Public-Private BOOST program transforms Ethiopia into major barley powerhouse
Ethiopia has become almost fully self-sufficient in barley production in just four years—an unprecedented achievement the International Finance Corporation called a transformation for the country’s agriculture.
International agencies and players in the brewery industry, along with authorities, began efforts in 2018 to develop Ethiopia’s barley sector after data showed the country was importing a staggering 70 percent of the grains needed by its booming brewing industry.
With Ethiopia the fifth largest barley producer in Africa, experts believed the potential was there to drastically cut imports.
The innovative public-private BOOST program spearheaded by Soufflet Malt Ethiopia has been a primary driver of this success by providing training, resources and markets to over 7,300 smallholder farmers. It was launched with funding support from IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP.
Jean-Benoit Vivet, General Manager of Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, told IFC that “building local supply chains is at the heart of our strategy to ensure we have enough barley to feed our factory.”
The company’s investments and farmer support model have paid dividends, allowing Soufflet to now source 100 percent of its needs domestically.
The turnaround is reflected in UN trade data showing Ethiopia slashed barley imports by an enormous 78 percent since 2018.
According to a story shared by IFC, the impacts have exceeded expectations. Farmers like nearly doubled yields and incomes through BOOST. Remarkably, the program has increased smallholder earnings by 150 percent on average, the same sourced added.
For generations, farmers in Ethiopia’s highland regions have cultivated barley due to the favorable climate. However, traditional farming methods along with restricted access to key resources have kept yields below what the land could truly produce. In addition, inefficient supply networks have created challenges for farmers seeking reliable markets and incomes.
Breweries have benefited the most from the country’s import substitution program, as they obtain a significant proportion of their barley supplies from domestic producer Souflett.