Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Driving export growth: Lessons from the pulses, oilseed sector

Trade balance management is one of the paramount responsibilities of nations in the global political economy. Each nation possesses numerous resources to share and receive from the world market system. However, this two-way interaction is a highly complex endeavor, with many countries, especially developing ones, struggling to maintain balance.

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia’s overall share of export items could not surpass 10 percent of the GDP, which is significantly below the expected 25 percent for sub-Saharan economies. In light of these facts, the government has devised a strategic plan to accelerate the growth of export levels over the next 10 years. As part of this plan, the target for foreign earnings in the fiscal year is set to exceed USD 3.4 billion.

National income records reveal that the trade of pulses and oilseeds ranks second in agricultural export earnings, right after coffee. In line with these principles, the Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds, and Spices Processors and Exporters Association (EPOSPEA) implemented various collaborative operational schemes, with the prominent one being the organization of international conferences.

For the past 11 years, the Association has successfully hosted the International Conference on Pulses and Oilseeds (ICPOS) consecutively. Surveys indicate that the networking opportunities created at these conferences have resulted in a 50 percent annual increase in sales volume for Association members during the fiscal year. Others have also testified that the global information shared by major international actors and scholars has inspired them to restructure their exporting firms to meet international standards, enhancing their competitive position in global markets.

In light of the conference’s achievements, the number of contracts signed during the event rose by 30 percent compared to the previous two years. Moreover, there has been a greater interest in collaboration from various stakeholders, and demand for sideline exhibition setups has also climbed.

Beyond the aforementioned significances, the ICPOS has proven to be a valuable experience in achieving tangible objectives, a highly prospective platform for foreign earnings, and a promising scheme for international market financing institutions. It has also served as a feasible framework for multifaceted development integrations, attracting international supporters such as AGRA and GIZ.

Further, the leadership skills demonstrated by the sector and the Association have earned them prestigious positions within renowned institutions like the International Grain Conference and the GPC. These positions have provided opportunities to expand the share of the international market, enhance the reputation of the Association, and promote the country on a larger scale.

Building on the impactful roles of the previous 11 consecutive venues, the 12th International Conference on Pulses and Oilseeds is scheduled to take place on November 21-22 at the Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference’s theme is “Ethiopia: Sustainable Source for Your Agro Commodity Demand.”

In terms of customizing international marketing competencies, hosting conferences of this scale, such as ICPOS 12th, is believed to offer important features such as capitalizing on unique branding opportunities. It also promotes the periodic advantages of Ethiopia’s harvesting season as a special element of the world’s agricultural calendar.

The conference showcases Addis Ababa as a renowned African market center for pulses and oilseeds, in addition to being the capital of African politics. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to advocate for Ethiopia as a host of diverse agro-ecological endowments and a source for various pulses and oilseeds. It offers insights into the prospective potential market hub for African and Middle Eastern zones.

International events that Ethiopia may host this year, such as the ICPOS conference, are aligned with the strengthening economic aspects, further justifying their rationales. In this regard, the events to be held will have significant advantages, such as creating alternative markets due to the currently disrupted agricultural supplies from the Balkan regions.

Ethiopia is also on the verge of starting capital marketing, where agricultural products can be considered as commodities for exchange. The country’s acceptance as a member of BRICS opens up opportunities to exploit the emerging category of world economic market stratification. Ethiopia is potentially believed to play a significant role in the international campaign advocating for changes in the world food system through collaborative involvement of small-scale farmers, through models like contractual farming.

There has been relative improvement in international cooperation through trade and development, and mechanized farming is advancing nationally, leading to the diversification of exportable agricultural products, which is considered a model intervention by Africans and the global community.

Thus, international events that highlight their specific features within the realm of international dynamics and turbulence hold objective values of familiarization. They also play significant roles in creating direct market options, providing better opportunities for adopting standardized business norms and relationships, and improving the competence of the export sector in the global market environment.

(Zelalem Zemede is the general manager of the Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds, and Spices Processors – Exporters Association (EPOSPEA). He can be reached at [email protected].)

Contributed by Zelalem Zemede

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