October Newsletter

An overview of the main initiatives as we move into the upcoming year.

Dear readers,

The Gregorian calendar states that we are reaching the end of 2023, however, we have only just entered 2016 according to the Ethiopian calendar. New beginnings provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our projects and share our highlights, updates, and newcomers as we embark upon the new year ahead.

After five years in Bishoftu, we are fortunate to have established a solid partnership with the Bishoftu Polytechnical College (BPC). The large garden is a tangible result of our first project and serves now as a source of income for the college on the one hand and as a formidable demonstration site for organic horticulture on the other (see chapter on the open day below).

Our second project focuses on holistic support for our graduates from BPC who are now facing the day-to-day challenges encountered in professional life. The chapter on World Organic Day, below provides a snapshot of this reality.

Professional vocational training is at the core of our mission. The certificate received on completing three years of BPC training is an important milestone for a young person. While currently accompanying the young professionals, we have become aware that this initial training is necessary and important, but by far not sufficient to face all the unfolding issues that require suitable and timely solutions. That is why we have been organising tailor-made coaching to develop administrative and organisational skills. In addition, we have appointed Ines Bächinger, an agronomist, to write a Handbook for organic farming in Ethiopia.

This is context-specific, taking their available resources into careful consideration. The chapter on biopesticides and biofertilizers below gives you an insight into this project. More details on the launch of the handbook will follow later this year.


The GFF team

The Open day and garden visit for customers and partners

Vegetables grown in the Bishoftu Polytechnical College garden (BPC) are grown organically and most of the production is sold through weekly baskets. Every week, customers enjoy a variety of organic, fresh and local produce. Ethiopia’s climate being so generous, enables us to grow a variety of nutritious and healthy herbs and vegetables all year round. A weekly basket is usually composed of nine organic and delicious vegetables including Swiss chard, leek, parsley, lettuce, carrot, cauliflower, Habesha cabbage, beetroot, aubergine, okra, spinach, chilli pepper. The orders are managed by the Green Flower Foundation’s Farm Coordinator and BPC.

In April 2023, we organised an open day at BPC, to get acquainted with our customers and give them an opportunity see where their weekly vegetables are grown.

It was also an opportunity for government agencies (Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, Ethiopia-Netherlands Seed Partnership) and partners to join us for the day (CARITAS, Stichting Wageningen Research Ethiopia, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Ethiopia), restaurants and patisseries based in Addis.

The day was filled with fun activities: families and other participants planted aubergine seedlings, celery, green and red lettuce, tasted a delicious meal made by a local chef with the garden’s organic vegetables (onions, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, celery, rosemary, parsley, chill pepper, etc.). Participants took seeds home to plant in their gardens (Chinese leaves, green and red lettuce, aubergine, onions, chilli pepper, and tomatoes). The BPC and Green Flower Foundation teams worked hand in hand to make this day a success.

If you’re based in Addis and would like to know more about the weekly delivery scheme of organic vegetables, please contact us!   

Participants getting soil ready for replanting of seedlings
Participants getting ready to plant organic seedlings.

World Organic Day in Bishoftu

The European Organic Day is the ideal opportunity to widely celebrate the organic sector and evaluate Europe’s progress towards achieving its goal of 25% organic land by 2030.

This year, GFF and BPC celebrated World Organic Day to promote organic farming in Ethiopia.

It aims to recognise the role organic farming plays in providing healthy food and preserving the environment while highlighting the need for visibility for organic farmers and encouraging everyone to support them.

The GFF programme in Ethiopia supports vocational training, organic farming, and entrepreneurship. At GFF, we encourage our young entrepreneurs to set up their businesses in organic farming. We follow all the principles of organic agriculture which is why it was important for us to celebrate Organic Day in Ethiopia on 22 September, and create awareness on organic agriculture with partners and local communities.

GFF young entrepreneurs (farmers and shop keepers) on World Organic Day

The event was facilitated with brio by Adem Garisa, the GFF in-country representative.

Debela Tesfa, the BPC Dean, gave an inspiring keynote speech.

Ines, our Scientific Coordinator presented her handbook which is a simplified textbook on organic farming, in the form of a field book. It was very well received amongst partners, who were impressed with the quality of research and the work put into this project.

Three hub members gave a speech: Samuel, Ananya and Gelano. They talked about the importance of organic farming, explained the challenges they have been facing – mostly access to land and connections with potential markets – and acknowledged the support they have been receiving from GFF all along. All three shared their personal stories and showed resilience, courage, focus, maturity and determination to succeed despite the hurdles.

