17 May 2018

Ethiopia: Best Seed Accessibility for Agricultural Productivity

Best seed supply is improving agricultural productivity.

The agricultural policy framework of Ethiopia, which is known as 'Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI)', sets out agriculture as a primary stimulus to generate increased output, employment and income for its peoples. Moreover, agriculture is serving as a springboard for the development of the industry sector.

The country's agriculture sector, however, is still characterized largely by small‐scale subsistence farming and low productivity that have become detrimental to economic growth and development.

This suggests the need to place much emphasis on improving agricultural productivity to sustain some 80 percent of the more than 100 million Ethiopians who live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The main reason for the low level of productivity was related to limited use of improved/best seeds and associated technologies. Sustainable seed supply, especially of improved varieties, is an essential input for increasing crop productivity.

Cognizant of this scenario, the government has put great emphasis on increasing the production and productivity of small‐scale farmers by supplying best seeds in the best possible way as part of the main goals of ADLI strategy which includes raising crop yields through a centralized and aggressive extension‐based push focusing on technological packages that combined credit, fertilizers, improved seeds and better management.

However, because of shortage of working capital and uncertain access to credit, farmers could not afford to access improved seeds, fertilizers, and modern agricultural practices.

Successful seed program is one which is able to supply a sufficient quantity of high quality seed at the required time, at a reasonable cost and at a place where it is needed. The seed standards have been prepared under the direction of the agricultural product standards committee and published by the Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia.

Amarech Bekele, Corporate Communication and Public Participation Service head at Ethiopian Agriculture Works Corporation told The Ethiopian Herald that increasing the quality of seeds can increase the yield potential of the crop by significant folds and thus, is one of the most economical and efficient inputs to foster agricultural development.

Accordingly, she said, some 53,000 quintals of high quality seed has been distributed to farmers across the country, which is believed to be adequate for the planned production and productivity this budget year. The Corporation has enough amount of best seed reserve which will be distributed in the next production year as per the demand.

The Corporation has been distributing seeds in two ways. The first one is based on the decision of the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resource which is responsible for providing information about the demands of farmers as it has extensive access. Secondly, the Corporation directly supplies best seeds in Woredas where the Ministry could not access.

Currently, the corporation is distributing four types of best seeds. These are cereals such as wheat, Sorghum, Teff, Maize, rice, barley, niger seed, faba bean, chickpea etc. The second one is fiber crop that include cotton and sisal. The third one is horticultural vegetables crops such as cabbage, carrot, tomato and potato. The last one is perennial crops (pepper, coffee and mango avocado).

According to her, the Corporation has been distributing adequate supply of best seeds for small scale farmers. Unlike in the past, the Corporation has now a vast land to conduct the breeding and multiplying of best seeds. For instance at the Gedeb Asasa Woreda, there is wide land seed multiplying farm named Ardayita. It covers 310,000 hectare land. There is also another best seed farm in Godefeya.

"We are working in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock which is implementing the rural agriculture extension activities. "For instance, the Ministry would give us tips and directives about areas that do not have access to improved seeds," she added.

The Corporation has laboratory to test whether the new seed is well-matched with the farmers' land. "It is only then that we distribute in bulk to large number of farmers," Amarech said.

The main challenge that the Corporation has been facing so far is the low level of farmers' awareness about the advantages of adopting best seeds. To address the, Corporation has been providing trainings to the farmers. Adopting a variety of improved seeds would improve the productivity of farmers.

GDP from Agriculture in Ethiopia increased to 573.10 billion birr in 2016 from 274 billion in 2015. It is averaged 197.68 billion birr from 1999 until 2016, reaching an all time high of 573.10 billion birr. In 2016, the share of agriculture in Ethiopia's gross domestic product was 37.23 percent.

Agriculture still remains to be the largest sector of the economy, providing jobs for 80 percent of the workforce. In the previous budget year, the agricultural sector grew by six percent, contributing 35.8 percent to the GDP.


Reform boosting coffee export volume, forex earning

Despite having huge potential of coffee production, dependency on primary agricultural exports for foreign exchange gains and absence of value addition in coffee export have been challenging earnings of high amount of foreign currency exchange to the nation.

The extension of days before coffee is exported and the long chain of actors like illegal brokers involved in the market have also prevented the farmers from being beneficiaries of their hard work.

Recently, Ethiopian Coffee and Tea Development Authority (ECTDA) has introduced a reform to maximize coffee production and productivity by extending its service delivery institutions up to lower levels to increase coffee export volume. It facilitates better coffee price earnings.

The new reform allows producers or farmers either to supply their coffee for exporters or directly export their coffee product without involvement of brokers or illegal actors.

Moreover, coffee roasters and packers were restricted to supply their coffee products only to the local market. But the reform allows the roasters and packers to export to international markets.

Following the implementation of the reform the coffee sector has shown an increment in terms of export volume, trading capacity and foreign currency earnings than the same season of previous years, according to authority's nine months performance report.

In comparison with the same period last year, coffee export volume has shown significant increment with 19.564 tons (14%) export volume and 14.4 million US dollar (2.64) increment in forex earning respectively says Shafi Umer, Deputy Director of Coffee and Tea Development Authority and Marketing Head.

On average, compared to other coffee exporting months, December's performance has shown the greatest export volume, which has recorded 115 percent of performance. And February's performance has shown a downward trend due to various challenges and only 69 percent performance was recorded. In regard with revenue generation August and September generated high revenue which totals 92 percent of its performance, he added.

ECTDA has given direct coffee export recognition license for small scale coffee producers and farmers who own more than two hectares of coffee farmland to export their produces. The reform has a great role for the nation to expand export volume and contribute its role in coffee marketing for its foreign currency earnings. It is expected to prevent illegal transactions and to involve coffee producers, farmers and cooperatives directly in the marketing or export.

Alongside implementing the reform the Authority has finalized preparations to put in place a system for value addition and new marketing system establishing coffee processing, training and research institute to improve productivity, increase coffee export quality, minimize transaction cost and to boost foreign exchange earnings.

It has also planned to take advantage of a large volume of coffee export to the global market to increase the amount of revenue, to increase and improve farmers and producer's income generation.

Minilik Habtu, Ethiopian Coffee Roasters Association President and Typica Specialty Coffee Exporter Managing Director says it is on process to establish the first Ethiopian Coffee Processing Institute, in the coming three up to four months to improve quality of coffee export, increase foreign exchange income and to produce trained personnel to address shortage of professionals in the sector.

The institute facilitates the competitiveness of coffee in the global market. Countries and institutions use various mechanisms of promotion to sell their coffee. Such institutions do not exist in our country, but sending people abroad for training in the field is very costly, he adds.

Hence the would-be coffee processing institute is aimed to solve problems related to coffee quality, production and quality export including mechanisms of promotion to sell the product, Million stressed.

The design works and selection of place for the institute has been completed for further coffee processing activities, he pointed out.


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