Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Anti-Corruption squashes Et Fruit’s orange bid

The Et Fruit Enterprise (Et) hopes to distribute oranges for the state owned Upper Awash Agro Industries farm have been squeezed out after a negative evaluation from the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission.
This decision was taken by the commission after Segel General Trading, a private company that participated in the bidding appealed to the commission having allegedly offered a higher price than Et, the state’s agricultural products distributer.
According to sources, the Commission has recommended for Segel to be given the rights for distribution. This is the second time they have won a fruit distribution bid.
Seifu W/Michael, general director of Segel, told Capital that he was delighted by the Commission’s fair decision. Now Segel will dispense 12 different orange varieties produced at Upper Awash, the largest orange producer in the country. The deal is good for one year. 
Four years ago Upper Awash had directly supplied its product for the other state owned agricultural product supplier, Et Fruit, on consignment until the Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervisory Agency (PPESA), a governmental body that has the mandate to control public enterprises, decided that the oranges be distributed through a bid process rather than sell the product through Et Fruit.
On the bid that was held a month ago, Segel offered over 144 million birr for an undisclosed quantity of oranges, while the offer of the state owned enterprise was 136 million birr. The Upper Awash board chaired by Beyene G/ Meskel, director general of PPESA, still decided that Et should get the orange distribution job at the same price Segel offered. Beyene is also board chairman of Et Fruit.
“That is the main reason why my company decided to appeal the case to the Commission because the board did not undertake the bid process fairly,” Seifu said.
Due to the new bargain, Et and other private companies have been able to participate on the bid for the distribution of oranges for the local and foreign market. At the first bid held five years ago Segel had won the right of distribution for one year. But after that the state owned fruit trader has won the last three bids with higher price offer, while Segel and a few other private companies continued taking part in the bids but did not win. 
At the bidding held a year ago Et owned the rights at the cost of 100 million birr and Segel was the second biggest competitor at the time. The bids have been increasing every year even though the amount of the product available has not.
In related news there has been a spike in the price. In the past few weeks, the price of oranges have risen 85 percent at local fruit and vegetable shops in Addis Ababa. Surveys at shops indicate the price of a kilogram of orange, which appear to have reduced in quality is around 20 birr, while it was below 12 birr few weeks ago. According to experts who work at Et, the price hike does not have any relationship with the bid disagreement.
Upper Awash’s orange production has actually decreased. Partly because of this downturn, PPESA privatized Tibila Farm, part of Upper Awash, to a Dutch firm, Africa Juice, which invested in passion fruit cultivation three years ago with an investment cost of 900 million birr.
Currently, Et distributes fruit and vegetables and seeds and spices to the local and international market. The enterprise was established 32 years ago and also sells other products at its shops, such as sugar.