ISSD and capitalise on what we have learned over the past five years. We will focus on regions in Ethiopia that haven’t been reached yet and on areas in which we see gaps. We take an approach in which we work with selected companies to learn what challenges they face. For instance, they may lack access to basic starter seed. Or they may need options to increase the production of early-generation seed. By working with these companies as selected case studies we can find out what’s needed to overcome basic challenges and work with policy makers and private sector stakeholders on long-term solutions.”
Kick-off meeting March 16
The new set of projects will officially be launched during a launching event in Ethiopia and online, on March 16. During the first half of the programme key results of projects under the BENEFIT programme are shared. The second half of the programme, starting at 12:00 CET and open for virtual as well as physical attendance, focuses on the kick-off of the new set of projects. Distinguished guests of honour, ranging from Prof. Louise O. Fresco (WUR) to HE Henk Jan Bakker (Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Addis Ababa) and HE Mr Oumer Hussein (Minister of Agriculture of Ethiopia) will share their reflections at the end of the day.