Continuing a “Bright Future in Agriculture” to enhance food security and employability in Ethiopia
On March 7th and 8th 2023, the Bright Future in Agriculture (BFA) Conference took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference was the closing event for the BFA project and was attended by project stakeholders, beneficiaries, lead partners, embassies, development sectors, and government institutions. The 2-day closing conference covered discussion points mainly aimed to foster sustainability beyond the project cycle, and stimulate upscaling to other stakeholders.
7th March 2023
The conference began with a warm welcoming speech given by Dr. Huub Mudde, BFA Project Director, after which the floor was given to the keynote speakers; HE Mr. Nigusu Tilahun, State Minister, Ministry of Labor and Skills (MoLS) and HE Mr. Henk Jan Bakker, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In his keynote speech, the State Minister addressed that the BFA project is in line with the priorities of Ethiopia: “The Bright Future in Agriculture (BFA) project aims at improving the agriculture sector which aligns with the transformation plan of Ethiopia. Currently, there is an ongoing plan to reposition the sector as a national priority and the BFA project has been very much in line with prioritized policymaking, by that, contributing to the success of the project in general.” He then concluded his speech by stressing the importance of sustaining and institutionalizing the project’s achievements beyond BFA’s lifecycle.
Following that, HE Mr. Henk Jan Bakker, the ambassador of the kingdom of the Netherlands recognized the contribution of the BFA project in his speech: “On behalf of our embassy, I would like to recognize contributions of Bright Future in Agriculture; 1) in building leadership capacities of agricultural TVETs, 2) improving practical skills that are thought in ATVETS, 3) building capacities of ATVET teachers, 4) promoting linkages between the private sector and ATVETS, 5) Providing practical learning opportunities (Internships) for ATVET graduates”. He concluded by appreciating the effort of Maastricht School of Management and the Ministry of Labor and Skills in ensuring smooth implementation of the program and hopes that products of the program will continue in improving the quality of skills taught in ATVETS.
Dr. Solomon Mogus, BFA Project Coordinator, together with Prof. Yisehak Kechero, BFA South Project Manager, presented the project’s main achievements through the past 4 years (2019-2023). The achievements were presented in four categories; 1) Capacitating the ATVET colleges, 2) Networking and Linkages, 3) Enhancing Entrepreneurship, and 4) Studies throughout the project. Firstly, the ATVET colleges have been capacitated in essential technical skill training material development, provision of facilities and equipment to enhance training capacity of the colleges, instructor trainings in technical skills and teaching methodology, other trainings including soft skills, and long-term scholarships. Secondly, through networking and linkages, a focus was put on the internship and apprenticeship programs and the Triple Helix Platforms and their interventions. The internship and apprenticeship programs provided an opportunity for knowledge-sharing and collaborative problem-solving platforms. Additionally, long-lasting relations between the colleges and the industry were created, while there was also a positive shift in the mindset of employers towards TVET graduates thanks to these programs. Furthermore, the Bahir Dar Triple Helix Platform designed and developed a micro dairy package locally. Also, the Arba Minch Platform designed and developed two fruit harvesting tools, which were also distributed to farmers. Moreover, the Bako Platform constructed a greenhouse for seedling. Thirdly, entrepreneurship has been enhanced. Generally, there has been a policy brief, a policy dialogue, and capacity building of teachers in entrepreneurship. Furthermore, there are guidelines for promoting entrepreneurship for colleges. Finally, the general accomplishment of the numerous studies (e.g. policy briefs) conducted throughout the project were emphasized. Specifically, through the studies, the project was able to implement interventions using informed decisions besides the inputs to policy dialogue. The aforementioned main achievements positively contributed to the purpose of the project, which was to enhance food security and employability.
Following the presentation on the main achievements, Mr. Ayalu Admass, National Project Coordinator-Employment and skills ProAgro-Promotion of decent work in the agribusiness project from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), also shared the results of a study conducted by the ILO on the role of Sector Skill Council (SSC) in responding to labour market needs. He emphasized that the study was aimed at identifying existing skills, shortages and surpluses and recommended effective reskilling and upskilling measures. The results indicated that the establishment of the SSC is necessary for a country like Ethiopia with a large number of job seekers. In line with this, there is an effort made to establish SSC in Ethiopia with the support of ILO.
