Ethiopia: Institue Gearing Up for Rice Import Substitution Scheme

Plans to save 300 mln. USD spent a year for rice

BY YOHANNES JEMANEH

ADDIS ABABA -The Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) accentuated that Ethiopia has to employ agricultural technology and mechanized farming to save 300 million USD spent each year for rice importation.

Having a stay with the Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA), EIAR Researcher and National Rice Production Program Coordinator, Mulugeta Atnaf (PhD) said that the country has planned to substitute rice importation through increasing productivity and utilizing its abundant natural resources via employing various agricultural technologies and farming irrigation.

He further said that the government is endeavoring to scale up productivity so as to substitute importing rice by beefing up

the local product which is covering only 20 percent of the national demand at present.

"Each year, Ethiopia spends about 300 million USD to import rice to cover 80 of the national demand despite the natural resource abundance for the productivity of the cereal. If things go as per the schedule, the plan will help fully stop importing rice within five years,"he said.

Some 95 percent of Ethiopia's rice is imported from India when the stock market is crashing these days due to COVID-19 PANDEMIC impact, he stated.

Rice is among the commodities like wheat and food oil that the government is striving to ensure supply under its COVID 19 mitigation strategy, he mentioned.

It was thirteen years ago that the government named rice as crop of the millennium for to its rich nutrient value and potential to achieve food security. But, a lot remains to be done to realize this desire through wide range of investment, he remarked. Currently the country is producing 40 quintals of rice per hectare which makes the cereal the second most productive crop in the country next to maize, Mulugeta said adding that his institute is working to grown this number by additional 10 quintals.

Expansion of mechanization and effective work in cooperation with farmers and experts will help improve both the quality and quantity of the product, and some 38 rice varieties are currently dispatched to farmers, he added.

He also pointed out that the country should use both rain and irrigation to lift up production on its wetlands. In addition, the government needs to expand mechanization to achieve import substitution.

Studies conducted in 2014 indicated that the country has about 13 million most suitable arable landsfor rice production although it is only 60,000 hectares that have been cultivated so far, it was learnt.

Rice is a lowland crop but it needs a huge amount of waterand hot temperature. Fortunately, both necessities are abundant in Ethiopia which makes the country suitable for rice productivity, according to Mulugeta.

Fogera, Beninshangul, Gambella, West of Gondar, Somali, South Omo, Guraferda are the most suitable areas for rice production identified by studies, he mentioned.

To this end, various research centers including Pawi, Gondar, Jimma, Tepi, Jinka, Werer, Bako and Asosa are working together under the EIAR to provide the producers with swift seed and other agricultural technologies, he mentioned.

International Rice Research Institute and Africa Rice Center are supporting Ethiopia in rice production through providing germ plasm of the grain, it was indicated

The Ethiopian Herald 27 March 2021

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