ETHIOPIA – Ethiopia is seeking to become a major barley powerhouse following a production boost project spearheaded by Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, a subsidiary of the French-based Gruope Soufflet.

The milestone follows that, in 2019, the IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) invested US$22.33 million (€20 million) in Soufflet Malt Ethiopia to boost local malt sourcing by helping smallholder farmers increase productivity.

According to IFC, the impacts have exceeded expectations following an unprecedented achievement that the Corporation called “a transformation for the country’s agriculture” in just four years.

IFC divulged that the innovative public-private BOOST program is the primary driver of this success by providing training, resources, and markets to over 7,300 smallholder farmers.

In addition, IFC reports that Soufflet Malt Ethiopia’s investments and farmer support model have paid dividends, allowing the brewer to now source 100 percent of its needs domestically.

Despite Ethiopia being the largest barley producer in Africa and the fourth largest beer maker on the continent, before the project, 70 percent of its malt was said to be imported.

With the investment, Soufflet Ethiopia however, has revealed that it now sources 100 percent of its barley locally, with 80 percent from smallholder farmers.

Farmers like nearly doubled yields and incomes through BOOST. Remarkably, the program has increased smallholder earnings by 150 percent on average, an IFC source stated.

According to All Africa, the turnaround is also reflected in UN trade data that shows that Ethiopia slashed barley imports by an enormous 78 percent since 2018.

It is also reported that, for generations, farmers in Ethiopia’s highland regions have cultivated barley due to the favorable climate. However, traditional farming methods along with restricted access to key resources have kept yields below what the land could truly produce.

In addition, inefficient supply networks have created challenges for farmers seeking reliable markets and incomes.

With the milestone, experts believe that IFC’s expertise in agribusiness has helped them put in place an extensive network of barley farmers and improve agricultural productivity in Ethiopia.

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