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The Fortnight

Ethiopia

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Jun 30, 1998 | From the print edition

A major change in the agricultural policy by the East African country has helped increase crop production. In the last five years, the government has invested more money, provided far-mers with more services and perhaps most important, allowed them to sell their crops in the open market. The changes in this nation of 60 million people, 85 per cent of them farmers, have led to a 100 per cent increase in production of principal grains since the 1990s. Some agricultural experts predict that Ethiopia could become self-sufficient in food production in a decade.

Ethiopia, which endured one of Africa's most devastating famines just 14 years ago and has constantly struggled to produce enough food for its people. Even today, farmers depend primarily on rain-fed crops, leaving them vulnerable to the vagaries of nature.

Last year, the country got too much rain and nee-ded thousands of tonnes of food aid from foreign governments and relief groups.
Yet no one is talking of famine. And, just as signi-ficant, the set-backs in agriculture did not send Ethiopia's economy tumbling. It still managed to grow by about five per cent.

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