Association Calls for Mechanization of Oilseed Crops

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Addis Ababa, August 5/2020(ENA) Ethiopia’s untapped oilseed crop production requires mechanized agriculture in order to sustainably increase export volume and foreign currency earnings from the sub-sector, according to Pulses, Oilseeds and Spices Exporters Association.

Association General Manager, Assefa Yohannes told ENA that mechanization is crucial to increase production of oilseeds and foreign currency earnings that have been dwindling for many years.

According to him, the country earned about 348 million USD last Ethiopian fiscal year by exporting 237, 636 tons of oilseed crops.

He blamed the unsatisfactory foreign currency earning on mainly low productivity and COVID-19.

As Ethiopia exports oilseeds to China, Israel, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected  export.

Post-COVID-19, however, situations will change. Thus Ethiopia has to boost oilseed crops production.

“The country has huge tracts of land. So, if we develop these our idle lands through commercialized farming, we can maximize the volume of production and foreign currency earnings,” Assefa noted.

The lack of productivity could partly be solved through mechanization in areas with irrigation potentials, expanding and cultivating new farm lands.

He pointed out that “a good example is sesame. We export about 300,000  tons of sesame annually. But the country has the potential to produce 1 million tons of sesame in a year, by increasing productivity, expanding production areas and discovering new farm lands.”

Sesame productivity per one hectare is low in Ethiopia when compared to other countries producing sesame, the managing director said.

There are undiscovered huge tracts of lands for sesame production in such places as Somali Regional, Assefa stated, adding that mechanized farming in these areas with irrigation potential could increase sesame production by three-fold.

He said the issue of quality product and value addition should also be considered to enhance market competition internationally.

According to the general manager, the export contract registration and performance directive introduced last Ethiopian year is helping address recurring export fraud and micro-economic imbalance.