Bogale Borena set up an avocado nursery in Yirgalem in southern Ethiopia and has been so successful in the venture that he was named one of 17 Food heroes by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
Food Heroes is recognized for its commitment to providing food to its communities and beyond.
He spoke with the UN before World Food Day, is marked annually on October 16.
My name is Bogale Borena and I am a 50-year-old father of six. I have recently set up an avocado nursery with the capacity to produce 40,000 grafted seedlings, which I can sell to some of the 300,000 avocado farmers who grow the crop in the Sidama and SNNPR regions of Ethiopia. I now employ 14 young people in the nursery.
I was motivated to grow avocados when a new avocado oil processing plant was established within the Integrated Agro Industries Park (IAIP) near my village.
The park employs 490 locals and is the first park of its kind in my region. It works closely with smallholder farmers to ensure adequate access to avocados.
National Food and Agriculture Administration (FAO) provided technical assistance with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture with a view to developing a value chain system, which includes improved productivity and quality of commercial avocado varieties.
It also promotes sustainable farming practices for local smallholders.
Through careful handling of avocado nurseries, use of grafting tools and polyethylene bags, I have increased production from 15,000 plants in 2020 to 40,000 in 2021.
It takes less than a year to grow and sell plants, and about three to four years for the plants to bear fruit, so the pay for me has been immediate.
I originally sold seedlings locally for 50 birr ($ 1) per piece. My expected annual income is now 2 million bir (about $ 44,000). Next year, 2022, I intend to more than double my production to 100,000 plants.
By growing grafted avocado seedlings, I have increased my income and changed my family’s life.
As a result, I can plan to improve my house, buy a truck to transport fruit and other agricultural items, and establish a flour mill in my village. This will serve the local community and create jobs for local youth.
I think my nursery is a good example of how inclusive agricultural value chains can increase youth work and farmers’ incomes and help eradicate poverty ”.