Addis Ababa, The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Institute (ATI) said that it is expanding access to mechanization for small holder farmers with the aim to boost production and productivity.
The Government of Ethiopia has embarked on a ten-year economic development plan (2021-2030) where agriculture is the priority sector.
The agriculture sector is projected to grow at 6.2 percent per annum, and agricultural export revenue to increase.
To achieve these, the government seeks to leverage on developing the huge unutilized arable land, modernize production systems, and improve uptake of technology.
With respect to modernizing production systems, Agricultural Transformation Institute Deputy Chief Executive Officer Yifru Tafesse said access to mechanization has been one of the critical bottlenecks that have been affecting production and productivity.
This is because the land holding system is very much fragmented and the average land size less than one hectare per farmer, which has been quite difficult to really provide mechanization service for small holder farmers.
In this regard, ATI has introduced in 2019 agricultural commercialization cluster that has brought at least a minimum of 30 farmers together with minimum of half hectare land so that they can have at least 15 hectares per cluster, the deputy CEO added.
That way they can afford to rent or buy mechanization services to plough and use in their farming system. This is the kind of initiative introduced to expand access to mechanization to small holder farmers.
Duty free privilege has also been provided for import mechanization services, so that farmers can get it relatively at a lower price. These are some of the initiatives we have taken to improve access to mechanization, Yifru elaborated.
In addition, ATI also established 10 standardized mechanization service centers that provide mechanization maintenance services in four regions of the country.
If there is a maintenance issue, farmers can take their agricultural machineries for maintenance in those centers.These are some of the initiatives to increase mechanization in agriculture.
“Access to mechanization was below five percent, but it has now increased to ten percent and very soon that will increase to 15 percent. So I think this is a significant. In addition to that, regional governments are really providing priorities to support farmers to have access to mechanization through cooperative system. These are big initiatives that really foster mechanization,” the deputy CEO elaborated.
Data show that more than 3.5 million household farmers are benefiting from the agricultural commercialization cluster which will pave the way to transform the agriculture sector from subsistence to commercial.
Yifru noted that ATI has a number of initiatives that will make food self-sufficiency; and we have for example harvested 104 million quintals wheat last Ethiopian year.
In the highlands only, we used to produce only 55 million of quintals. Now that has been doubled because of the initiative of the Prime Minister Abiy, the deputy CEO stated, adding that as a result the country was able to become not only wheat self-sufficient but export wheat.
Similarly, ATI is aggressively moving into rice production in Amhara and Oromia regions. Therefore, Yifru revealed that the country will very soon be rice self-sufficient.
Source: Ethiopian News Agency