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A renowned geneticist and agronomist cautions against Ethiopia adopting GMO crops

4 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

“Can we adopt GM technology here? It could be done in uniform topographic such as Canada and the US prairies, he said, adding, “but here in a country like Ethiopia, in a small-scale farming area that does not even cover one kilometer and the character of the soil and air varies, it would be practically impossible,” Dr. Melaku Werede said.

A renowned Ethiopian geneticist and agronomist has cautioned against the adoption of a genetically modified (GM) variety, saying that it could pose a serious threat to the tremendous genetic and biological diversity of the country. Dr. Melaku Worede, a plant geneticist and former Director of the Ethiopian Plant Genetic Resources Centre, said that any move to improve the agricultural inputs of the country should take into account the interests and desires of local farmers who have been maintaining and adapting their indigenous crop resources for centuries, and should not be imposed in a top-down fashion, he said in an interview with TechTalk With Solomon, a weekly technology TV show on Ethiopian Broadcasting Service (EBS).

Geneticist and agronomist Dr. Melaku Werede (Credit: Ethiopia Observer)

Melaku, 84, said that the preservation of indigenous seed varieties which he said are not only cost-effective for farmers but was the most sustainable way to develop agriculture should be an utmost priority. “Attempts to improve agricultural outputs should be done in collaboration with farmers, not by imposing it upon them. Let us explore the genes that we have on the ground first and make good use of it. Knowledge system and the material go hand in hand, he said.

“It is too risky to rely on seeds that have no local adaptation and built-in genetic diversity. Farmers should rather be helped to improve the genetic performance of crops than to be dictated to buy costly GM seeds.  In the context it is being developed and used, GMOs has a danger. It is a double-edged sword. “Let us be careful not to be a basket case,” he told the interviewer. “From the farmer’s point view, the yield was not the only criterion, farmers place also importance to diversity in seasons, topography, taste, specific harvest that could be used for specific cultural activities, and a number of things. For farmers, sustainability is an important criterion. They have developed the strategy to spread the risk between factors of season, location, and diversity.  So their varieties will have enough plasticity to allow them to grow in diverse conditions.” he said.

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ሕዝብን የወከሉ ሁለት ተቋማት “በሕገ መንግሥቱ ትርጉም ሂደት ላይ አልተደመጥንም” ሲሉ አቤቱታ አቀረቡ!

3 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

በሐይማኖት አሸናፊ

የኢትዮጵያ ሰብአዊ መብቶችና የዴሞክራሲ ዕድገት ማዕከልና ሴንተር ፎር አድቫንስመንት ኦፍ ራይትስ ኤንድ ዴሞክራሲ (ካርድ) የተሰኙት ሁለት የሲቪክ ተቋማት፤ የሕዝብ ጥቅምን በመወከል የምርጫ ጊዜ መዛወርን በሚመለከት በከሳሽነት ወይም በጣልቃ ገብነት ለመሟገት፤ ለሕገ መንግስት ጉዳዮች አጣሪ ጉባኤ ያቀረብነው አቤቱታ አልተደመጠም ሲሉ ቅሬታቸው አሰሙ።

ሁለቱ ተቋማት ግንቦት 13፣ 2012 ለጉባኤው በጣልቃ ገብነት ለመሟገት ማመልከቻ በማስገባት በጉዳዩ ለመሳተፍ መጠየቃቸውን ገልጸዋል። ይሁንና የአጣሪ ጉባኤው ጽህፈት ቤት በጉዳዩ ላይ ጭብጥ ይዞ ካለማከራከሩ ባሻገር “ማመልከቻውን ለመቀበሉ የደረሰኝ ቁጥር ወይም ሌላ ማረጋገጫ እንኳን ለመስጠት ፈቃደኛ አልሆነም” ሲሉ ተቋማቱ አስታውቀዋል።

አጣሪ ጉባኤው የጣልቃ መግባት ጥያቄውን ወደ ጎን ብሎ ሳያከራክር ወይም እንደ አማራጭ የባለሙያ ምክር የመስጠት ጥያቄያቸውን ወደ ጎን ማለቱን የተቋማቱ ተወካዮች ለ“ኢትዮጵያ ኢንሳይደር” በላኩት መግለጫ ጠቅሰዋል። “ለአጣሪ ጉባኤው አስተያየት ለማቅረብ በህግ ሶስተኛ ዲግሪ መያዝ ወይም በአጣሪ ጉባኤው መመረጥ አይገባም። ይልቁንም የሕገ መንግስቱ ባለቤት የሆነው እና ያገባኛል ያለ አካል ሊደመጥ ይገባ ነበር” ብለዋል።

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Pandemic is blessing for Abiy but curse for Ethiopian democracy

3 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Mebratu Kelecha

Prime Minister should not use the coronavirus crisis to consolidate power @Ethiopia Insight

Democracy has been the driving force of political movements in Ethiopia since the 1960s, but its protagonists have, all-too-often, indulged in violence and bloodshed. The political forces that emerged from the Ethiopian student movement of the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party and the All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement (MEISON) called for democracy but engaged in mutual assassination in its name before the military regime decimated both parties.

