Launches a five-year strategic plan
The Japanese Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), an NGO which came to Africa three decades ago to help famine hit countries in East Africa, has renewed its commitments to Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Uganda to help smallholder farmers of these countries enhance agricultural productivities.
Sasakawa Global 2000 Ethiopia, which runs under the umbrella of SAA, held a two-day meeting in Adama, Oromia Regional State from Thursday and Friday in a view to craft the new 2017 to 2021 strategic plan. The organization announced that it has made new commitments to work in areas of climate change, youth, women and people with special needs. The NGO has also commemorated the 30th anniversary of its involvement in Africa.
Eyasu Abrha (PhD), Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Sileshi Getahun, head of the Oromia Bureau of Agriculture, commended how Sasakawa Global 2000 has been instrumental in its operations in Ethiopia. Both officials have commended the NGO for introducing massive agricultural extension services in the country. Back in the 1980s, the extension services, which impacted a few thousands, now have produced millions of farmers trained and close to 70,000 more development agents who are currently delivering extension services across the country.
Abera Debelo (PhD), country director of Sasakawa Global 2000 Ethiopia told The Reporter that it was the Government of Ethiopia that took the initiative to earmark and invest massively in agriculture and that made SAA to draw attention to Ethiopia. The adoption of then widely publicized and currently faded out Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI) policy brought about drastic changes in a way the government does business in the sector.
Making things turn into reality, the transitional government during the 1990s Ethiopia availed a 400 million revolving fund for the purchase and distribution of seeds across the country with the help of Sasakawa Global 2000, Aberra recalled. The transition from “hunger to bumper yield” was achieved in the early 1990s and that even led to havocs of post-harvest losses, Aberra said.
According to Berecha Turi (former MP), theme coordinator of the Public Private Partnership and Market Access (PPPMA), the NGO has provided a 10 million birr revolving fund to assist microfinance institutions to extend a loan guarantee to farmers’ cooperative unions. Berecha said that farmers have been empowered to invest in farming tools, storage constructions and the like and were able to repay loans in a short period of time, mostly within one to three years.
Sasakawa was introduced in Ethiopia in 1993 by the invitation of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. It came a decade after famine and hunger in Ethiopia led hundreds of thousands to death.
That said SAA was backed by the African Green Revolution – a brainchild of Norman Borlaug (PhD), the famous agricultural expert who sought to end hunger and starvation in the continent via enhanced agricultural productivity in early the 1980s. That effort, however, bare no fruit as the food insecurity crisis persisted to affect millions in Ethiopia and beyond. According to the minister, poor access to agricultural inputs, poor market access, and lack of skills, chronic and cyclic malnutrition, poor planning and communications, and unavailability of resources are what the smallholder farmers of this country are facing to date. Hence, he called on to the likes of Sasakawa Global 2000 to extend more exerted efforts and supports.