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The State of Food Science and Technology in Ethiopia

Habtamu Guja, Meseret Azene and Kaleab Baye1


Ethiopia has 80-85% of its population in rural areas, largely dependent on small-scale farming as a source of livelihood with Agriculture being the backbone of the economy.  However, much of the country’s agricultural products are either consumed locally with minimal processing or exported without any value addition. The food and beverage industry is among the largest, but is rather traditional and produces mainly cereal flour, pasta, biscuits, beer, etc. As a result, the sector has not yet delivered its potential. The sector could have: particularly addressed issues of food waste by processing perishable foods, closed seasonal food gaps, prevented food safety outbreaks, and stabilised the food market.

Ethiopia’s Transforming Economy

The Government aims to transform Ethiopia’s economy as reflected in the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan (2015-20). The plan envisions an industrialised middle-income Ethiopia by 2025. Among the strategies that will be adopted will be raising the share of the industrial sector from its current 13% to 27%, translating into a GDP share of 18% in 2025. A great focus in this industrialisation process is the transformation of the food processing sector, which is believed to benefit from increased demand for processed and convenience foods for a rapidly urbanising population. The sector is also believed to earn the country the much needed foreign currency.

Successes and Challenges

In the past decade, key successes were witnessed including the implementation of the growth and transformation plan (I&II), the drafting of the Food and Nutrition Policy of Ethiopia that is now being finalised; the significant number of food science and technology related undergraduate and graduate programs that have been opened in universities across the country with the aim of catalysing industrialisation. However, the number of graduates is outpacing industrial development. Other challenges include the huge problem of food safety and the related foodborne outbreaks; the supply of adequate quantity and quality of raw materials for the food industry; the significant loss of earnings due to the export of raw materials without value-addition; and academic programs that are not always producing graduates that are fit to face the food science and technology sector of the 21st century.

The Way Forward

As Ethiopia’s food economy industrialises, it is expected that it will drive changes in dietary patterns that, if not designed well from the onset, may lead to a proliferation of unhealthy diets leading to epidemics of foodborne acute and chronic diseases. Therefore, a conscious food science and technology sector that is ready to face the realities of the 21st century is needed in Ethiopia and elsewhere. This refers to a food science and technology sector that eloquently converges the agriculture, environment, health and wealth pathways. This can be achieved through the enabling policy environment put forward by the Food and Nutrition Policy of Ethiopia, the National Nutrition Program, and the various food systems initiatives that start from farms and move all the way to the diet.


DAB (2014). An overview of Ethiopian Manufacturing Sector. Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (AACCSA), Addis Ababa.  

National Planning Commission (2015). The Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II). The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Research and Market (2016) Food (processing) industry in Ethiopia: Business Report 2017. Dublin, Ireland. 

WUR (Wageningen University and Research). 2013. Business opportunities for food processing in Ethiopia. Retrieved from: opportunities-in-the-food-processing-sector


Habtamu Guj and Meseret Azeneare with the Center for Food Science and Nutrition, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia;, Kaleab Bay, the corresponding author, is with  Bioversity International; e-mail:


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IUFoST Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB)



John Spink, PhD
Food Fraud – and the focus on prevention – is an important and evolving food industry focus. Even though the vast majority of these incidents do not have a health hazard in some ways they are more dangerous because the substances and actions are unknown and untraceable.  The types of food fraud stretch the traditional role of food science and technology to include criminology, supply chain traceability and other control systems. The food authenticity and integrity testing will be the most complex actions and their value should be assessed in terms of the contribution to prevention. This Scientific Information Bulletin (SIB) presents an introduction, review of incidents, the fundamentals of prevention which then provide insight on the optimal role of Food Science and Technology.
See IUFoST SIBS below for the complete Food Fraud Prevention Scientific Information Bulletin.






Congratulations Prof. Dr. Purwiyatno Hariyadi

Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Puwiyatno Hariyadi who has been elected to the position of Vice-Chair of the  CODEX Alimentarius Commission.

Dr. Hariyadi is a Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST) and Senior scientist, SEAFAST Center; Professor, Dept. Food Science and Technology, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia.

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