Next time you feel like some cactus pear marmalade from Ethiopia but can’t make it to the town of Mekelle, check out the shelves of Italian gourmet food store Eataly.
Thanks to a partnership between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Eataly to support family farmers around the globe, a cooperative of women in Ethiopia are now ready to ship their 4,000 jars of jam to Rome, where they will soon reach the shelves.
“The success story in Ethiopia illustrates what FAO is aiming to do on the ground: empowering women farmers to generate extra income and improve their livelihoods,” the agency said in a press release.
“The result: better food and nutrition, stronger local economies, and small businesses that will be able to thrive on their own once FAO’s intervention ends,” it adds.
FAO reported that for a few years Tsega Gebrekidan Aregawi ran a small kiosk in the northern Ethiopian town of Mekelle, where local university students would stop by to purchase fresh fruit juice, biscuits and homemade marmalades on their way to and from class.
“At that time, Tsega could hardly imagine that some of her own products might someday fly from Africa to reach international markets,” FAO said. “But things changed last year when FAO and the Italian food chain Eataly reached out to her and her five-woman cooperative with a challenging offer.”
Tsega and her colleagues were offered support in producing more cactus pear marmalade, which would be then bought and shipped to European tables.
“The group rose to the challenge,” according to FAO. “So far, they’ve produced 4,000 jars of marmalade and are now looking at using the revenues to even expanding their output and the variety of what they produce.”
Each jar will be bought at 3.50 EUR, a price FAO said is considered in line with local market standards and which covers production costs and guarantees significant revenues for its members.
“Our lives have changed since we started in this endeavor,” Tsega said.
“These are the kind of results we expect from agriculture,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, congratulating them on their success. “Family farming and small scale producers have a lot to offer – to their local communities, and on international markets. Their potential is large; they just need the right kind of support to unlock it,” he added.
The partnership between FAO and Eataly is also providing support to other small producers in other countries, helping them to find new markets, improve value addition, and get better prices for their goods.
The teamwork with Eataly is an example of FAO’s focus on partnerships. Since 2013, the Organization says it has signed over 60 agreements with a wide range of different stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations, cooperatives and academia.