Seedling Production as a Potential Business for Youth
Many young people from the Amhara region in Ethiopia have to rely on their parents for support for a long time as unemployment is very high, particularly among youth. But for four young people from Lejet Kebele, in Dembecha District in East Gojjam Zone, the future is looking promising.
Since February 2018, the four young people (2 men and 2 women) have initiated the ‘Hidase’ youth group and started a seedling business by renting half a hectare of land from neighbors at an annual price of 15,000.00 ETB (397.43USD) near the main road to Bahir Dar, the regional capital city.
ICCO Cooperation – with financial support from the Act Church of Sweden – assists the seedling production and marketing business in the area. ICCO’s Strengthening Agricultural Finance in Ethiopia Project (SAFE) gave the group members a theoretical and practical training guide and know-how on the production, propagation and post-harvest handling. In addition to the technical training, ICCO supported the group with plastic tubes for seedling production and propagation.
Applying all the good practices from the training and technical support, the group was able to produce 7,000 mango seedlings, 5,000 avocados seedlings and 5,000 papaya seedlings. Besides, they produce indigenous tree seedlings side by side. All the fruit seedlings are sold for the public and retailed at the farm gate. With the selling of the seedlings the youth were able to earn a total of 86,000.00 ETB (2,278.57 USD) in total.
The group also took advantage of the Green Legacy Initiative, declared by the Ethiopian Prime Minister in 2019 aiming to combat environmental degradation, resilience building, and transforming into a green society. In this initiative, Ethiopia planned to plant 5 billion tree seedlings. This initiative gave the youth group market linkages with institutional buyers.
The group members improved their entrepreneurship skills, generated income from the fruit seedlings, built self-confidence and became independent from their parents’ support. All the members agree that the seedling business changed their lives, and in the future, they plan to continue the work. However, even though the business is good, they have also been experiencing some challenges that prevent them from expanding more, like scion, seed, and land supply shortage. Currently, the youth group has sufficiently completed organic compost and land preparation for the 2021 seedling production season.