Ethiopia seeks to privatize agricultural extension program to improve service delivery

ETHIOPIA – The government of Ethiopia through the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is finalizing legal frameworks that enable private companies provide agricultural extension programs.

The move, according to reports by Ethiopian Reporter would effectively end government monopoly of the service.

The draft laws currently being discussed with stakeholders and expected to be ratified this fiscal year include directives and manuals that will guide how private extension program operators are licensed, supported and regulated.

“Private companies willing to engage in extension program business are being created in Ethiopia. We will introduce incentive packages to make the business profitable for them.

“In remote agricultural areas where the private extension service providers cannot operate, the government will maintain the existing program,” Isayas Lemma, Crop Development Director at the Ministry said.

Isayas pointed out that lessons have been drawn from countries that use such hybrid extension service such as Kenya with players such as AGRA, CropIn, Syngenta, One Acre Fund among others.

Under the new plan, agro dealers will be authorized to deliver end-to-end agricultural technologies to farmers.

The amendment was necessitated following the wide gap of productivity between agricultural research centers and farmers. High productivity achieved at research centers usually does not diffuse to farmers.

In related news, the Ministry has also finalized the long-awaited Contract Farming Proclamation to initiate the out-growers scheme in Ethiopia.

The draft proclamation, which has introduced various changes in land policy and the commercial code of Ethiopia, will be ratified this year, according to Isayas.

“We know absence of contract farming law has been a major bottleneck. The drafting took a long time. It will solve the varying land regulations in regional states. This will solve especially the financial shortage Ethiopian farmers usually face.

“Contract farming is also necessary for industrial parks and other industries, to get quality and a sustainable supply from farmers. It will also improve exports,” said Isayas.

Basically, contract farming or out-growers scheme is a modality in which farmers grow what the market wants.

Exporters, processors, supermarkets, commodity suppliers and even foreign buyers can provide agricultural inputs for farmers, and finally directly take the harvest. Price is set based on harvest forecast, and farmers enter agreements with buyers.

Meanwhile in Kenya, livestock farming in Kajiado and Narok Counties is set for a major facelift following the launch of a new project that is aimed at helping the local community upgrade their herds.

The project dubbed Land for Life is a transboundary project being implemented in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania landscape by the World-Wide Fund for Nature – Kenya (WWF-Kenya) in partnership with the South Rift Association of Land Owners.

It is aimed at improving the wellbeing of the local people while protecting nature and securing a healthy, connected landscape for wildlife.

The initiative will include giving the local communities a pedigree Sahiwal bull which they can then use to slowly and steadily upgrade their herds.

Sahiwal cow is a hardy animal good for beef and milk, the milk can supplement the family income while it can also be sold for beef

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