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Ethiopian made cactus pear marmalade to be exported and sold in Italian stores

Tigrai Online, February 26, 2015

Cactus pear is widely spread in the northeastern Tigrai state of Ethiopia

A cooperative of women in Ethiopia is set to reach the international market thanks to a partnership between Italian gourmet food store Eataly and FAO.

The two joined forces in 2013 to support family farmers around the globe in boosting their production and finding ways to reach new overseas customers. The work with the women's cooperative is one example of this collaboration.

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For a few years Tsega Gebrekidan Aregawi ran a small kiosk in the northern Ethiopian town of Mekelle, where local university students would stop by to purchase fresh fruit juice, biscuits and homemade marmalades on their way to and from class.

It was a small operation. At that time Tsega could hardly imagine that some of her own products might someday fly from Africa to reach international markets.

But things changed last year when FAO and the Italian food chain Eataly reached out to her and her five-woman cooperative with a challenging offer.

Founded in northern Italy in 2007, Eataly has grown into a global, high-quality food and beverage chain that combines culinary excellence with tradition — with a special focus on small-scale production, sustainability, and fair trade.

FAO and Eataly offered Tsega and her colleagues support in producing more cactus pear marmalade, which would be then bought and shipped to European tables.

Tigrai made cactus pear marmalade to be exported and sold in Italian stores
Tsega Gebrekidan Aregawi and her five-woman cooperative group produce cactus pear marmalade to be exported to Italian markets. In the photo they are posing with the jars of jam they make.

The group rose to the challenge. So far, they've produced 4,000 jars of marmalade and is now looking at using the revenues to even expanding their output and the variety of what they produce.

To help them in this effort, trainings were organized to help them improve their performance during harvesting as well as to increase their quality standards. The Ministry of agriculture has been providing technical assistance throughout.

This support for the cooperative and the development of new agricultural products forms part of a larger, broader development initiative undertaken in partnership between FAO and the governments of Ethiopia and Italy, to which the Italian Development Cooperation has provided approximately $9 million in funding support over the past eight years.

Source of the above text is FAO you can read the entire article below.
http://www.fao.org/news

About the Cactus Pear Fruit in Tigrai state

Cactus pear which is locally known as “beles or kolkoal bahri” is common in the most northern state of Tigrai. Cactus pear is mainly popular in the northeastern region of Aagme of Tigrai state, but it is known and consumed throughout the state. It is used as a source of food, cash income, as a fire wood, and animal feed by local people. Cactus was introduced to to Tigrai in the 1800 hundreds by Catholic Missionaries to the Alitena area in Erob, Agame region. Some people dispute the exact dates when the cactus pear was introduced to Tigrai. About 379,338 hectares of land is covered with the cactus trees. There are 50 varieties of cactus pear found in Tigrai.

The natural resource of Cactus pear in Ethiopia has not been utilized until now. Cactus pear is sometimes seen as a problem by farmers in the parts of the state.

Health benefits of Cactus pear fruit

Cactus pear is known to contain many vitamins, nutritional benefits to your body. Some of the nutritional benefits include: low-calorie, saturated fat- and cholesterol-free source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium and antioxidant compounds. After you remove the tine thorns and peel the thick skin of the fruit, the flesh of the cactus pear can be eaten raw. It can also be pureed to produce a brightly colored, flavorful juice. The rich nutrients in the cactus pear could help your health and might minimize your risk of many serious medical problems.

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