The military regime also claimed to have pursuing “socialist democracy” in a later period of its rule. The TPLF-engineered EPRDF regime which came to power in 1991 introduced “electoral democracy,” but remained a minority ethnic dictatorship, expelling potential rivals and regularly accusing  any critics and opposition parties of being anti-democratic.

In the end, the TPLF was confronted with Frankenstein moment, as resurgent groups within the ruling coalition it has created in the 1990s captured the centre and caused the creator’s trouble, aided by street protests that helped propel Abiy Ahmed to power. Political differences among those claiming to be fighting for democracy, both in and out of elections, frequently, almost normally, embraced violence rather than votes, reinforcing what they claimed to be irreconcilable differences between good and evil. Demonization, harassment, imprisonment, torture, and physical elimination have continued as major mechanisms to resolve differences. Hence, the struggle for it has done little to develop or maintain the reality of democracy since a democratically elected government remains the deprioritized goal of political leaders.

When Abiy took office in April 2018 he promised to build a democratic Ethiopian state, and his early reforms were promising, though the political transition he launched, while largely nonviolent in origin, involved  hostile  rhetoric against the TPLF.  From the outset, Abiy faced significant challenge of governing and implementing changes in conditions of continuing instability, testing his capacity, and his intent, to govern effectively and carry out democratic reforms simultaneously. A successful response required significant mobilization of support needed to consolidate the achievements of his early reforms to guarantee a successful transition. The country’s recent experience of nonviolent resistance, which brought Abiy to power, has made it clear that repression is no longer an option as it will not create a submissive population, and any return to dictatorship can only intensify protests.

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GMO debate is democratic test for liberalizing Ethiopia

3 Jun

Posted By The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

by Teshome Hunduma

As the government controversially opens Ethiopia to genetically modified crops, now is the time for newly unshackled civil society voices to lead the debate @EthiopiaInsight

This echoes worrying trends elsewhere. Debates on GMOs across the globe have suffered from high levels of polarization, often disintegrating into a battle between modernization and farmers’ rights. In reality, smallholder farmers’ interests and needs often lie somewhere in between. Ethiopia now has the opportunity to show global leadership by bridging this divide. To do this, Ethiopia must nurture a respectful and balanced debate that can be the foundation of a much-needed institutional framework to regulate GMOs.

A coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations and their global allies have launched a campaign against the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms in Ethiopia.

The public outcry started when United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service published a report that revealed that the government had approved commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) insect-resistant cotton (Bt-cotton) and confined trial of GM enset and maize in Ethiopia.

In 2015, the Ethiopian parliament opened up the country to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by loosening the safeguards built into a 2009 biosafety law. Three years later, the government approved commercial cultivation of a strain of cotton.

Despite this, there has been limited public debate or media coverage. Yet, the moves broke with decades of Ethiopian public policy and have major implications for Africa as a whole.

The Ethiopian approach was praised in the above-mentioned report published in February 2020: “approval of commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) insect-resistant cotton (Bt-cotton) and confined field trail on GM maize can be taken as an effort to improve agricultural productivity using modern agricultural tools.”

Pleased with the government’s deeds, the report went on to state that the country’s “adoption of Bt-cotton not only has [high] economic importance but [is] also expected to have [a] positive influence on the acceptance of this technology in the region.”

Criticizing the government for its past precautionary approach to GMOs, the report says Ethiopia is now on track “especially considering that a decade ago the country was at the forefront of the anti-GMO movement in Africa.”

The USDA’s appreciation of Ethiopia’s policy change may well be driven by a strategic interest for the U.S. and its multinationals to use Ethiopia as a springboard to expand GMO cultivation in Africa.

Despite GMO establishment of various crops in South Africa since the late 1990s, expansion elsewhere on the continent has thus far been restricted to four out of the 47 countries, and with the exception of South Africa, limited to Bt cotton.  However, there are indications that this may change. While recent droughts have led Zambia and Zimbabwe to lift bans on importation of GM maize for consumption, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda seem to be the new target countries for expanding GM production. Uganda has allowed trials for genetically modified banana in last few years. Rwanda is considering opening up to genetically modified potato.

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Ethiopia Must End Culture of Impunity to Heal from Decades of Human Rights Violations!

2 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

TEO Editor:

As a citizen, my view is that the Ministry of Peace has become too weak and putative to deliver what its name promises. This was seen and proved during ministerial meet, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister during discussion on the Covid-19 State of Emergency implementation.

Already the office of the Attorney General had a bad start with its first occupant Abiy Ahmed appointee leaving the post to become ambassador to Australia—not a reward for a job reportedly mishandled. Likewise, the new AG assumes her task is dispensing justice, but not what the nation’s law says.

