Bogale Borena, a fifty-year old father of six, recently set up an avocado nursery with the capacity to produce 40 000 grafted seedlings. Now employing 14 young people, Bogale’s nursery is an example of how inclusive agricultural value chains can boost youth employment and farmers’ incomes, contributing to the eradication of poverty.
Local farmers, like Bogale, became motivated to grow avocados when a new avocado oil processing plant was established within the Integrated Agro Industries Park (IAIP) near their village. Employing 490 locals, this is the first park of its kind.
The current project - Inclusive and Sustainable Value Chain Development (ISVCD) - benefits 300 000 avocado farmers with FAO's technical assistance in the Sidama and SNNPR regions with the aim of developing a value chain scheme, improving productivity and quality of commercial avocado varieties and promoting sustainable farming practices for local smallholders. The project is a soft loan from the government of Italy implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture to support the development of selected commodities for the Bulbula and Yirgalem IAIPs.
Gizachew Bogale, Manager of the Yirgalem agro industries park, says that the biggest challenge he faces is meeting the daily avocado demand. He works closely with smallholder avocado growers to ensure an adequate supply.
“This FAO project has the potential to make a significant contribution to the sustainable supply of avocado fruits for all involved industries.”
Through careful avocado nursery management, the use of grafting tools and polyethene bags Bogale increased production from 15 000 seedlings in 2020 to 40 000 in 2021. He has seen an immediate pay off as it takes less than a year to grow and sell seedlings, yet 3 to 4 years to yield fruits. In fact, initially selling seedlings locally for 50 birr a piece, he now has a projected potential earnings of 2 million birrs (around USD 50 000). Furthermore, by 2022 he plans to produce 100 000 seedlings.
“I plan to improve my house, buy a truck to transport fruits and other agricultural items, and establish a flour mill in my village. This will serve the local community, and create employment opportunities for local youth.”