ETHIOPIA – The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) in Ethiopia has unveiled that it will be setting up about 200 agricultural inputs retail outlets, at an estimated investment of US$21.4 million (624 million Br).

The agency in collaboration with the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and regional bureaus aims at establishing the shops in four regional states.

The project will be implemented through a public-private partnership arrangement with an aim of expanding smallholder farmers’ access to advisory services and agricultural inputs such as seeds, agrochemicals and fertilisers.

Yitbarek Semeane, director of inputs at the Agency says that the project will also It improve smallholder farmers’ productivity, food security and incomes through the development of private sector driven and a market-oriented model.

“Agricultural productivity in Ethiopia is low, due largely to limited availability of inputs,” said Yitbarek.

According to an Addis Fortune report, Ethiopia ranks as one of the lowest countries in terms of agricultural input accessibility and utilisation.

This is despite agriculture contributing about 34% to the country’s GDP with a record of more than 71.3 million farmers and 13 million hectares of land under various crops.

Yitbarek says that farmers currently agriculture inputs sourced from the informal markets that are mostly counterfeits, which greatly affects production.

Oromia Regional State will get the largest collection of shops, 80; while the Amhara Regional State will have 54; Southern Nations, Nationalities, & Peoples’ Regional State will have 48; and Tigray Regional State will have 18.

The construction of one shop is estimated to cost between 2 million Br (US$68500) and 2.5 million Br (US$85700) while US$30,000 is required for a onetime supply of agricultural inputs.

The scale of agricultural activities in the regions and how the benefits of such shops could be maximised were the two primary criteria in selecting the four regional states, according to Yitbarek.

Yitbarek said that currently, the construction of 53 centres has been initiated with six shops already completed while the construction of 10 more centres is expected to be finalised before the close of this year.

The retail outlets will be constructed and operated by beneficiaries including farmers, cooperatives and business persons with funding from the agency.

The project kicked off after the successful closure of the US$4 million pilot project that was initiated by the Agency and USAID.

The three-year project was completed in 2018 with 20 one-stop agricultural shops constructed in four regions which effectively served 400,000 farmers, generating a total turnover of US$12 million.