The largest private improved seed producer and supplier, Corteva Agriscience Ethiopia a.k.a. Ethiopian Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds, Inc., has been hit with management crisis following disputes that emerged since last month between local management and regional office, The Reporter has learnt.
According to sources that approached The Reporter, the dispute arose after top officials from the company’s African regional bureau set up and sent a team of investigators to investigate the top management of the local office who have allegedly been involved in misconduct.
Sources from Corteva Ethiopia who spoke to The Reporter on condition of anonymity stated that investigators arrived in Addis Ababa two weeks ago to establish facts on whether the Country Leader, Feseha Zeru, has committed an alleged misconduct that relates to abuse of power along with undisclosed aides in his management team.
Following the arrival of investigators, the company’s regular operation was halted until last week as the top management were said to have left the company.
Members of the management who have not showed up at their duties for two weeks include the country leader, Feseha Zeru, and other five top officials; namely: Gezahegn Ayele (Head of Finance Controlling), Abebaw Assefa (Senior Agronomist), Gudissa Geyessa (Territory and Health), Dereje Tullu (Territory and Health) and Ayenew Arega (Production Location Manager).
According to sources, due to the growing disputes the company has not been able to carry out its daily activities since June 22, 2021 while employees could not be paid their monthly salaries. Similarly the company has failed to sign and renew agreements with local growers who supply the improved seeds for the company.
Though the country leader and some of the top officials have not been in their offices as of late June, sources said the managers and other few heads of department neither informed nor appointed acting heads during the time they stayed off.
However, the country leader was said to have notified the Ministry of Trade last week that he left the company, in line with the law which stipulates that a company cannot go on without top leadership for over a month.
Following his report to the Ministry, the Ministry notified the company of the resignation of the top manager.
Furthermore The Reporter’s sources stated that the management of the regional body from South Africa has appointed interim leadership for three of the six vacant posts effective as of July 3. Accordingly, Fasil Yilma has assumed the country leader position.
However, according to the source, all six of them have not returned the company cars they received. The cars are said to have cost the company 22 mln birr.
Ethiopian Government, through the Ethiopian Seed Corporation, and U.S.A’s Pioneer HI-Bred International Inc. joined together to set up Ethiopia’s first joint venture, “Ethiopian Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds, Inc.” on December 4, 1991.
The relationship between the joint venture, Ethiopian Seed Corporation and Institute of Agricultural Research is not competitive but complementary and is an example of a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sector. Pioneer’s venture is also operating in developing, producing, processing and distributing facilities for hybrid seeds of maize, sunflower, sorghum, alfalfa and various vegetable seeds. It seeks to reduce Ethiopia’s dependence on imported seeds thus saving foreign currency for the country.
The company has a big market share trading more than 4 billion birr annually by supplying hybrid seeds and other agricultural inputs.