Towards benefits commensurate with potential

As a country of over a 100-million population, Ethiopia has to implement an economic development program that can rapidly develop its economy through creating massive job opportunities, and maximize foreign currency earning through value addition, among others.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy in Ethiopia. In addition to being a source of revenue and means of subsistence for households, it also plays a considerable role in creating jobs, too. Hence, industrializing the sector will have a multiplier effect on the economic benefit for the country. Industry has also a lot of benefits in the economy. It helps in adding value, creating more benefit from the value chain and widening options for exportable items.

All these opportunities are widely available in Ethiopia. It is well known producer of cash crops like coffee, tea, sugarcane, cotton, fruits, vegetables … etc. So far it earns a limited amount of revenue from export of these cash crops. For instance it has earned about USD 1.4 Billion from the export of coffee grain annually for the last couple of years. As compared to the potential of the country to produce, add value and export coffee, this is a very small figure. The same is true in the case of the other items. The country is not earning adequate amount of revenue from its agro industrial potential.

Therefore the government needs accelerate its works in the coming years to maximize the benefits from the sector by promoting both the productivity of the agricultural sector and expanding agro industry and agro processing sector.

The development of agro-industries presents Ethiopia with an opportunity to accelerate economic development and achieve its overall industrial development goals. Accordingly, the government has been streamlining the development of Integrated Agro-Industrial parks in various parts of the country. This being an encouraging step, the works have to continue further in facilitating the operation of the IAIPs by strengthening the market linkage with local suppliers through promoting farmers and pastoralists unions, stretching infrastructure for smooth communication and transportation, among others.

In addition to boosting the volume of productivity, there is a need to work aggressively in improving the quality of the country’s agro-industrial outputs. Standardizing the quality of the produces is the best way to guarantee competitiveness in export market. To this end, the government needs to work on attracting as many foreign investors in the field as possible so as to contribute in harnessing the countries agricultural produces with innovative and state of the art technology and skills.

Emerging economic opportunities like membership in BRICS should also take into consideration. For instance, the country’s membership in BRICS can respond to the quest for huge amount of funding to expand infrastructure, facilities and financing for the sector.

Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular have not benefited from their resources. There are ample beautiful expressions that help us understand the wealth in Africa in a concrete way. For instance, many call the continent as “the treasure chest of resources,” but paradoxically, Africa is also a continent whose people are still languishing in poverty. In this regard, Ethiopia’s practical steps of luring FDI, knowledge and finance need to be more strengthened. This could leave lesson for the rest of the continent to detach from abject poverty.

The Ethiopia Herald September 14/2023

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