Agricultural Commercialization Clusters
By design, the Deliverables and Sub-deliverables in the four primary pillars of the Transformation Agenda aim to address systemic issues that affect smallholder farmers and the agriculture sector across the entire country. In GTP II, a new “Anchor Initiative” known as the Agricultural Commercialization Clusters (ACC) has been introduced to integrate the systemic solutions in the four main pillars of the Transformation Agenda within specific high-potential geographies and strategic commodities.
This is not Ethiopia’s first attempt at geographically-based initiatives that aim to integrate interventions within the agriculture sector into broader economic plans. Previous efforts such as the Economic Growth Corridors initiative have had strong conceptual grounding but have faced challenges in implementation. However, geographically-focused approaches (also known as economic zones, free trade zones or agricultural growth corridors) have been used successfully in Latin American, Asian, and other African countries to drive agricultural transformation and rural industrialization and, consequently, economic growth.
Brazil, Chile, and Mexico, for example, each successfully developed clusters for fruit production, which now account for nearly half of the national fruit production in each country. India has also had success with agricultural clusters and integrated agro-food parks. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have seen the results of economic zones concentrated around agro-processing activity: Kenya’s clusters have increased the production and market value of green beans and avocados, while in Nigeria agro-processing zones have focused on nationally-prioritized staple crops.
The selected commodities and details of execution may differ across countries, but the foremost goals of establishing clusters in all cases have been to commercially integrate smallholder farmers into market-based domestic and international supply chains, increase foreign direct investment, promote exports, and improve the flow of capital by connecting the local agriculture sector with the global food system.
Similarly, Ethiopia’s vision for ACCs is to bring about rapid, sustainable and inclusive development of priority agricultural commodity value chains through a geographically-focused approach that provides a strategic and commercially-viable platform for the implementation of multiple, priority interventions for agricultural transformation-led growth and rural transformation.
Drawing upon international best practice, as well as lessons from its own past, Ethiopia has designed the ACC Initiative to commercialize smallholder agriculture through an inclusive and environmentally sustainable approach that significantly contributes to increased incomes for smallholder farmers, improved access to domestic and international markets, increased agro-processing and value addition, and creation of off-farm employment opportunities.
The ACC Initiative is ultimately a nation-wide approach to integrating agriculture, agro-processing, and industry in a geographically tailored way. The roll-out of the concept, however, will be sequenced in order to test and refine the approach before scaling up. As such, the initial implementation of the ACC Initiative is focused on 26 clusters in the four regions of the country with the largest concentration of agricultural production.These first wave of clusters (designed for optimal size to encompass 5-15 woredas each and reaching an estimated 3.5 million farmers in total) were selected based on their production potential, natural resource potential, access to market, and presence of the private sector around priority commodities.
During the initial phase of GTP II, ten major commodities have been prioritized within these 26 clusters, though each cluster will prioritize two to three primary commodities while highlighting rotation crops (typically legumes) important for soil health and human nutrition, as well as other livestock products to accommodate the crop-livestock mixed farming system prevalent in Ethiopia’s highlands. Strategies for seven of these commodities – wheat, maize, tef, malt barley, sesame, haricot bean, and honey – have been developed, with three additional commodities – beef, dairy, and horticulture – slated for development in 2009 EC.
Beyond the initial wave of 26 clusters, the MoANR and MoLF are engaging with their relevant regional partners to implement the cluster concept nationally. Similar to the approach on other Transformation Agenda Deliverables, the ATA is expected to lead in piloting this concept in the initial ten commodities and 26 clusters, whereas the MoANR and MoLF will be responsible for scaling up the concept across the country. For 2009 EC, the ATA has begun intensive work on the seven commodities for which strategies have been developed, focusing on an initial 14 clusters.
During the initial stages of GTP II, the ATA’s support for these clusters and commodities will entail two primary areas: increasing crop production and productivity and enhancing market linkages, through a three-pronged approach comprising innovation, testing and validation (ITV), full package demonstrations, and scale-up support to farmers. Scale-up of the full package entails encouraging farmers to use a complete set of recommended inputs and farming practices (improved seed, appropriate fertilizer, agro-chemicals, and other best practices) while ITV aims to test and validate new technologies for efficient and effective farming with the research and extension system.
As a concept integrated into GTP II, the ACC Initiative is incorporated into the second AGP, as well as the IAIPs and Livestock Master Plan. It provides a mechanism for aligning various donor and government interventions and engaging smallholder farmers in a coordinated manner. It also provides smallholder farmers with a structured mechanism to integrate their input, needs and aspirations into the planning process.
The following links detail the progress made in introducing the ACC Initiative in the initial wave of clusters that are part of the ATA-supported pilots in the initial years of GTP II.