A fact-finding mission in Ethiopia

Background

Ethiopia is one of the developing countries, with about 85% of the population living on subsistence agriculture. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia has been among the three fastest growing economies in the world for several years, and despite its poverty, it represents great potential.

The expert visit was organized by Slovenian company INOA, which has been operating successfully in Ethiopia since 2017. As part of the Greening Ethiopian Manufacturing (GEM) project, it has been working with more than 100 local stakeholders from the public and private sectors, especially successfully in Lalibela on sustainable tourism.

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, made his first official visit to Ethiopia in October 2018. Both countries have identified a common interest in agriculture, especially beekeeping. The newly established Slovenian Beekeeping Academy and the possibilities of transferring Slovenian beekeeping knowledge to interested experts were presented to the Ethiopian side.

As part of Africa Day in May 2019, INOA introduced the GEM project and hosted Ethiopian partner Precise Consult. The first talks with the BAS about the possibilities of cooperation have taken place.

At the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in October 2019, the first meeting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-MAFF-SČA-INOA was organized.

The meeting was arranged for a fact-finding mission to Ethiopia in the early 2020s.

INOA completed a field visit of Ethiopia in late October last year.

Meetings with key stakeholders during the visit

On 10 March, the Head of the BAS and the Deputy Director of INOA visited the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hezkiel, Head of the Cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture, Aynalem, Secretary of State (Minister of State for Agricultural Input and Output Marketing Sector).

We have gained their trust and political support to continue our work. The Ethiopian side has expressed support for the inclusion of beekeeping as an added value to existing sustainable practices in Ethiopia.

On 12.3. we visited the Bee Research Center in Holeta, a central Ethiopian beekeeping development institution committed to developing good beekeeping practices with local beekeepers in East Africa. They are carrying out more activities to increase production, improve beekeeping technology, based on natural resources and local beekeeping. They are mainly active in the production of quality honey and bee products, breeding queens and genetics, bee forages, production of beekeeping equipment, agricultural research. The research center employs 110 researchers and 16 branches for transferring the latest knowledge to local farmers.

The Holeta Center is funded by the Ethiopian Government and partly through EU projects and non-governmental organizations (FAO, etc.). Despite the high-quality level of operation of the Center, they have relatively little experience in linking sustainable tourism with beekeeping, which they have shown great interest in.

We visited the central Ethiopian tourist destination, Lalibela in the Amharic region. We met with local beekeepers, visited a local market offering honey, and met with the mayor and management of a local tourism organization. They were acquainted with the possibilities of developing further joint projects in the field of sustainable tourism with elements of organic beekeeping, for which they showed interest.

Conclusion

The project proposal of the INOA, which will link sustainable eco-friendly tourism practices with beekeeping, has received strong support from Holeta Research Center. INOA will cooperate with the BAS in the preparation of professional content of the project, especially at the level of knowledge transfer in the field of beekeeping, with an emphasis on sustainable beekeeping, safety, and quality of bee products. The Holeta Research Center will work with a team of researchers in the local implementation of the practical part of the project.

Further steps include the conceptual design of a sustainable tourism project in connection with beekeeping, as well as interviews with potential interested donors (FAO, BPW, ITF, EU).

The continued role of the MFA will be welcomed in liaising with key interlocutors, engaging in development assistance and interdepartmental cooperation schemes (MAFF, MAFF), in promoting the project at international events (Africa Day, MAFF World Bee Day, BSF).