The project aims to improve rural development through the promotion of organic banana production and marketing for export in Ethiopia and Sudan. Specifically, the project aims (a) to improve the access of the banana sectors in Sudan and Ethiopia to world-wide state-of-the-art organic export banana production and post-harvest technology; (b) to establish organic banana production on 160 hectares in two pilot areas with the active participation and training of small and medium growers and their field labourers, private sector suppliers, public and university scientists, field extension workers; (c) to export certified organic bananas with the active participation of growers, field workers, grower associations, private traders, transport agents and suppliers and public sector post-harvest specialists; (d) to strengthen grower marketing associations to capture greater value-added from export of organic bananas with the active participation of small business management specialists.
After a slow start, the project has now managed to firmly establish an export supply chain of bananas between Sudan to the Middle East with simple, yet effective measures to produce export quality bananas. Today some 40 tons of bananas leave Sudan towards the Middle East on a daily basis. In addition a number of European importers of organic fruit are currently working out first test shipments to Europe. This will over time increase the number of buyers for Sudanese bananas and thus ensure sustainability of results. In Ethiopia, administrative problems led to significant delays and the project only commenced its activities in 2009. However since then, the project was instrumental in generating a promising contact with a large multinational banana trader and test shipments for marketing in the Middle East have been made that led to further investments for preparation of Ethiopia as a major supplier for bananas for niche markets in Europe. In 2012, the first banana exports from Ehtiopia for decades went beyond Djibouti, with an initial shipment of 18.4 tons to a trader in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Subsequently, a second Saudi company signed an export agreement for a further five containers in April 2012 and two more in May. As a consequence the Ethiopian Government has financed a first cold storage facility to further promote this promising export sector.