Tigray Agriculture Bureau indicated that it has been striving to capacitate smallholder farmers and boost produce and productivity of the sector through introducing agricultural mechanization.
Speaking to the Ethiopian Herald, Mechanization Acting Coordinator with Tigray Agriculture Bureau, Haftu Haile said that 18,246 hectare of land was tilled over the last six months as model of the project being designed to introduce agricultural mechanization among smallholder livelihoods. He added that mechanized agriculture would hugely transform the centuries-old traditional way of agriculture and bump up yields and increase productivity.
"Ethiopian farmers in general and Tigray farmers in particular have been tilling their land using oxen for hundreds of years. Due to this, farmers have been obliged to lean on a hand-to-mouth harvest," he said, adding, "now the government is adopting agricultural mechanization to transform the sector and to help the farmers produce export-oriented crops. Modern machineries and qualified expertise have been deployed to realize the encouraging progress being ensured so far." Haftu noted that the consciousness of the farmers towards using modern machineries likes tractors, sowing and harvesting machines is growing and the willingness to produce export oriented commodities have been mounting over the last couple of years.
More than 70 tractors were distributed for individual farmers, unions and associations as loan and others are in the pipeline, he indicated.
Besides, market linkage was created for the farmers to sell their produce, Haftu added, "the farmers are being encouraged to produce export items to maximize their income and to play their part in boosting foreign currency earnings."
He pointed out that districts such as Raya Alamata, Raya Azebo, Hawzen, Laelay Maychew, Medebay Zana, Asgede Tsimbila, Wolkayt Tsegede and Humara have been identified as places which have immense potential for mechanized agriculture.
"For instance, Humera is renown in producing sesame among the major export items of the nation. The agriculture being practiced there is supported by modern facilities. This is so because the investors who are engaging there have high capital and material capacity to afford machineries and other basic facilities."
For his part, Tigray Agriculture Bureau Public Relations Senior Expert Michael Miruts said that mechanized agriculture would have massive role in reducing poverty.
He affirmed that efforts are being exerted to restore soil fertility and to scale up best practices in enhancing irrigation mechanization which is very decisive to alleviate rain dependency.
According to him, trainings and awareness creating workshops are being provided for agriculture experts and farmers on agricultural mechanization especially on ways of operating and maintenance of modern machineries.