"Despite all the challenges, we have never given up. We are continually learning from our failures"
Small holder farmer

While the main focus of our programme is on providing vocational training on organic farming and enhancing entrepreneurship, we see that our impact has a socio-economic aspect and is about improving the living conditions and prospects of the young people we support. None of this would be possible without the support of our donors who we would like to sincerely thank.

The session ended with a presentation of biofertilizers and biopesticides and a visit of the garden with partners.

Training on biopesticides and biofertilizers

In September 2023, we organised a training workshop on biopesticides and biofertilizers, led by Esrom, our Farm Coordinator. It was an opportunity for our group of smallholder farmers to learn new practices and how to easily produce their own organic pesticides. The recipes we taught them are cost-efficient and easy to make, and they work.

Here are two examples of recipes that were taught during the workshop:

Wood ash is a biopesticide that can be used to protect against aphids, cutworms, armyworms, snails, slugs, etc. Easy to make – you need wood ash, soap (or expired milk) and water. You can dust wood ash on leaves, spread the ash on the soil, or you can spray wood ash liquid on plants and soil.

Apich, also known as Ginger-Garlic-Chili-Onion extract is a biopesticide that acts as an insect repellant (aphids, whiteflies, mites, caterpillars, cutworms, thrips, etc.) and fungal infections (powdery mildew).

All ingredients must be ground (garlic, chili, onion, ginger, molasses, and vinegar) and added to water; mix; let macerate and filter. Spray the solution wherever needed, as a preventive measure or when there is an outbreak.

These two recipes feature in GFF’s handbook on organic farming where you will find more detailed instructions.

Staff Updates

Since February 2023, Ines Bächinger, Agronomist and Scientific Coordinator has been supporting the team on technical aspects. She brings her scientific knowledge and experience as an agronomist in Kenya and Switzerland, and she is an incredibly valuable member of the team thanks to her dual heritage and capacity in understanding both cultures (Ethiopia and Switzerland). Her mother tongue is Amharic, and she speaks fluent French and English. She is based in Geneva and since she joined, she has been travelling to Ethiopia on a regular basis, to provide technical support, while working on a handbook on organic farming that will be released shortly. Stay tuned!

In June 2023, Kidane Adane joined the Green Flower Foundation as Accountant (based in Bishoftu). Kidane brings more than 25 years of experience as an accountant, finance and administration head in different organisations. He’s registered with the Accounting and Auditing Board of Ethiopia.

In September 2023, Adeline Provent joined as Head of Projects and Operations with more than 20 years of professional experience, including 15 years working on nutrition programmes at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). There, she worked with country office teams (Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tanzania), and managed a procurement platform to help food producers, governments and food agencies source the vitamins and minerals they need to fortify staple foods such as edible oil, flour and salt. Previously she worked in international sales for multinational companies where she gained experience in supply-chain management. Adeline brings her knowledge and experience in programme management and is passionate about agroecology and sustainability.

Find out more about our team on our webpage.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct is a solemn and good faith commitment each of us makes to uphold these values at the Green Flower Foundation, at all times, no matter the relationship, and whether or not our actions are visible to others.

The Code of Conduct applies to our GFF smallholder entrepreneurs and staff.

Happy New Year!

On 12th September 2023, Ethiopians celebrated Enkutatash እንቁጣጣሽ/የዘመን መለወጫ/አዲስ አመት, Ayaana Bara Haaraa. Enkutatash is an annual holiday in September for the Ethiopian New Year and it occurs on Meskerem 1 on the Ethiopian calendar. Adey Abeba flowers are in bloom at that time of year – they are a symbol of luck and blessing for the upcoming year.

This time of year, is also the end of the rainy season and a new season for farmers to work on their land. Although Ethiopia’s generous climate offers perfect conditions to grow vegetables all year round, the new year can be seen as a new beginning, including our young farmers, who started a new cropping season, planting onions, garlic, cabbage, beetroot, Swiss chard, and many more.

The new year was an opportunity for us to introduce weekly discussions with our young entrepreneurs, to share and enhance knowledge and experience. After a few weeks, we have noticed the group getting closer and stronger, with new alliances and a growing team spirit amongst them all.

Despite daily challenges, they remain hopeful and focused, with the support of the GFF team.

Adey Abeba flowers near Bishoftu – September 2023
Adem, GFF In-country Representative helping Shifera, Alemayehu and Samuel removing weeds from their garlic plot – September 2023
Rata, Samuel, Alemayehu, Damte and Shifera planting onions as a team – October 2023

Thank You

We would like to warmly thank our donors, Board members, partners, staff, consultants, customers, community members, friends, everyone who has paid an interest in our activities and supported us. Thank you.

Photo credits: Green Flower Foundation

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