Contract Farming Regional Governance Forums Held in Tigray and SNNPR

The contract farming regional organizational setup consultative workshop was held in Mekelle, Tigray on Feb 12, 2019, at the Axum Hotel. While the MNS Contract Farming Project Zonal & Local Governance Forum Organizational Setup Sensitization Workshop was held the following Friday,  February 22, 2019, in Arbaminch.  The representative of ETIDI, Tigray Bureau of Agriculture & Rural Development, Tigray Regional Cooperative Agency, and ATA participated in the workshop in Tigray where participants showed a strong interest in the project. The participants highlighted that the cotton production package was non-existent to regions and not implemented in the regular extension system. ETIDI confirmed the package exists and will jointly be customized with the regional bureau of agriculture for the project. The participants emphasized ensuring the availability of seeds and effective agrochemicals to fight against damaging pests as bollworm and mill bug.

The participants in SNNPR, on the other hand, discussed and agreed upon the responsibilities of the zonal and local governance forum in Arbaminch. Meaningful insights from ETIDI, PAN Ethiopia and MNS Manufacturing PLC were presented at the workshop. Gamo zone administration representative Ato Eshetu Elto defined contract farming as ‘selling now and producing later’. He added contract farming is the way forward and committed to supporting the project with all the resources and leadership needed from the Zone for the successful implementation.

At the end of the discussion, the zonal steering committee was established with the management of Zonal bureau of agriculture, regional representatives and resource mobilization wings (ATA, AGP and Regional Planning). The committee will be chaired by Gamo Zone Bureau of Agriculture and co-chaired by the Plant Health Clinic with the following institutions as members: Gamo Zone Bureau of Trade and Market Development, Enterprise and Industry Development office, Cooperative Office, Zonal Agricultural Transformation Agency, Arbaminch Research Center, Regional Bureau of Agriculture, PAN Ethiopia, MNS Manufacturing, Ethiopian Textile Industry Development Institute and Enterprise Partners.

Way forward

The final consensus in Tigray was for Hiwot Farm to ensure availability of seed and agrochemicals to farmers for the pilot CF farmers, with the right quality. For labour-intensive products such as cotton, it was recommended that the CF model would benefit from the integration of vital mechanization, including agro-chemical spraying technology. Unfortunately, cotton production has been affected by a lack of buyers and markets but since the core objective of the CF scheme is guaranteeing markets, buyers will have contractual obligations to purchase agreed volumes. The CF project unanimously endorsed and agreed to be owned by the regional marketing committee where the committee plans to cascade it down to the zonal level for implementation.

In SNNPR, the local governance forum will be established at Woreda and corresponding Kebele level where the Office of Trade and Market Development, Cooperative office, MNS and PAN Ethiopia staff will be part of the forum. To address the lack of widespread understanding of contract farming and repair damages from the past, it was advised to roll out widespread awareness creation programs on contract farming. It was also pointed out to incorporate Crop Insurance and conflict resolution mechanisms as an important part of the CF scheme. MNS Manufacturing has decided to support the required inputs and facilities where broader research-based interventions will be needed to be put in place to continuously feed the Contract Farming scheme. Participants have stressed on careful considerations and clarity of some issues in developing CF contracts where the Gamo Zone Agricultural Office has taken contract farming project leadership.  The next sensitization workshop will take place in the Amhara region, in Gondar city, on Saturday, March 16 2019.