Ethiopian farmers to get mechanization service centers

The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) has signed subgrant agreements with eight cooperative unions and two entrepreneurs for the construction of 10 standardized Mechanization Service Centers (MSC) across Ethiopia. The grant is worth Birr 91 Million (close to $3 million at the current exchange rate).

Each of the MSC owners will receive Birr 9.1 million as a subgrant to cover 70% of the construction cost. The subgrantees will cover the remaining 30% with their own matching contribution. The design of the service centers has also been completed by the ATA and will be handed over to the center owners during the signing ceremony.

During the signing ceremony, ATA CEO Khalid Bomba underscored the importance of mechanization in enhancing productivity and harvest quality, and thereby improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. “Mechanization has the potential to improve yields, and reduce post-harvest losses, catalyzing exponential growth in productivity and income,” he said.

Ethiopian agriculture is predominantly rain-fed and seasonal, with a narrow window to conduct all agricultural operations from land preparation to harvesting, threshing and storage before the next rains. This is aggravated by changes in climate, where out-of-season rain spoils crops before, during and post-harvest as farmers struggle to beat the odds using human or animal labour, according to the press statement from ATA.

“This is further exacerbated by the fact that there is less and less farm labour as youth migrate to urban areas for education or seeking employment, leaving young and the elderly to tend farms. When implemented correctly and in alignment with appropriate use of inputs through agricultural commercialization clusters, mechanization will not only address this challenge but will help smallholders thrive as they produce and sell at commercial level,” the statement said.

The mechanization service centers will be built in the four current implementation regions of the ATA: Amhara, Oromia, Southern and Tigray, and will provide farmers paid access to agricultural mechanization services across the whole value chain—land preparation, crop protection, harvesting, threshing and transportation. Moreover, the centers will also be used to train machinery operators, for maintenance of agricultural machineries, and sale of spare parts.

The Mechanization Service Center (MSC) project is a three-year pilot project implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) with the financial support of the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands through DANIDA and RNA.

Based on the outcomes of the current pilot phase, the MSC project will be scaled to other areas of the country by the MoA and regional bureaus of agriculture and rural development.