Agriculture in Ethiopia
Agriculture is the foundation and backbone of the Ethiopian economy. It accounts for approximately 85% of the exports. The agricultural sector is largely dominated by small scale farmers who use rain fed mixed farming. They have a low input and low output farming technique which responsible for 90% of the total agricultural output. Small scale farmers produce majority of food crops and coffee. Investing in these small scale farmers implies in a stronger agricultural sector and in turn an overall economic growth.
The country has varied agro-climatic zones. The Government extension programme lists these as: areas of adequate rainfall; areas of moisture stress; and pastoral areas. Farmers traditionally classify them as dega (cool), woina dega (temperate) and qolla (low land; warm climate). This diversity makes it favorable region for growing a variety of crops (Desalegn Rahmato 2008). The country is endowed with one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world. It has earned the name “the Water Tower of Eastern Africa” for having more than ten rivers, each of which has irrigation potential. It also has the largest livestock population in Africa (est. 114 million), i.e. 2.5 per capita (MEDIC 1999). As regards to the agricultural suitability of the country’s territory, some estimates indicate that more than 65 percent (78.9 million hectares) of the land is fertile for agricultural purposes (Haile Kibret 1998). Demographically Ethiopia is the most populous country in Africa only second to Nigeria. Around 43% of the population is under the age of fifteen.
The main role of the Ethiopian agriculture sector is producing and exporting the following major categories: coffee, oil crops, pulses, horticulture and live stock. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia is the main exported goods there. It trumps all other export goods. In fact it is the most important good in Ethiopia not only because it is the main support of the economic growth of the nation but also because it is the livelihood of the growers and middlemen as well. A few of Ethiopian coffee
importers are, Germany, Japan, Saudi-Arabia, Belgium, USA, Italy, France, England and Switzerland. Secondly, oil crops such as(and especially) sesame seeds, sunflowers and ground nuts are exported to China, Turkey, Israel, USA, Jordan, Greece, Switzerland, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Britain. Thirdly, Pulses such as white pea beans, chickpeas, peas, mung peas, lentils, and beans are also being e exported to Sudan, UAE, Pakistan, Yemen, India, South Africa, Germany and Singapore. Horticulture items (vegetables and fruits) such as beans, lemon, tomatoes, potatoes, banana, oranges, onion, mango, avocado, cabbages, papaya, and garlic are also exported to several different countries. In terms of livestock Ethiopia stand the tenth in Africa which is very good. Though, animal husbandry hasn’t reached its full potential as a main contributor to the national economy due to the use of backward technologies. Ethiopia has been exporting different livestock like cattle, camels, sheep and goats, together with their meat, to different countries.
There are several constraints to the non-growth of Ethiopia’s agriculture and they mainly consist of things which can be solved easily and some which are completely out of the hands of the people. The main issues are; low resource utilization, low-tech farming techniques, over-reliance on fertilizers and underutilized techniques for soil and water conservation, inappropriate agrarian policy, inappropriate land tenure policy and drought.
Ethiopia is country full of potential! It has reached great lengths since the several challenges it has faced. And the Agricultural economy needs to be handled with more patience and consideration.
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