Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation

Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation was established in December 2015, following the merger of five Ethiopian state-owned enterprises, namely Ethiopian Seed Enterprise, Agricultural Equipment and Technical Services Share Company, Agricultural Inputs Supply Enterprise, Natural Gum Processing and Marketing Enterprise, and Agricultural Mechanization Service Enterprise. The company is the largest field crop seed producer and supplier in Ethiopia, in addition to supplying other agricultural inputs. Being state-owned, the company is supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture. Smallholder farmers constitute the company’s main clientele.

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Eastern and Southern Africa

Summary of results:

Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation ranks ninth in the Eastern and Southern Africa Index, significantly improving upon the performance and score of subsidiary Ethiopian Seed Supply Sector (previously Ethiopian Seed Enterprise) in 2016. The company’s extensive distribution network and close association with farmer groups and cooperatives are ref lected in its performance in Marketing & Sales. In Seed Production, the company discloses corporate commitments to engaging smallholder farmers, including women. The company owes its performance in Governance & Strategy to board-level accountability and a diverse range of activities to develop the local seed sector, while its maize breeding program and multiple testing locations contribute to a strong score in Research & Development. The company discloses limited information about its corporate strategies and policies concerning Genetic Resources. Meanwhile, Capacity Building resources are directed toward the company’s smallholder producers rather than customers, limiting its scoring potential.

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Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Crops in Portfolio
Sales Seed type Source
eth Hybrid OPV GM Own
from other
Field crops
Rice, paddy
Green pea
Pepper (sweet)
Local Crops in Portfolio
  • Tef
  • Fava bean
  • Lentil
  • Mung bean
  • Ethiopian mustard
Leading Practices

    Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation is the only regional index company with tef in its portfolio. Tef is a local cereal native to Ethiopia and a vital staple crop in the country.

    The company collaborates with farmer unions and cooperatives to distribute seed to the remotest areas of the country. It establishes distribution channels and engages with cooperatives and individual smallholders in each kebele (local administrative division), and coordinates with farmer unions to arrange credit and loans at the regional/federal level.

Areas for Improvement

    Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation does not disclose positions on issues related to intellectual property, for instance on farm-saved seed or the breeders’ exemption. The company is encouraged to develop a policy in this area that considers the needs of smallholder farmers and their farming practices.

    The company does not have its own labor standards, as national labor standards are enforced. However, it is unclear to what extent these standards are monitored within the company and in it’s seed production activities. The company is encouraged to clarify how labor standards are maintained within these activities.

    The company is encouraged to develop programs and collaborate with partners in the food value chain to improve access to output markets for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia.

Notable Findings

    Ethiopian Agricultural Business Corporation states that it is taking steps to address the impact of climate change in Ethiopia. In addition to providing seed through local non-governmental organizations to farmers affected by drought, the company multiplies and distributes drought-tolerant varieties of global and local crops, including maize, tef, chickpea, lentil, wheat, sorghum, sesame and mung bean, to smallholder customers.

    The company assigns responsibility for the implementation of policies and targets related to access to seeds for smallholder farmers at the CEO/board level. It also has a tracking system that shows the company reached 509,277 smallholders during the 2015-17 index period.

    The company has multiple partnerships aimed at developing the seed sector in Ethiopia. Sasakawa Africa Association purchases seed from the company and demonstrates and promotes high-yielding varieties to tackle food security and poverty. The company also works with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on a program to promote the distribution and adoption of adapted varieties for smallholder farmers, has a capacity building partnership with the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic), which finances tailor-made training, and with the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) program for direct marketing schemes to solve national seed shortages.

    To ensure seed security in the event of natural disasters, the company is collaborating with research centers, higher institutions and the Institute of Biodiversity and Conservation on the conservation of Ethiopian landraces alongside the development and utilization of improved varieties.

    The company conducts variety testing on an annual basis, predominantly on material obtained from public research institutes. Alongside a testing facility at its headquarters, with a 5,000-sample capacity, the company conducts trials in a number of locations, including Asella, Kofele, Awasa, Nekemte, Bahir Dar and Mekele.

    The company has an adaptive maize breeding program, obtaining almost all of its parent material from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).

    The company has an mandatory internal quality management system to ensure produced seed meets national quality standards.