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USAID-Ethiopian airlines to source food from local farmers for in-flight meals

Ethiopian Airlines and the United States have announced a new partnership agreement that will enable the flagship carrier of the nation to produce locally grown products and ingredients for preparing in-flight meals for global passengers

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam and US Ambassador Michael Raynor have signed a memorandum of understanding under which the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide technical assistance and access to financing to Ethiopian farmers and food producers to ensure that they are able to meet the quality and volume standards of airlines to serve their customers.

These new business links will help farmers and local agribusinesses reach a prominent new market and increase their revenue streams – with annual sales of up to US$10mn in total – while providing Ethiopian Airlines with farm-fresh ingredients directly sourced from Ethiopia, thus reducing the need for foreign suppliers to produce processed food for their catering services.

USAID support will help Ethiopian Airlines identify local suppliers for the list of catering materials that may potentially be required by the airline, as well as provide support to farmers’ cooperatives, youth groups, women’s groups and other local agricultural enterprises in order to meet production requirements. The US government loan facility will also expand access to financing for local companies, farmer cooperative unions, and others to expand their operations as needed to meet the quality and supply requirements of Ethiopian Airlines.

“We deeply value our relationship with USAID and extend our appreciation to USAID for all its support. The new partnership consolidates our efforts to continue providing high-quality in-flight meals to global passengers while intensifying our efforts to create an enabling environment for local farmers across the value chain. We would like to maintain our partnership with USAID in a number of areas,” said Tewolde GebreMariam.

“The partnership we are launching demonstrates what’s achievable when prominent businesses like Ethiopian Airlines invest in other Ethiopian businesses and individuals, resulting in the truly home-grown economic success that has the potential to be a model for other sectors,” said Ambassador Raynor.

This partnership agreement will run until December 2022. It will help pave the way for Ethiopian Airlines and local producers and farmers’ groups to continue these supply links and partnerships in the future.