ETHIOPIA – The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) is set to invest a whooping US$5.98 million in building mechanisation centres across the country as it seeks to boost agricultural production.

According to Gebre G. Tsadik, the mechanisation centre pilot project head at the Agency, the mechanisation centres will provide farmers with machinery and equipment to aid in crop planting and harvesting.

ATA plans to set up ten mechanisation centres in four regions: Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and the SNNPR, reports Addis Fortune.

However, land fragmentation has been a major challenge towards utilisation of technology in the country’s agricultural sector, but according to Gebre, the agency plans to offer the services on cluster farmlands to facilitate its efficiency.

The mechanisation centres will rent the technology to clustered farmers cultivating the same crop based on the kind of commodity and amount of productivity.

Gebre said that the projects is geared towards increasing productivity of wheat, barley, corn and sesame.

According to fortune News, the centres will also feature machine operation training centre, maintenance facility and shop for tractor spare parts that will also provide services to other machinery owners.

The project has received supports from the Development Bank of Ethiopia, which has pledged US$1.05 million through a loan – which covers 80% of the cost of the machines.

The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency was established in 2010 as an initiative by the government to facilitate agricultural transformation under the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to Khalid Bomba, chief executive officer ATA, Ethiopia is in momentum of transition and is the major factor in attracting world’s flagship agricultural companies to invest in the country.

“Realizing country’s agricultural transformation, a lot of giant companies have shown a growing desire to involve in the sector.

The companies want to be part of the transformation and to see how they can contribute and also benefit,” he said.

Stressing the importance to keep up with the farmers’ demand for technology and market linkages, Khalid notes that this business oriented mentality encourages them to engage in agro-processing activities thereby benefit both country’s agricultural and industrial sectors.

Among its major achievements, ATA has launched a farmers hotline that provides nutrition related information as well as disseminating agricultural information.

In 2013, the Agency introduced a wheat initiative as a package intervention programme designed to boost wheat yields through improved inputs and procurement.