BY DARGIE KAHSAY
ADDIS ABABA – The Ministry of Agriculture has planned to produce five to seven million quintals of wheat, which is equivalent to half of the annual importing volume through summer irrigation covering over 300,000 hectares.
Agricultural Extension Director with the Ministry, Germame Garuma told The Ethiopian Herald that the country is working on producing five to seven million quintal of wheat via irrigation-this summer and it can entirely apply wheat import-substitution tasks within two years, and a pilot wheat development project through irrigation was done last year aiming at substituting wheat import with local productivity.
Germame further stated that wheat production through irrigation commenced last year on low-land areas has helped secure 40 quintals per hectare though it was undertaken as a pilot project. Ethiopia has a plan to cover over 300,000 hectares of land by Wheat through irrigation to increase the coverage this year, he said adding the wheat production through irrigation expands to semi-highland and highland areas.
The Director-General further noted that during the pilot level, Ethiopia tests the wheat production on 20,000 hectares of land and it gives green light to achieve the country’s vision of substituting the importing wheat within the shortest time possible.
Of the 300,000 hectare of land to be covered, some 145,000 hectare has already covered with crop during the first phase of the production and preparation continues for the second phase, said Germame.
Germame reiterated that the total wheat consumption of Ethiopia is 60 to 65 million quintals per annum and the amount of production reaches 50 million during the
Meher season employing the business as usual agricultural practice. This is being done in the country to fill the gap witnessed for over the last 50 years through important what at an unbearable cost, he noted.
All the required fertilizer and over 217,000 improved wheat seed has been distributed to producers to meet the set target, Germame noted. Oromia, Afar, Somali, and Amhara states are heavily engaged in irrigation based wheat production development adding that Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ State is under preparation to join the initiative.
According to him, Ethiopia is working to fully cover its local demand by local product within two years.
Meanwhile Germame noted that up to now, only small holder farmers are engaged in the wheat development through irrigation initiative, but these days local and foreign investors are showing interest in involving summer wheat irrigation projects.