Dr. Andent Bayelegn, Deputy Project Manager SNV HortiLIFE, shared that the organization supports TVETs through the use of the Farmers Field School extension approach to be more practice-oriented. This approach integrates Woredas, agricultural and horticultural experts, ATVETs, and Universities in the field for practical lessons. The organisation provides practical facilities and supplies materials. In the end, Dr. Andent shared the findings of the project, which showed that several students have improved their practical skills and are familiarized with new technologies. Moreover, the experience of the project was used by the MoLs for policy development.
After the presentations, a panel discussion on the topic of “Business perspective; Market-oriented Technical and Vocational Education and Training” was held. Mr. Yared Sertse, moderator of the panel discussion, invited three panellists to the stage to share their experience on the topic.
Dr. Nigest Haile, Founder, and executive director of CAWEE clearly stated that there are gender-based barriers for female graduates. She pointed out that socialization is one of the main issues as she argued that women are mainly viewed as responsible for taking care of the household chores. Consequently, this prevents women from building networks. Furthermore, the increase in migration to urban areas has made the labour market even more saturated, leading to even fewer job opportunities for women.
Mrs. Rahel Heruy stated that she handles spices and herbs with her company for which she has to work in a widespread area. Therefore, there is a large need for extension workers within her business. However, students do not receive any specialization or practical training during their time in college. Consequently, an issue she faces is that there is a constant need to train those fresh graduates. Nevertheless, they are very essential within the business and of great value once they have received training. She suggested that the private sector engages with ATVET colleges to share experiences, as knowledge centres need to break their boundaries in order to share practical skills and connect with universities and research centres. Moreover, Mr. Gaddisa Gobena, owner of Gaddisa Farm, highlighted the importance of practical teaching and learning in order for the agriculture sector to thrive.
Afterwards, interactive breakout sessions were held on three themes; 1) towards more practical-oriented, 2) Stimulating entrepreneurship, and 3) Improving TVET-Industry relations. Under each theme, presenters shared the achievements and lessons learned with the participants, which was followed by group work to discuss what could be done for a scale-up beyond the project. This brought different ideas on how to achieve the dissemination of what has already been done through the project.
8th March 2023
The second day was opened by Dr. Konjit Hailu, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Maastricht University and Assistant Professor, Addis Ababa University. She presented on “The Role of Women in Education” in the name of International Women’s day. Dr. Konjit highlighted the underrepresentation of women and the limitation of the resources to capacitate women. She concluded her presentation by opening the stage to what could be done to empower and give roles to women beyond the expected normative (societal) role(s).
Continued breakout sessions
During the breakout session of the second day, the participants discussed the three themes presented on the first day but from a sustainability perceptive. The discussions were mainly on bringing strategies for sustainability of the results of the project. Various ideas such as forming committees, agreements, creating big networks, and developing conceptual frameworks were mentioned.
Wrapping up the conference
As the BFA Project Director, Dr. Huub Mudde made a closing speech: “It is now in the hands of Ethiopian organisations and people to continue the good work. The only thing needed is the willingness to act. Nothing stops you from picking up the phone, writing a letter, or simply reaching out to one another.”
To access the final conference report click here or for the latest BFA news letter, click here.
About Bright Future in Agriculture
Bright Future in Agriculture is a four-year project that supports the Ethiopian agricultural technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector. The project is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and is managed by Nuffic as part of the Orange Knowledge Programme. There are in total 12 beneficiary institutions in Ethiopia out of which the Federal TVET Institute and Arba Minch University are the lead partners. Maastricht School of Management from the Netherlands is the lead implementer and together with 8 consortium member institutions from the Netherlands, Ethiopia and South Africa partake as providers.
Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.
MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies
This institutional collaboration project is part of MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets. We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.
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