Heifer International Partners with Ethiopia Government to Harness Agri-tech, Empower Youth

By Heifer International

June 26, 2023

ADDIS ABABA, June 26, 2023 — Heifer International announced that it has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Irrigation and Lowlands, strengthening Heifer’s partnership with the Government to transform the country’s agricultural sector, improve incomes of smallholder farmers and pastoralists, and enhance food security.

The MOU signing ceremonies took place June 26-27 and were attended by Engineer Aisha Mohammed Musa, Minister of Irrigation and Lowlands; Dr Fikru Regassa, State Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture; and Surita Sandosham, President and CEO of Heifer International.

The MOUs will facilitate the identification and implementation of agri-tech innovations that address challenges faced by smallholder farmers and pastoralists in Ethiopia. This initiative aims to improve production, income, access to finance, and resilience for smallholder farmers and pastoralists, mobilize broad-based youth engagement in sustainable and profitable agricultural practices, and foster the emergence of a new generation of agri-entrpreneurs in Ethiopia.

The MOU signings happened in parallel with the Agriculture, Youth and Technology (AYuTe) Africa Challenge Ethiopia final pitching and award ceremony, held at the Inter Luxury Hotel in Addis Ababa. The AYuTe Africa Challenge Ethiopia, an initiative of Heifer International, is an agri-tech innovation competition for Ethiopian youth. Its objective is to identify and award young start-ups and innovators who can make transformative contributions using new technology to help smallholder farmers and pastoralists in Ethiopia. The first, second and third place winners of AYuTe Africa Challenge Ethiopia were awarded cash prizes of USD 10,000, USD 6,500, and USD 3,500, respectively.

Commenting on the partnership with Heifer, Engineer Musa, stated: “As we embark on the critical journey towards a sustainable and climate-resilient Ethiopia, our alliance with Heifer International represents a significant benchmark. Jointly, we are committed to developing a comprehensive lowland and pastoral development strategy, reinforcing the effectiveness of our dairy value chains, and driving commercially viable irrigation programs led by the private sector. This partnership goes beyond traditional collaboration; it serves as a beacon of transformative progress, illuminating our steadfast pursuit for a food-sovereign Ethiopia.”

Dr Regassa said “Development is the concern of the global community and partnership is a vital step towards this. I am glad of the partnership forged today, and I am certain that this will go a long way to achieving the lofty objective of the Lemat Terufat, the flagship program of the Ministry of Agriculture, which has a goal to ensure food and nutrition security, increase export, work on import substitutions, and create job opportunity for women and youth.  The poultry signature program jointly co-designed with Heifer International will contribute significantly to our efforts to boost egg production by 188% and chicken meat by 167% in the coming four years”. 

Heifer CEO Sandosham added, “We are excited to partner with the Ethiopian Government to identify innovative solutions to issues faced by smallholder farmers and pastoralist communities in the country. We also recognize the crucial role that youth play in sustaining Africa's food systems. It is projected that by 2030, 42% of the world's youth population will be in Africa, with a significant number working in agriculture. By investing in young agri-entrepreneurs, they can scale their solutions, improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and position agriculture as a job for the future.”

Heifer International’s Country Director, Ethiopia, Tewodros Ayele who was also at the event, said: “Ethiopia has a vibrant agriculture sector, which contributes about 40% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. We are happy with this latest partnership with the government to boost productivity within this critical space. This partnership enables Heifer International to accelerate ongoing work that strengthens the agricultural value chain, creating jobs and improving food self-sufficiency in Ethiopia.”

About Heifer International
Since 1944, Heifer International has worked with nearly 43 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way.  Working with rural communities across Africa for 49 years, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income. For information, visit