Ethiopian Business Review

Ashenafi Endale

Ashenafi Endale

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Struggling to Find a Foothold

Saturday, 15 June 2019 00:00 Published in Topic

The Fight to Develop Commercial Farming

Commercial farming, which dates back to the imperial era in Ethiopia, has gone through many ups and downs. Even though the government gave local and foreign commercial producers the green light to start producing around five years ago, many of the companies that leased land and took loans from the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) have left the sector altogether, citing difficulties with developing their land for production. However, this has left DBE unable to recover the billions of birr it disbursed to commercial farmers. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale explored the problems facing commercial farming, and the potential in its future.

Khalid Bomba is the CEO of the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), which he has helmed since its establishment in December 2010. In that time, his name has become synonymous with the revitalization process in Ethiopian agriculture. 

His road towards agriculture was not a direct one. A graduate of Swarthmore College in the United States, he also holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics. He also spent over ten years working in corporate finance, and on sovereign debt issues at JP Morgan, and at other private sector institutions. He was regional director for African countries at the Global e-Schools and Communities’ Initiative, a UN-ICT Task Force, and finally, senior agricultural development program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, after which he was tasked with establishing and leading the ATA, which was financed by the Ethiopian government as well as institutions like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Agency is tasked with crafting policy instruments to forward agricultural development in the country, based on research analysis, as well as helping to provide support and education for those in the sector, operating as something between a public institution and a private business.

Even though Khalid believes that science should be the ultimate decider of the country’s policy direction, the agriculture sector in Ethiopia still relies on tradition wisdom and methods. However, Khalid argues, with the finalization of the soil map, one of the ATA’s grand projects, agriculture will come around in the next few years. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale sat down with him to find out more.

Local Edible Oil Producers Thrive in Hard Times

Saturday, 15 June 2019 00:00 Published in Investment

The local edible oil industry is thriving. Reversing the decades-long preference for imported brands, more local oil brands are now available in major trading areas. As consumers start to become wary of the health implications of imported palm oil, opportunities are opening up for local producers. However, the rise in the numbers of local producers does not mean their market share has improved. Because of the low level of attention given to the area by the government, local producers are facing shortages of raw materials. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale spoke to consumers, producers, government officials and experts to shed light on the matter.