By Pawlos Belete
In Capital Newspaper, Monday, 07 November 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
This season Ethiopia hopes to harvest 215 million quintals of crops. According to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), by attaining this goal Ethiopia could become self sufficient in per capita crop consumption which stands at 2.5 quintal per head.
Last week, a senior member of MoA and a parliamentarian paid a five day field visit to the Amhara, Oromiya, and Southern Nations Nationality and Peoples states.
According to data from the Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA), the agricultural Gross Domestic Product stood at 59.3 billion birr in 2009/10. It represents 42 percent of the national GDP which was estimated at 142.8 billion birr in the same period.
“We are expecting about 215 quintals of crop yield this harvesting season alone. And as we have observed in the past four days of our field visit, the MoA’s target is attainable,” argued Tarekegn Tsigie Communication Director at MoA.
Sileshi Getahun, State Minister of Agriculture for Natural Resource said that though the joint result of both development agents and farmers on the ground is promising, their inability to take into consideration the issue of natural resource conservation is a matter that needs urgent intervention.
“Natural resource conservation is not an issue to be only considered at drought prone areas. It is also crucial for non drought prone areas too. Without natural resource conservation, there is no sustainable agricultural development. Without sustainable development, there is no sustainable productivity. That is why the issue of climate change is the number one agenda for any government agenda both politically and economically around the globe. If we do it right now, we can reap the benefits that arise from the international community to fight against the possible impact of climate change. Doing that is simple, it is a matter of enlightening the farmers to plant some kind of flora in their farm area so that it reduces the risk of flash erosion instantly and contributes to the rehabilitation effort to curb global warming,” said the state minister.
Statistics show farming’s share of the GDP has been declining by around three percent every year over the last three years. Livestock and fishing are waning at similar rates, according to the report.
Grain production has been increasing, reaching 18 million tons last season. Since 2005 it has risen by 50 percent.
The World Bank estimates that grain production is at 2.17 quintals per capita for Ethiopia’s 83 million people which is close to the minimum requirement.
In the 2010 fiscal year Ethiopia grew nearly 23 million tons of crops, mostly consisting of cereals at 68 percent. Pulses, root crops and enset are the next three major crops but are still in the single digits as far as overall percentages are concerned. Other crops include sugar cane, oil seeds and fruits and vegetables which all make up around four percent. Coffee and chat represent the smallest share of crop production at one percent each, according to EEA. Cereal, pulses and oil also take up the largest share of land, with cereal taking up 72 percent.
In a bid to revolutionize Ethiopian agriculture, the government introduced extension services throughout the country. Now 9,265 Farmer Training Center (FTC) exist, each equipped with three mid level professionals including specialists in crops, natural resources and livestock. Each agricultural development agent has one hectare of land under their disposal for practical demonstrations. Training is being given at around 6,500 centers, a majority of which is considered to be at an intermediate level, according to the information obtained from the ministry.
Currently, 11.5 million hectares of land is under cultivation. Verity soil accounts for around a million hectares which can produce eight to ten quintals per year. Now with support like Broad Based Machine (BBM) training and indigenous knowledge, farmers in Amhara, Oromiya and Sothern Nation Nationality and Peoples Regional States are producing more than 50 quintals per hectare on average.