Speech by Edmond Wega on behalf of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) at the opening of the IPMS experience-sharing workshop held at ILRI on 2 and 3 June 2011.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
It’s an honor and a pleasure for me to provide introductory remarks for this workshop on Market Oriented Small-holder Development in Support of the Growth and Transformation Plan.
With many Ethiopians still lacking access to food including about 7.5 million listed as chronically food insecure, Canada is proud to be assisting these vulnerable populations through its contribution to successful national initiatives such as the Productive Safety Net Program.
However, long term sustainable growth cannot be achieved by focusing only on the most vulnerable populations. Promoting Agricultural Growth is also a critical component as strongly stated in the GTP. The GTP calls for building an economy which has a modern and productive agricultural sector with enhanced technology. It also talks about intensified commercialization of smallholder farming as a major source of Agricultural growth.
As such to promote growth in the sector, encouraging market led production of agricultural products in order to increase competitiveness in domestic, regional, and international markets is essential. This requires responsive and robust value chains for key agricultural commodities with high potential for growth. Such commodities include dairy products, apiculture products, and meat products. Canada considers Ethiopia’s agricultural sector to be full of untapped potential.
The Government of Canada decided to contribute to sustainable growth in the agricultural sector over 5 years ago when it funded the Improving Productivity and Market Access to enable the Ministry of Agriculture through ILRI to carry out different interventions in participatory market-oriented development. Some of these interventions had limited success while many others exceeded expectations.
After 6 years, there is now a substantive volume of lessons learned which can be put to profit in programs such as the Agricultural Growth Program. Indeed we believe these lessons learned can contribute to meeting the broader objectives set out in the Growth and Transformation Plan.
With the IPMS project ending soon, it is even more crucial for Ministry of Agriculture and IPMS to share more broadly the lessons learned so that the Agricultural Sector as a whole can benefit from this knowledge. Too often, projects have not managed to successfully disseminate their lessons to allow others to profit from their experiences.
As a result, I am proud to have the opportunity to provide introductory remarks for this workshop. I would also like to stress that although various methods, processes and approaches to promote commodity value chain development will be presented over the course of the workshop, these are not the only lessons learned worth capturing or using.
Important knowledge on gender, HIV/AIDS and environmental issues has also been collected. These are equally important to consider/integrate in other new agricultural initiatives if Ethiopia is to tap and profit from its agricultural potential.
To conclude I would like to emphasize the role and importance of Ethiopia’s 13 million small-holder producers in meeting the GTP objectives. A sustainable future lies in their capacity to adopt market-oriented and innovative practices that improve production and commercialization. The contributions made by MoA and IPMS are important elements of this strategy. I wish you a very successful workshop.