Organic sesame and avocado oil

Project description

Title: Establishment of a value chain for sesame and avocado oil
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ethiopia
Partner: Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V.
Overall term: 2018 to 2021


Ethiopia has traditionally been a country of agriculture and livestock breeding; around 85 per cent of the population works in this sector. The Ethiopian Government is pressing ahead with the cultivation of rural areas so as to be able to feed the growing population and bring foreign currency into the country through exports.

The south-west region of Ethiopia is one of the five biggest producers of avocados in sub-Saharan Africa. Avocados are cultivated mainly as an integral component of coffee farmland and agroforestry systems. However, the avocado sector in Ethiopia is still in its infancy and its great potential has by no means been harnessed to the full. To date, most avocados have been exported in unprocessed form which means that they do not generate any added value locally within the country.

Sesame is Ethiopia’s second most important export product after coffee. The country is the second largest exporter of sesame in the world behind India. Ethiopia has excellent cultivation conditions, which means that high-quality raw materials are available for the organic market. However, insufficient knowledge regarding cultivation, harvesting and processing leads to harvest losses of around 13 per cent. 95 per cent of sesame is exported in unprocessed form. As a result, the country loses out on a lot of added value. Ethiopian producers often do not have access to premium markets as a consequence of high international standards and food quality requirements. This means that they miss out on higher incomes. There are currently only five small or medium-sized companies that process sesame in Ethiopia.


There is local value creation with a market-oriented, diversified and competitive avocado and sesame sector.


In cooperation with Ethiopian partner companies, GIZ is expanding the existing value chains for sesame and setting up new value chains for avocados: from cultivation and processing, right through to the export of products.

In this context, the partners are providing small-scale farmers from cooperatives with training in sustainable harvesting and cultivation methods for avocados. They are educating trainers who themselves will provide training over the course of the project to 600 small-scale farmers– so-called lead farmers – and to 80 workers at avocado collection points. Subsequently, the 600 lead farmers will provide training to farmers from their cooperatives. The aim of the measure is to reach up to 30,000 small-scale farmers. In addition, the small-scale farmers are given harvesting equipment, climbing and safety equipment for climbing avocado trees, which can be up to 25 metres high, and transport and storage materials. This ‘Farmer Business School’ approach teaches small-scale farmers entrepreneurial skills in areas such as financial and farm management and food security.

Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V. (Tradin) is a partner of GIZ. In 2007, the company set up Selet Hulling, a joint venture with Kaleb Service Farmers House. This Ethiopian enterprise supplies high-quality hulled organic sesame for export. To increase value added, the company is establishing a local infrastructure for avocado and sesame oil production. To this end, Tradin has rented a factory building and is purchasing the necessary equipment. The factory will employ around 60 new workers who will acquire the necessary skills in training courses. The partners are also training specialist staff such as factory managers, machine technicians and quality assurance personnel. The partners are cooperating with a vocational training institute and supporting the practical training of industrial mechanics and machine builders in the factory.

Waste from avocado oil production can also be used. With this in mind, GIZ, Tradin and Selet Hulling are evaluating a composting system for avocado waste. Tests are also being carried out to see how the pressed pulp, stones and skin from avocados can be re-used and marketed.

To ensure that the cooperatives’ products can be sold worldwide, the partners assist them with organic and social certification and with concluding fair purchase agreements. In addition, GIZ and its partners help small-scale farmers to broaden their income base. For example, selected smallholders are trained as beekeepers and given the necessary equipment to collect honey and beeswax. These products can be sold on the local market and, potentially, to Tradin for the international market.

Since Ethiopia wishes to place production and value creation from avocados on a sound footing, the partners work with local institutes on research into and the introduction of improved varieties of avocado as well as on suitable production and harvesting techniques, and are setting up avocado tree nurseries. The partners use conferences and other events to present their experience as well as examples of best practice to government representatives and vocational training and research institutes.