Radar | Sep 10,2022
Feb 23 , 2019
By KALAEB GIRMA ( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) is preparing to build mechanisation centres in different parts of Ethiopia for an estimated cost of 130 million Br.
The mechanisation centres will rent, based on a fee determined by the size of farmlands, machinery such as tractors and equipment used for planting and harvesting of crops. It will also provide operators.
Though there has been a need for technology on farms in Ethiopia, most of the farmland is fragmented, making the use of mechanisation unpractical for individual farmers, according to Gebre G. Tsadik, mechanisation centre pilot project head at the Agency.
The Agency plans to overcome this hurdle by providing the services on cluster farmlands and allowing neighbouring farmers that grow the same crop to rent out the machines together.
The Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) is preparing to build mechanisation centres in different parts of Ethiopia for an estimated cost of 167.5 million Br.
Ten service centres will be built in four regions namely Oromia, Amhara, Tigray and the SNNPR, which were selected based on the kind of commodity and amount of productivity. “They have a record of surplus production,” said Gebre.
The mechanisation project is geared to support areas that produce wheat, barley, corn and sesame. “Teff was excluded since it was covered in other projects,” said Gebre.
The Agency began work on the project five months ago and has conducted research on which type of machine can be used for which type of land and crop. Agriculture contributes 34pc to the gross domestic product (GDP) in Ethiopia, employing over two-thirds of the workforce, and 72pc of the sector is made up of crop production.
Currently, the Agency is in the process of hiring an architectural firm to design the centres, each of which is estimated to cost 13 million Br. The centres will have a machine operation training centre, maintenance facility and shop for tractor spare parts.
“We want the centres to provide services to other machinery owners too,” said Gebre, who added that the management of the service centres would be outsourced to farmer unions and private organisations, and the Agency will play a regulatory role. “Outsourcing it to profit-making institutions can make it more effective.”
The non-governmental organisation to which the service centre is outsourced, which will be chosen through a bidding process, will finance 30pc of the cost of the construction, while the rest will be provided as a loan by ATA.
For the procurement of the machines, the seven-year-old Agency, established to facilitate agricultural transformation under the Ministry of Agriculture, has agreed with the Development Bank of Ethiopia. The Bank, which has pledged 30 million Br as loans, will cover 80pc of the cost of the machines through a loan, and the non-governmental organisation will provide the rest.
Experts in the area state the move by the Agency is to be applauded but note that such plans need careful implementation where checks and balances are employed.
“The outsourcing is beneficial but, in the future, more should be done to completely decentralise the centre and open a path to farmers or groups of farmers for direct ownership of the machines,” said Solomon Addisu (PhD), college dean for Bahir Dar University's College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences.
PUBLISHED ON Feb 23,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 982]
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