Ethiopia has managed to realize its vision of becoming a wheat export nation, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, after the first shipment last week.
The announcement follows a consecutive positive outcome from the last off-season summer cultivation, and cluster farming from the main meher crop season.
The 2022 irrigation-based summer cultivation helped the country to produce 25 million quintals of wheat. This led authorities to halt wheat imports while drawing praise from the President of the African Development Bank who called it “an incredible story of success”.
Official estimates put the harvest from the 2022/23 meher farming season at 101 million quintals, paving the way for the government to launch wheat export.
PM: Wheat Export dream A reality
Prime Minister Abiy presided over a national wheat export launch program held in the Bale Zone of the Oromia region on Sunday.
The event saw the first 1.2 million quintals of wheat shipped off to the international market, as per Oromia region officials.
“We have fulfilled what we promised our people and today we have made Ethiopia’s wheat export dream a reality,” the Premier said.
“It is testimony that we dream big; say what we dream; do what we say, working day and night, and show what we have done after completion,” he noted.
The production, which helped to attain import substitution, has shown a surplus of 32 million quintal, according to the PM’s Macroeconomic advisor Girma Biru.
The government is now expected to step up its export bid and has already secured contracts with six countries, including neighboring Sudan and Kenya, keen to buy Ethiopian wheat.
Forecast: harvest to grow
The country, a subject of repeated climate change-induced drought, is currently midway through the irrigation-based summer production campaign as part of its push to achieve food self-sufficiency by cultivating the crop throughout the year.
The campaign, which supports smallholders pooling resources to purchase inputs, has increased cultivation area to 1.3 million hectares from 400,000 hectares in 2022.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture projection, the plan this year is to double the total harvest secured last summer and produce 52 million quintals of wheat.
Together with the main Meher production, the projected off-season summer cultivation will bring the national annual wheat harvest to 152 million quintals.
The annual harvest is also expected to help Ethiopia meet its 107mln quintals annual demand and save $600 million in spending, and strengthen export trade.