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May 20, 2024 – IIRR Ethiopia has announced the commencement of the Mass Youth Employment in Apiculture (MaYEA) Program at a kickoff workshop conducted in Arbamich City, South Ethiopia Region. MaYEA is a five-year program that aims to disrupt the apiculture sector and allied value chains, with a goal of tripling the current annual honey production in Ethiopia by 2028.

Participants of the kickoff workshop

As the event coincided with World Bee Day, IIRR’s apiculture lead briefly spoke to the participants about the significance of bees and the need to protect “the special insects”. A total of 75 participants – drawn from partner South Ethiopia Regional State government structures including Finance, Agriculture, Youth and Sports, Job Creation and Enterprise Development, Women and Children Affairs bureau heads; department heads of the respective offices at the zonal level, woreda administrators from the project implementing woredas, representatives of two partner NGOs, and relevant IIRR staff – attended the kickoff workshop.

Ato Tesfaye Yigezu making his opening remarks

Ato Tesfaye Yegezu, Regional Vice President and Job Creation and Enterprise Development Bureau Head, opened the workshop and welcomed participants. He thanked IIRR, Mastercard Foundation, and their partners for bringing to the region a program that he described as well planned and instrumental in creating much needed job opportunities to the high number of youth in the region. He appreciated the fact that 80% of the program participants will be women and expressed his belief that “if women are given the opportunities, they can transform entire communities and societies.” Ato Tesfaye further said MaYEA is directly linked with the country’s major development initiative (“yelemat tirufat”), job creation, and enterprise development, and urged all partners to work hard towards the success of the program. Following the opening remark, IIRR Ethiopia director Zerihun Lemma presented a brief overview of IIRR and its interventions in South Ethiopia Regional State. Ato Addis Hailemichael, MaYEA Program Lead and Food and Nutrition Program Director, also made a presentation that included information on the background, goals, objectives, strategies, and activities of MaYEA.

During a discussion session, participants expressed their commitment to contributing their best efforts to the success of the project and made valuable suggestions that will help to enhance the successful implementation of the project.

Participants expressing their views during the discussion

South Ethiopia Regional Vice-President, IIRR Ethiopia director, and MaYEA Program Lead leading the discussion

In his closing remarks, Ato Tesfaye Yegezu said that MaYEA deserves the utmost attention of every stakeholder, and he pledged his and the regional state’s support to the development endeavor. MaYEA is a partnership between the Mastercard Foundation, IIRR, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), and ORDA Ethiopia. It is implemented in coordination with other key actors in the sector including SOS Sahel Ethiopia, Movement for Ecological Learning and Community Action-Ethiopia (MELCA- Ethiopia), Bees for Development Ethiopia(BfDE), and Population Health and Environment Ethiopian Consortium (PHE-EC).