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EthioPEA Alliance Announced: Government of Ethiopia, USAID, WFP and PepsiCo Launch Alliance for Nutrition and Agriculture Production

EthioPEA Alliance

(L-R) Thomas H. Staal, Khalid Bomba, Wondirad Mandefro, Donald Booth, Zein Abdalla, and Abdou Dieng

MAY 22, 2012, Addis Ababa:  During the Grow Africa Investment Forum in Addis Ababa on May 9, 2012, the Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE) Ministries of Health and Agriculture and Agriculture Transformation Agency, PepsiCo, Inc., the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the UN World Food Program (WFP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support a new EthioPEA Alliance.  This public-private collaboration will seek to expand Ethiopia’s potential to be an international source of chickpeas for export while increasing the availability of nutritious food domestically.

The EthioPEA Alliance will decrease barriers to increasing the production, domestic use, and export of chickpea in Ethiopia.  It will seek to foster economic growth and improve the availability and affordability of nutritious, locally sourced food products, including chickpea-based ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF), for low-income populations as well as others in Ethiopia and in export markets.  The State Minister of Agriculture, Wondirad Mandefro, said that “Ethiopia is uniquely suited to launch such an initiative.  It is already the continent's largest producer of chickpeas and the sixth largest producer in the world.”

USAID will contribute a total of US$7 million to support both the commercial and nutrition objectives of the Alliance, providing technical, financial and training assistance.  According to Thomas Staal, USAID/Ethiopia Mission Director, “This alliance is an important part of the US Government’s Feed-The-Future (FTF) Initiative in Ethiopia.  It furthers FTF’s goals to both increase agriculture output and improve the nutrition status of women and children, in part, through the resources and expertise of the private sector.”  Feed-The-Future is a US$3 billion global initiative supported by President Obama which involves the planned investment of more than US$250 million in Ethiopia’s agriculture and nutrition programs over the next five years.

PepsiCo’s work in Ethiopia began with the MOU signed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last January 2011 between PepsiCo, WFP, and USAID to collaborate on food security and nutrition globally.  At that time, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi proposed such an Alliance to make Ethiopia the first country to put the global MOU into action.  The PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, has provided a grant of approximately $3.3 million to WFP USA, an independent charity entity in the United States, in support of WFP’s operations in Ethiopia, as well as approximately $200,000 to Valid Nutrition, a manufacturer of highly fortified nutritional pastes, to develop a chickpea-based RUSF.  PepsiCo is also conducting agriculture pilots and a business case analysis for increasing chickpea productivity.  “PepsiCo is dedicated to seeking innovative ways to improve nutrition and environmental sustainability around the world.  We are pleased to be part of such an important collaboration” said Derek Yach, Senior Vice President of Global Health and Agriculture Policy, PepsiCo. 

According to Khalid Bomba, CEO of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, “Ethiopia believes innovative partnerships with global agri-businesses such as PepsiCo can unlock markets for smallholder farmers and make them part of a global supply chain, and therefore welcomes this project as a positive step in developing agricultural capacity.”

WFP expects to use the chickpea-based supplementary food product in its nutrition work in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.  It will support farmers’ cooperatives and food processors to develop the product and maintain high quality production standards.  "WFP is very proud to be part of this innovative cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia, USAID and PepsiCo," announced WFP Ethiopia Country Director, Abdou Dieng.  "This future nutrition product will help us to advance the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Ethiopia." 

The Government of Ethiopia will support the Alliance through policy and research as the project directly supports the country’s development goals.  In a statement, the Minister of Health said “We believe this new Alliance offers potential to support the Government’s National Growth and Transformation Plan and Nutrition Strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for halving poverty and hunger by 2015.”