ETHIOPIA – Ethiopia’s wheat production is expected to increase hitting 4.6 million tonnes during the 2019-20 period as the government unveils plans to ensure the country becomes self-sufficient in wheat production.
This is according to a recent report by the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which projects the upsurge from 4.5 million tonnes recorded last year.
However, despite the increase in production, Ethiopia will still fall short of meeting domestic needs estimated by USDA at 6.3 million tonnes.
“In order to close the gap between demand and supply of wheat, the government has been continuously importing wheat from the Black Sea region for the last several years,” the agency said.
Ethiopia is among top Africa’s wheat producing countries with the commodity accounting for about 20% of the country’s total cereal production.
Rising incomes have also increased the demand for wheat over the last decade with 90% of local production provided by more than 4.7 million small holder farmers, the USDA report reveals.
Wheat is an important commodity in the country’s food basket which has compelled the government to adopt various interventions including the provision of improved farm inputs and farm mechanisation.
Notably, the government has rolled out a US$5.98 million agricultural mechanisation project set to take effect across major grain producing regions in the country.
Implemented by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), the project seeks to establish mechanisation centres that will capacitate wheat farmers to boost production by providing modern agricultural technology.
Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and various research institutes have partnered the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in development of wheat rust resistant cultivars that seek to address wheat rust challenges.
The country boasts of large flour mills with an annual production capacity of 4.2 million tonnes of wheat flour supplied to bakeries at fixed prices.
Currently, the government supplies subsidized wheat imports to contracted flour mills mainly within Addis Ababa who subsequently supply to bakeries at the fixed prices with an aim of making bread more affordable across the country.
The Government of Ethiopia, as the sole controller of all wheat imports which it distributes to large millers, has also imposed grain export ban to meet local demand.
In a bid the address the short term fall of wheat supply in the local market, it recently issued a fresh international competitive tender for the purchase of 400,000 tonnes of milling wheat intended for bread subsidy program.
The commodity supply bids are due by April 19 with delivery of the contracted wheat expected to begin by June/July.