3 November 2012

Ethiopia: Harvest Need to Be Interlinked With Market Access


A recent assessment of the current crop harvest season has come with good news. The total yield expected to be harvested in the coming few months is hoped to bring a relief to consumers. According to the Governor of the Ethiopian National Bank, the increase in the crop harvest is expected to ease the price hike which has been biting hard.

Logically, an increase in crop production would mean an increase in supply to the market, in which case the rising price will either stabilize or come down. In this respect Ethiopia has every reason to hope that the increase in agricultural production will bring a relief to the soaring price of food crops.

Nevertheless, it is also crucial to appreciate other contributing factors to the rising price of food crops apart from production or supply. Production increase alone may not guarantee, at least in our context, the lowering of prices. In this respect one of the major factors contributing to the rise in price of food commodities is problems related to distribution, and poor market access.

In Ethiopia past experiences have shown that some part of the country experienced hunger while the other part of the country was enjoying bumper harvest. The worst famine in the country's history is also partly caused by a similar problem. Hence lack of market access and in efficient distribution can affect food prices. If what has been produced cannot be taken to the market, it is difficult to conclude that high yield could address price hike.

In relation to this, thanks to the road construction programmes that were undertaken over the past decade, rural part of the country has today more access to important local markets than in the past decades. Local markets are also flourishing in various parts of the country.

It is also important to recognize that the level of market networks existing at present need to be further strengthened. More work has to be done on the creation of local market accessibility to rural farmers and pastoral communities. The cumulative effect of such efforts will bring market stability in the entire country.

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