Ethiopia: Funny Monologue By Esegenet Kebede "Yebet Sera Yematata Hager"
Debebe Assefa is grain trader from Bekoji East Arsi Zone, Oromia Regional State. He has been involved in the business of buying different kinds of grains from framers and sells it to other wholesalers. As Arsi is known for its high wheat cultivation and production, Debebe would usually buy wheat from farmers and sell it to factories.
He has been doing it for a while where he says despite the fact that the weather and the land in Arsi is said to be suitable for wheat production farmers in the area are always limited by a number of factors not to use their full potential. In fact some studies indicate that more than 50 percent the country’s wheat production comes from the highlands of Arsi and Bale.
“For some of the farmers it is always difficult to sell their wheat because of low production; and because of this they use it only for their own consumption instead of selling it.”
He mentioned a number of reasons for the aforementioned limitations from the farmers’ side.
One could be the government’s failure to supply different insecticide and pesticides for the farmers on time and with enough quality, he said. Moreover, the farmers have no other alternatives to get those essential inputs for their yields.
A number of studies indicate that Ethiopia is among the major wheat producers in Sub-Saharan Africa and wheat takes the lion’s share of total cereal production in Ethiopia.
For instance, a latest report released by the United States Department of Agriculture indicates that Ethiopia, as of last year, has managed to produce 4.5 million metric tons of wheat. This amount was produced by 4.7 million smallholder farmers who occupy 1.7 million hectares of land. In fact 95 percent of the wheat production comes from smallholder farmers who are majorly dependent on rain whereas the rest five percent is from large commercial farms.
Moreover, other studies show that wheat producers in Ethiopia consume 59 percent of it where as sell 20 percent to the market and retain the rest for seed production.
In relation to this, from the total annual consumption of wheat which is not less than 6.3 million metric tons, 30 percent to 35 percent of the demand is covered by imported wheat which the government have been spending billions of birr to purchase the wheat.
The country is dependent on a complicated wheat procurement process which sometimes is controversial. For instance, since 2010, Public Procurement and Property Disposal Service (PPPDS) purchases no less than five million metric tons of wheat at a cost of 31.66 billion birr. This includes wheat purchased both for market stabilization which is being distributed to factories and bakery houses with a subsidized price and the rest for relief efforts.
It is to be recalled that the government began to distribute wheat to users with a subsidized price since 2008 following double digit inflation and a global food shortage and food hike.