Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) has announced that plans are underway to harvest 2.6 million hectares of land using cluster farming in the coming harvest year, and also implement market-led farming.
Techane Adugna, Director of Agricultural Commercialization Cluster at ATA made the announcement and said over 1.9 million farmers will benefit from the scheme. Using cluster farming, Mr. Techane noted, the productivity of wheat farming has risen from 30 to 45 quintals per hectare, while that of corn rose from 40 to 60 quintals per hectare. ATA is halfway into a five-year cluster farming project that aims to benefit four million farmers, the director pointed out.
The agriculture commercialization cluster project also aims to ensure farmers benefit from the whole market linkage, Mr. Techane noted. In the previous harvest year, 2.2 million hectares of farm have been harvested. The plan for the upcoming harvest year aims to build on that and see the figure rise to 2.6 million hectares.
Ethiopia’s agriculture is plagued by periodic drought, soil degradation caused by overgrazing, deforestation, high levels of taxation and poor infrastructure (making it difficult and expensive to get goods to market). Yet agriculture is the country’s most promising resource. A potential exists for self-sufficiency in grains and for export development in livestock, grains, vegetables, and fruits. As many as 4.6 million people need food assistance annually.
Agriculture accounted for 50% of GDP, 83.9% of exports, and 80% of the labor force in 2006 and 2007, compared to 44.9%, 76.9% and 80% in 2002–2003, and agriculture remains the Ethiopian economy’s most important sector.