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Twenty Ethiopian entrepreneurs in the sesame, dairy and honey sectors came together for the first Ethiopian Agribusiness Investment Forum, a presentation intended to entice investors to their business at the Sheraton Hotel on January 16, 2014.
The program, funded by USAID through its Ethiopia Sustainable Agribusiness Incubator activity, was implemented by Precise Consult International as part of the U.S. feed the future initiative.
The investment requirements of the companies vary from USD 10,666 for B Honey, a company that produces pure and infused honey to USD 791,263 for Select Honey and Products Inc which makes honey and honey by-products. The twenty companies have average sales ranging from USD 33,627 to USD 2.4 million.
“There are scientists, entrepreneurs, financers…in short all the relevant stakeholders in the value chain of agri-business here,” said Fitsum Arega, Director General of the Ethiopian Investment Agency. “Ethiopia has a lot of natural resources. We just need the technical expertise and financing,”
He continued to say that the agency is interested in strategic investments, especially those in agro-processing and cotton farming.
The agency’s interests seem to be aligned with that of the U.S. Feed the Future Initiative which plans on transforming the Ethiopian agriculture industry by increasing the competitiveness of the entire value chain.
“Investment in agriculture is 2.5 to 3.0 times more effective in increasing the income of the poor than nonagricultural investment,” said Gary Linden, Deputy Mission Director of USAID.
Agricultural development is given precedence in the Agricultural Growth Program (AGP) of the Ethiopian government, he further elaborated.  Therefore in the next five years, USAID will invest USD 250 million in support of the AGP.
State Minister of Agriculture, Mitiku Kasa, who opened the event, said that the Ministry of Agriculture has been making a concerted effort to develop every type of commercial agriculture by private investors. This is why selected sectors that are labor intensive and use domestic raw materials like those in the agro-industry get special access to credit, land and tax incentives.
“The current development plan of Ethiopia, the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) envisages continued and rapid growth of agriculture with an even faster growing industrial sector,” said Mitiku. “When we speak of industrialization we envision it to take place on the back of  strong agriculture.”
Ethiopia is the fourth largest sesame and beeswax exporter in the world. It is also the 10th largest exporter of honey in the world and the largest exporter of livestock in Africa.
Ethiopia has a milk consumption of 24 liters per year for every person. The rise of income, population growth, increasing availability of production and a growing culture of milk drinking were said to be positive indicators of the dairy industry’s growth.