Hamelmal takes a risk to provide for her family

Hamelmal Ashagrie

Hamelmal Ashagrie is excited for the future.

“I know there is demand for these vegetables. I know they will fetch a higher price on the international market. I’m excited to explore this opportunity.”

Hamelmal is a farmer in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. For over 60 years, she has supported her family and village with the income she earns from selling her produce at the local market.

Hamelmal partnered with MEDA’s private partner, Koga Veg. Koga Veg is a private company that focuses on high-value vegetable production and marketing those products to the international market. Koga Veg introduces peas and other high-value export crops as a means to increase income. They then provide the seed, agricultural training, fertilizer etc. for their farmers.

This partnership is facilitated by MEDA’s Ethiopians Motivating Enterprises to Rise in Trade and Agri-business (EMERTA) project. This project is committed to increasing sustainable employment and income generation for women and men in the Amhara region of Ethiopia by improving the business performance of producers and medium and small enterprises that buy from and supply training, equipment and services to them.

Hamelmal is one of the 31 out-grower farmers that was chosen to trial growing snow and sugar snap peas for the international market with support from Koga Veg and MEDA.

This is a risk. Peas are virtually unknown in Ethiopia, but they fetch a high price on the European market. Hamelmal believes the risk will pay off.

But she had a problem. Her produce did not fulfill the agricultural import standards for Europe.

For produce to be imported, it needs to comply with a regulatory standard. If the produce doesn’t meet this standard, it cannot be imported. Every country has a different set of standards.

“In order for me to qualify for the standards, I needed to have a cold storage, water wells, irrigation pumps and sanitary pumps. I didn’t have any of these things.”

Through EMERTA’s grant program, Hamelmal was able to apply for funding to satisfy the international standards.

As the sole provider for her family, Hamelmal is exited about the possibility of creating an enduring livelihood. She is hopeful that the increased income she makes from her peas will help her pay for her children’s ongoing education.



  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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