Research AreasAgrobiodiversity, Crops, Ecosystem Management, Market Access
TimelineStart Date: 18 January 2007 | End Date: 17 April 2010
Since the early 2000s, the governments of Sudan and Ethiopia have begun to diversify their traditional agricultural commodity exports to include higher value horticultural exports, including small quantities of vegetables and flowers which have been air-freighted to Europe. Both countries have vast areas of agricultural land with fertile soils, good water sources for irrigation, relatively low labour costs, and dry tropical climates which indicate an excellent potential for expanding horticultural exports. In addition, they are located within easy reach of urban markets in both Europe and the Middle East. Agricultural regions in Sudan and Ethiopia have good road infrastructure to the ports of Djibouti and Port Sudan.
The high value and expanding market for organic bananas has created opportunities for banana production in dry tropical or sub-tropical climates which predominate in Sudan and Ethiopia, where banana leaf diseases are a rarity. Currently, many growers use no pesticides and only limited fertilization on deep alluvial soils to produce “natural” bananas.
This CFC funded project aims to improve rural well being – economically, environmentally and socially by promoting organic banana production and marketing for export. To this end, the project has four objectives:
To strengthen the capacity of the national private and public sector players in the supply chain to provide up-to-date, vital services and information in a timely fashion for production, post harvest and marketing for effective expansion of organic banana exports. This will improve the access of the banana sectors in Sudan and Ethiopia to worldwide, state-of-the-art organic export banana production and post harvest technologies;
To establish organic banana production on 160 hectares in two pilot areas with the active participation and training of selected value-chain stakeholders;
To export certified organic bananas with the active participation and training of selected value-chain stakeholders.
To strengthen grower marketing associations to capture greater value-added from export of organic bananas with the active participation of small business management specialists.
There have been unavoidable delays and constraints, although funds remain available for extending the implementation period until the end of 2011. The project has made considerable progress towards meeting project objectives, in identifying export markets and growers willing and interested to produce better quality fruit for those markets, and limited exports are now occurring from Sudan to the Middle East. The private sector has signalled an interest for test marketing. The first tissue culture plants have recently been imported to Ethiopia and planted out in growers’ fields. If the varieties prove acceptable, further plants will be purchased in 2011 and it is hoped that tissue culture laboratories will by then have been identified in Ethiopia that can provide a local source of planting material. Limited project support to laboratories in both countries is proposed.
It is proposed to extend project partnership with the University of Arba Minch and GTZ/DED which has a large programme in Ethiopia and which is very interested in finding investors to develop infrastructure such as pack-houses on a commercial basis. In Sudan, there is a need to seek out similar partners, with a view to making links that will help to ensure the sustainability of project interventions after its completion.