Founded in 2019, Tewomed Trading is an Ethiopian export company with its headquarters in Addis Ababa. Ahead of the GPC’s Pulses 22 convention, Kirsten Provan spoke to Tewodros Yilma about Ethiopia’s growing economy, the importance of up-to-date technology, and the impact of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Tewomed Trading is a strategic partner of the Global Pulse Confederation and a key sponsorship partner for the upcoming Pulses 22 convention in Dubai on May 10–12.
Of course. The company was established mainly to supply superior quality Ethiopian agricultural products to different parts of the world. Currently, those products include oilseeds, pulses, spices, and green coffee beans, all of Ethiopian origin. More specifically, on the pulse side, we deal with red kidney beans, green mung beans, desi chickpeas, pinto beans, and faba beans, to name a few.
Our operations extend across procurement, processing, warehousing, transport, and containerized export. We’re a full-service supplier with a flexible, logistical network capable of fulfilling orders of any size and specification.
In an attempt to diversify, we have also engaged in the import of machinery for processing, cleaning, and packaging agricultural produce. We also participate in tenders floated by the Ethiopian government for the supply of various products such as fertilizers, wheat, and white cane sugar.
You’re right; there has been a huge effort to modernize the agriculture sector and increase the productivity of many agricultural products. However, we haven’t actually seen much of an increase on the export side, particularly where pulses are concerned. The demand for Ethiopian pulses is growing significantly, which is great, but we still face supply shortages, which are always a challenge, especially when dealing with global demand.
The demand for pulses of Ethiopian origin has always been there; it’s nothing new for us to see demand from the international market. And since there is this demand, our farmers are keen to sell, and they benefit well from the sale of their produce. I can also say, without a doubt, that organisations like the Global Pulse Confederation have contributed significantly to the global interest in our origin products.
Though it’s true that we did enter the business while the world was facing many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been lucky that the demand for pulses and all other food products has always been there, even with all the logistical issues. As a newly established company, we just had to accept all challenges and hardships, and we worked hard to overcome any issues.
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has caused a serious food supply shortage at a global level, and, of course, it will affect Ethiopia in the same way it will affect many other nations. Ethiopia imports products such as wheat, sugar, edible oil, and rice in huge volumes from the international market, with countries like Russia and Ukraine being the major suppliers. So, obviously, we’ll face challenges there. However, over the past two years, in an effort to establish a sustainable food supply within the country, the government has been working tirelessly to increase the production of wheat. This year, Ethiopia will have an additional 25 million tons of wheat, which I believe will help to reduce our dependency on imports from the global market.
There’s no doubt that being equipped with the latest agricultural processing technologies plays an important role in meeting the quality level of the global market. I believe that keeping up-to-date with all the latest machinery has also made a significant contribution to ensuring our pulse products enter the global market without much of a challenge.
Absolutely, we work very closely with our farmers and share a lot of important market information with them, especially about maintaining the quality of the products they produce and different farming practices they should adopt. Most Ethiopian farmers are traditional farmers, so there is some effort needed to transform agricultural farming practices and stay on top of new research and innovative methods. We definitely believe we’re playing our part in making that happen.
We are always striving to discover new destinations and new markets for our pulses. Ultimately, our aim is to become a major supplier of pulses in the global market, so, yes, we’re always looking ahead to expansion and progression.
It is exciting to see the GPC’s convention, Pulses 22, return after a two-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re extremely glad to be able to play our part in sponsoring the convention and supporting the Global Pulse Confederation.
I believe Pulses 22 will be a unique convention. Firstly, because it will be the first to take place after the pandemic suspended things for two years. And secondly, because it will be taking place while we face the serious and significant challenge of food shortages in many parts of the world. I am certainly looking forward to meeting other players in the industry coming from different parts of the world; it’s a wonderful opportunity to exchange information and ideas about those current, burning issues. After two years apart, we definitely have a lot to catch up on.