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Linking Potato Farmers in Ethiopia to Senselet

The potato value chain is valuable as it plays a great role in food security in Ethiopia. To increase the production of potatoes farmers and to create access to markets, STARS, a program of ICCO Cooperation,  linked farmers to Senselet Food Processing, a factory owned by Dutch investors. 

Linking Potato Farmers in Ethiopia to Senselet

STARS partnered with Senselet Food, the only chips making factory in Ethiopia to date, to work on the issues of market, quality and basic seed availability. Also, STARS worked with farmers to improve their quality and quantity.

Sales Opportunity

Farmers supplied 80 tons of potatoes to the company for a fair price. They were able to sell their produce at farmgate with proper measurement, which makes a better price for the farmers compared to the traders who weigh in their own favor. Ato Hailu Bayissa is one of the farmers who sold his potatoes:

¨I am very happy with Senselet Food, it helps a lot as we used to bury our potatoes for the lack of market, I need this business linkage to continue.¨

After the successful market linkage, farmers visited Senselet Food to learn more about quality standards required by the company and to see how their produce could go beyond their horizon. They saw examples of rejectable and acceptable potatoes.

Proud Farmers

The partnership with Senselet is a step in the right direction. Growing potatoes, allows farmers develop a crop rotation system; farmers produce another crop after potatoes are harvested, which is healthy for the soil. Farmers are motivated to grow potatoes when they have a new market outlet. By providing agriculture best practices training, they are better aware of the quality demands. And by linking them to a big buyer, farmers are proud to be part of the value chain, all the way up to the chip bags in the supermarkets. And the MFIs? Will they step in with loans that are adapted to the needs of farmers? Martha Yilma, Gender and Value Chain Development Officer of STARS Ethiopia:

“They wait for new seeds. We have planned to approach the MFIs when the new basic seeds are secured. STARS and Senselet Food are co-investing in the production of a new potato seed generation.”

About STARS

The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program is a five-year program (2016-2021) implemented by ICCO Cooperation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. Through a market systems development approach it focuses on improving access to finance and markets for 210,000 smallholders in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, and Burkina Faso.

Author Christien van den Brink
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