Ethiopian government needs to make one time huge investment to assure food security and cut its increasing hard currency spending on importing food items, says a head of agricultural research institute.
The government has to make one time huge investment to make sure the four key players in agricultural value chain (research, agriculture extension, marketing and aggro-processors) run the system smoothly, according to Dr. Mandefro Nigusse, Director of Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), which was established by the government half a century ago.
He stated that for such a strategy bring the desired outcomes; the government needs to hugely invest at different levels of the value chain. “If we invest at one of these four points and ignore the other key players, we don’t get the desired result. That one time huge government investment allows the system to flow smooth,” said Dr. Mandefro, who is featured on agriculture program on the state broadcaster-ETV.
He indicated that the new strategy has to make sure that the four key players – research, extension, marketing and aggro-processors can work efficiently within the agricultural development value chain in order to make Ethiopia food self-sufficient and end importing wheat, cooking oil and the like.
He indicated that all the four key players has to come together in the strategy so that the products of the researchers such as improved seed varieties reach the farmers, and the surplus produce of the farmers also get to the aggro-processors.
While the country has abundant suitable land for growing wheat, oil seeds and other crops, Ethiopia is currently spending around $600 million a year for importing only wheat, according to Dr. Mandefro.
He stated that Even though Ethiopian government has been investing more than its commitment as per the 2014 Malabo Declaration that requires countries to at least invest 10% of their GDP on agricultural sector development, because 80% of the population in the country is dependent on agriculture, the sector still needs more investment from the government.
Including cooking oil and other food items, it is estimated that Ethiopia spends over a billion dollar a year on import of agricultural products including cookies, tomato paste, pasta and other processed foods.
Though there is a huge amount of arable land and untapped irrigation potential in Ethiopia, currently over 4.5 million people need emergency food assistance, according to the latest report.
In addition, several millions of farmers in Ethiopia are under productive safety net program of the government getting food aid as they can’t produce enough to feed their families.