Interview questions and answers

Interview with Alexio Musindo, Director ILO CO-Addis Ababa about ProAgro Ethiopia Project

News | 05 October 2022

Q 1. How does the ProAgro Ethiopia project contribute to the DWCP in Ethiopia?

We have developed the ProAgro project document taking into account the four pillars of the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) agenda.

The project is a lot around being in the domain of rights at work for the workers with the focus of increasing productivity. Discussions, as a result of the project intervention, on the wage setting process and organization of workers are in line with rights at work and also in line with the national labour laws.

ProAgro aims at creating jobs in the agro-processing sector, which is a priority of the DWCP. One of the different approaches towards job creation is the Skills Development component. Within the ProAgro project, we are working on setting up Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) starting with an agro-processing SSC, issues around entrepreneurship and enterprise development, and provision of employment services through Employment Services Facilitation Centres (ESFCs) with the aim of getting prospective workers and employers to have a meeting space, which should all lead to job creation.

Majority of workers in the agro-processing sector are currently not organized. The ILO, through the ProAgro project, works with the Ethiopian Confederations of Trade Unions (CETU) in assisting the workers to organize themselves to have a common voice and ensuring that international and national labour laws are respected through social dialogue and representation. Increased productivity is also one of the ProAgro components as organizing workers, job creation and other project components will lead to productivity improvement.

Generally, within the agriculture sector in Ethiopia, women's representation is high. Gender mainstreaming is central in the implementation of ProAgro project as the project has taken into consideration areas of interest to women as workers and to men as workers. The project helps to address the gender aspirations that are core to the DWCP.

Finally, by working at the macroeconomic policy level, through the ProAgro project, we are providing technical advisory and capacity building for investment promotion agency professionals both at federal and regional levels to ensure that investments in the country both foreign and local are generating decent jobs. While the agro-processing sector is the entry point for the project, the principles and ‘to do’s on this apply across sectors.

Q 2. How does the ILO collaborate with other UN agencies to improve the agro- processing sector in Ethiopia?

Each of the agencies has their part to play to improve the agro-processing sector in Ethiopia. But as an ILO, we are bringing the world of work related issues: i.e. social dialogue and tripartism, which no other agency brings to the table. The ProAgro project intervention gives a voice to workers and a platform to organize themselves, which will increase productivity. It provides a platform for employers to organize themselves as well. Therefore, ILO is adding value to the work of other UN agencies to improve the agro-processing sector and its profitability towards the national development agenda.

ILO core focus is on human beings who are working in the agro-processing sector and having a human-centred approach to the activities that take place in the sector. For the ILO, it is not only what happened around the sector, rather what happened to the people involved in the process, which is a comparative advantage of the ILO.

We have also initiated a collaboration with GIZ and Cartias International in promoting decent work through behavioural change towards increasing employability by producing and transmitting a radio programme in project intervention regions with local languages.

Q 3. What is the role of tripartism in this project? Why are the tripartite partners needed and how do they contribute to the delivery of the project?

One of the critical issues at any workplace is the issue of dialogue. We have conducted initial assessments in the agro-processing sector. The assessments indicated that workers were not organized, and employers did not have a common point for dialogue. ILO worldwide experience has shown that a platform where workers and employers meet for bipartite dialogues has the potential to ensure sustainability of businesses. In the first year of the ProAgro project implementation, we worked with CETU in reaching out to workers and conducted initial discussions around workers' rights, and identified priority issues for workers, which also would contribute to productivity.

We have also initiated discussions with employers’ organizations to organize themselves and have a voice. Once we have a common voice from workers and a common voice from employers, they will have their own collective bargaining agreements. Through dialogue, as a result of the ProAgro project intervention, we hope to have some Collective Bargaining Agreements signed that would benefit both businesses and the workers in the sector. There is also a need to look into policies where the government comes in through the tripartite dialogue. We have managed to open a window, through the ProAgro project, for having more dialogues within the agro-processing sector by the inclusion of ministries responsible for the sector and workers and employers in Ethiopia.

Q 4. What are the major achievements of the ProAgro Ethiopia project?

The first year of the project was about gaining an understanding of what has been happening in the three sub- sectors, i.e. poultry, fruits & vegetables, and edible oil which were identified through a sector selection exercise. Then we conducted Market System Analysis (MSAs) in those three sub-sectors to see if there are areas to improve and what ILO could do. The MSA studies were finalized and validated, and we are now at the stage of implementing and addressing some of the gaps identified in the studies and the recommendations contained therein.

We also worked at a macro level on a study on transforming Ethiopia’s agro-processing sector to promote more and better jobs. The outcome of this analysis and study goes beyond just a sector but can be used in terms of more and better jobs within the agro-processing sector.

Moving from assessments to implementation, one of the things that we produced is the Core Skills in the Agro-Processing sector Handbook (Trainers and Trainees). This was jointly developed and validated with various stakeholders. A Training of Trainers (ToT) was also provided for experts from TVETs and other stakeholders. Another training manual we have developed is the On the Job Training manual to develop the poultry sector. The manual was validated and finalized, which will be used to create training and job opportunities for young men and women.

We have also supported the establishment of Yirgalem Employment Services Facilitation Centre that is currently providing various employability services including career profiling, career counselling and facilitating job matching. A regional Employment services facilitation centre will be established soon in Amhara region.

We have also developed a poultry Parent Stock and Feed business case study to promote investment and interventions as there is a huge potential for job creation in the poultry sector. We have also provided different training of trainers, such as Start Your Business and Coops. for experts from Amhara and Sidama regions and supported the effort to further cascade to the beneficiaries.

Finally, at macro level again, is the work we are doing with the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), which we have at national and regional levels in terms of targeting investors but also trying to find out if these investments are leading to job creation. And if they are not leading to job creation, to see what ILO can do with government and investors so that the investment can lead to sustainable jobs within Ethiopia.