In April 2016 he formed a beekeeper cooperative together with 16 other young men and women.

April 2016 he formed a beekeeper cooperative together with 16 other young men and women.

Green Innovation Centre created new jobs in the agri-food sector

Munich/Addis Ababa, 12 June 2017. Over 60 % of Ethiopians are under the age of 25. But many school leavers are faced with a lack of career prospects. Within the scope of Green Innovation Centres, established by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as part of the special “World without Hunger” initiative, the Menschen für Menschen Foundation – Karlheinz Böhm’s Ethiopia Aid, is supporting commercial farmer groups and creating jobs for young people in rural areas.

The goal of the Green Innovation Centres is to boost the productivity of smallholdings, promote employment – particularly in processing – and improve regional food supplies through innovations in the agri-food sector. “With our Green Innovation Centres we want to strengthen the rural structure overall, enable the people to feed themselves and, in particular, give young people career prospects,” is how Gunther Beger, Head of the Department for Rural Development of the BMZ, explains the Green Innovation Centre approach. Approximately 2,000 new jobs are to be created and about 70,000 smallholders trained in Ethiopia by 2021.

Karlheinz Böhm’s Ethiopia Aid is implementing Green Innovation Centres in the Dano project region, about 230 kilometres west of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. “In Dano, as in other Menschen für Menschen project regions, the farmers often produce more than they need for their own consumption,” says Executive Director Peter Renner, responsible for the organization’s project work in Ethiopia. “The aim is to support farmers and young people in the production, processing and marketing of their products by setting up value-added chains.” Within the scope of a Green Innovation Centre, 930 farmers and previously unemployed young people have already received jobs and are earning income in the production of honey and wax, fruit and vegetables, seeds, oilseed and animal feed. Furthermore, about 1,500 other people in the region have gained indirect benefits from the project, according to Renner.

Career prospects with beekeeper cooperatives

As one of only a few young men in the central Ethiopian town of Seyo, a few years ago 21-year-old Adane Mekonnen completed the 12th class at school. But further education or even university studies was out of the question. “That was beyond our means.” Farm work would have appealed to him, he says, but apart from occasional jobs, no-one gave him the opportunity. His daily routine was thus: meet friends, hang out and let the day somehow pass. Anyone who had money to spare would donate a few games of table tennis and maybe a round of beer. “Those were difficult times,” the 21-year-old says today. “Life is like that for many young people. They simply lack career prospects.”

Recently, Adane’s life changed for the better. In April 2016 he formed a beekeeper cooperative together with 16 other young men and women. It was set up by Menschen für Menschen. The aim of this and other commercial farmer groups based on the Foundation’s initiative is to increase the farmers’ income by market-oriented production and to create earning opportunities for young people and women in rural areas. Menschen für Menschen wants to boost agricultural yields with training, advice and equipment. Parts of the agricultural value-added chain are to be placed in the hands of small cooperatives. Particularly disadvantaged groups such as women and young people will benefit from these training courses.

Although bee populations have so far been established in only 25 of the 50 the yellow beehives of Adane Mekonnen and his associates, the young people are working feverishly to fill the remaining boxes with life – and animal labour.

About 60 kilos of honey per beehive

“We reckon on about 60 kilos of honey per year from each beehive,” says Adane. With 50 hives, that comes to about 3,000 kilos in total. In Ethiopia one kilo of this high-grade honey fetches prices of up to 100 birr, equivalent to about 4 euros. But the fledgling beekeeper cooperative does not sell its honey to large companies. Its customer is another group founded by Menschen für Menschen that purifies the honey. The purified honey is subsequently passed on to a further cooperative that fills it into jars, which it then labels and packs. Finally, a fourth group of young people conveys the product to the market and wholesalers in the region, including the capital Addis Ababa. The value-added chain thus established provides work for about 60 young people. “The money we earn in this way gives us security,” says Adane. But not only that: “The work has given us back our pride and hope.”

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