Ethiopia: Marvelous Action From Famous Artists And Youths Of Addis Ababa
Contrary to the aforementioned practice of importing wheat from abroad, just recently, the government expressed its intention to substitute the imported wheat with local production. Just last week the executive committee of the ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) boldly expresses similar intents.
“I don’t think the government will achieve this goal in two decades,” said an international wheat supplier. Ethiopia is by far our major market in Africa when it comes to wheat and we have been supplying for years but none of us have interest to produce wheat here in Ethiopia.
“We know how tough it is to bring our wheat from our farms and sell it in Ethiopia let alone starting investment of wheat production in here,” said the same source.
Wheat is usually imported from commercial farms in Russia, Ukraine, Australia and Canada.
“And I don’t think there is readiness to have similar farms in Ethiopia and substitute the whole import,” according to an international wheat trader.
Despite the pessimism from the traders, experts would argue that Ethiopia has the capacity to achieve substituting the wheat import.
In his recent interview with The Reporter, Demese Chanyalew (PhD), an economist specializing in the agricultural sector says that the status—quo of importing wheat from abroad should change.
“Ethiopia has been importing wheat annually which it was not supposed to do so, yet it is a regional center for excellence on wheat. We seriously echoed that the government should bring capital to agriculture and at some point they did,” he said.
From the government’s side there have been attempts to introduce capital investments which unfortunately end up being a disappointment.
It can be recalled the global hike in food prices back in 2008 pushed a number of international companies to invest in agriculture particularly in the third world such as Ethiopia. In this regard, Ethiopia has invited number companies to invest in larger scale farming.
By the time, the government identified 3.5 million hectares of land available for agricultural investment which involved both local and international companies. Thousands of investors from both rushed to grab their share of land in regions like Gambella, South, Afar, Amhara and the like.
For instance, by 2015, there were 5,680 local and foreign investors involved in the sector where 2.43 million hectares of land was given to them. However, the result was disappointing where in most cases they fail to perform.
“When it comes to local wheat production, I remember there were a few attempts by the investors with the help of the government to produce wheat in large amounts,” commercial farmers told The Reporter and we able to produce from 40 quintals up to 50 quintals per hectare.
However, this could not continue, he said. One could be the support from the government was not good enough where there were problems to get improved seeds as well as standard machines in order to collect the yield and so on.
There was also lack of coordination among government bodies, he recalled.
“The government needs to walk its talk when it comes to substituting the import,” argues another commercial farmer. “Instead of spending billions to buy wheat from abroad it can allocate a few millions for research and developments.”
“They need to be bold to achieve the goal,” he said.
Just last week, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) approved a new directive which leaves the imports of agricultural mechanization, irrigation and animal feed technologies, and equipment to be tax-free.
This tax reform is aimed at enhancing the agriculture sector by removing duty and taxes on imports of farming machinery, irrigation and drainage equipment as well as animal feed ingredients and technologies; providing incentives to invest in the importation and local production of these technologies, reads the statement issued by ATA.
Despite the optimism however, a report from shows that the country this year needs 6.3 million metric tons of wheat which 1.5 of is expected to be imported.