In drought & protest-smitten Oromia, TPLF anticipates huge agricultural harvests. Is it an attempt to cloud the political crisis? Or known TPLF fraudulence?

2 Jun

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 

Quoting the Oromo agriculture and natural resources bureau, the TPLF news outlet Fana reports that in the current agricultural season (Meher) in the Oromia state is expecting to harvest over 164 million quintals of agricultural products.

The bureau’s basis for such huge estimate is the distribution of large quantities of inputs. These include preparation of 371 thousand quintals of improved seeds. Of the total amount readied improved seeds, according to the news sources, to date the quantities in the hands of farmers is only 100 000 quintals.

It is also reported that the bureau has readied four million quintals of soil-based fertilizer for 5.9 million hectares of land that is expected to be covered by oilseeds. This is to be supplemented by 2.6 mil quintals of chemical fertilizers, of which 688 thousand quintals has already been distributed.

To finally improve productivity, the bureau has also trained farmers in modern agricultural production.

Nonetheless, not only the distribution of inputs is slow, there is no information whether the region distributed the agricultural inputs without cost to the impoverished farmers. That has been source of serious concern for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which since February/March 2016 has been campaigning on behalf of 900,000 farm households that across Ethiopia happened to be in need of emergency seed support.

In that connection the FAO warned, “failure to provide sufficient seeds for planting in May/June could limit late-2016 harvests, compromising the drought recovery in 2017 even if rainfall is adequate during 2016.”

On the other hand, the current drought has not left Oromia un-affected. Early warning for the period from February-May 2016 still foresee over ten million people requiring continued emergency assistance.

Moreover, flooding and landslides has been reported in parts of Oromia, including areas such as Fafan and Korahe zones in Somali, Gabi zone in Afar, Arsi and East Shewa zones and central Oromia Region, according to Fews.net.

It is also not clear at all, how in this situation the cost of the above agricultural inputs would be covered in a region where farmers were affected by the weather and political storms. For that matter, it is equally unclear how OPDO experts could anticipate such high agricultural outputs, when one reflects extent of the anger, resistance, loss of lives and destruction in the region.

Normally in Ethiopia, farmers are forced to take debt and buy a certain amount of fertilizers in particular as determined by government experts, and improved seeds too.

Fews.net forecast is of the view that significant livestock has perished and with it livestock support and productivity. Consequently, household access to food and cash income is also severely affected.

While the impact of areas not known for agricultural production may have little adverse effect, recall that, however, El Nino had affected even the country’s known agricultural central highland areas. As far as Oromia is concerned, central and eastern parts are the most affected.

Once could compare the impact of these events with data from the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency’s (CSA) on agricultural sample survey for 2011 Meher season (the only latest available). Clearly, it is inadequate to make sense out of it. This, therefore, is not particularly helpful, perhaps not only for the differences in the periods.

CSA puts the total Oromia agricultural production for Meher 2011 at 971,030 quintals of grain crops and 905,204 quintals of cereals, while the total national estimate of production of grain crops was 203,485,288 quintals and 177,613,366 quintals of cereals, respectively. The 2016 forecast is far
lower, barring data problems, which could be attributed to the adverse impact of the the drought.

God forbid that the food security needs of the nation could be far worse in the coming years than it has been; if that is the case, the lean seasons would upon the nation until the farmers regain lost capacities and assets and miracle creates improved agricultural productivity.
 

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