This showed the country is not ready to move forward from its decades of human rights quagmire, in the face of the AG Adanech Abebe’s reaction to the advice and suggestion the nation’s Human Rights Commissioner offered on his office’s Facebook.

The AG reacted on 25 May, among others, tweeting: “ኮሚሽኑ የሚያወጣቸው መግለጫዎች ተገቢነት የላቸውም።”

All that the Commissioner had done, consistent with his responsibilities, to issue a statement that this ministerial committee members found annoying. All that the Commission did was emphasising the need for full respect for the human rights of citizens, in accordance with core principles Ethiopia has accepted. Unfortunately, the police spend their days mistreating citizens, clubbing them around town or in prisons!

It appears we all are in post-Abiy Ahmed’s 2018 promise that now is being sarcastically referred on the social media as the Abiy Ahmed “አሻግራችኋለሁ” pledge!

For our own sakes, we need to move forward, show respect to each other. Only then can our human rights be respected and our country’s progress begins!

===000===

by Haben Fecadu* Addis Standard

But human rights violations did not end with the ouster of the Derg in 1991. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) which took over leadership in 1991 also carried out serious violations—such as arbitrary detentions, torture, rape and enforced disappearances.

Again, in what seems like a repeat of history, Ethiopian youth were angry at systemic human rights repression and economic and political marginalization. They took to the streets and protested in vast numbers and in a sustained manner until there was a change of Ethiopian leadership in early 2018. This paved the way for the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and a new Ethiopian leadership.

 

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Bereft of Popular Mandate, Hard to Keep the State Viable

2 Jun

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Addis Fortune Editorial, May 31, 2020

Two years ago, standing before parliament, Prime Minister Abiy acted and sounded like a leader ready to offer the country a break in an inclusive future.

Alas! He would later on charge the very parliament that installed him as Prime Minister of having questionable legitimacy. The swearing-in speech was perhaps his most significant performance, carefully delivered to herald the coming of a more refined and prosperous future while also walking a fine line to convey that the foundation for this would be the preservation of the status quo.

Running a state that has no functioning democratic, if not credible, institutions, or the social infrastructure to accommodate rapid changes with several orders of magnitude, is more complicated than is advertised by many in the opposition. Attempting to do this without a clear mandate might have been a tall order. It was no different for Prime Minister Abiy, and each year has brought fresh challenges that are compounding to pose an existential threat to the Ethiopian state.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has come a long way since his spectacular arrival at the top of Ethiopia’s political scene. In 2018, few would have predicted a state of political uncertainty would, in combination with economic, social and natural disasters all coming together, evolve to unravel almost every facet of life. The Prime Minister is as much to blame as the slew of unprecedented challenges that were visited upon the country.

Two years ago, standing before parliament, Prime Minister Abiy acted and sounded like a leader ready to offer the country a break in an inclusive future.

Alas! He would later on charge the very parliament that installed him as Prime Minister of having questionable legitimacy. The swearing-in speech was perhaps his most significant performance, carefully delivered to herald the coming of a more refined and prosperous future while also walking a fine line to convey that the foundation for this would be the preservation of the status quo.

Running a state that has no functioning democratic, if not credible, institutions, or the social infrastructure to accommodate rapid changes with several orders of magnitude, is more complicated than is advertised by many in the opposition. Attempting to do this without a clear mandate might have been a tall order. It was no different for Prime Minister Abiy, and each year has brought fresh challenges that are compounding to pose an existential threat to the Ethiopian state.

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Amnesty International’s Report: Beyond Law Enforcement: Human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara & Oromia Regions

29 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The political reforms introduced in Ethiopia by the government in 2018 presented the country with an opportunity to break with its abysmal human rights record marred by extrajudicial killings, torture and other ill-treatment and enforced disappearance among other serious human rights violations.

Notable among the reforms was the release of thousands of political prisoners, allowing the return of opposition politicians from exile and registration of their political parties in the country, and the repeal of repressive laws such as The Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-terrorism Proclamation that had been used by past governments since 2009 to paralyze local media, civil society and opposition political parties.

While initial first steps have been taken towards improving the human rights environment in the country, a persistence of old-style patterns of violence perpetrated by the security forces threatens to derail sustained long-term gains.

Amnesty International conducted research into the Inter-communal violence that took place in the Amhara and Oromia regions of the country in 2019 and found that members of the Ethiopian Defence forces, regional police special force, local administration officials and allied militia armed youth and vigilante groups carried out serious human rights violations in parts of Oromia and Amhara regions in the zones of East Guji and West Guji in Oromia, Regional State and the West Gondar and Central Gondar zones of Amhara Regional State.

Researchers found that security forces deployed in the two Guji zones in Oromia carried out extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, forced evictions, and destruction of property. In Amhara region, they discovered evidence that the Regional special police units and local administration militia were complicit in inter-communal violence between the Amhara and Qimant ethnic communities in West and Central Gondar.

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ቪዥን ኢትዮጵያ ሃገሪቱ ከዐባይ ድርድር እንድትወጣ መከረ! ለምን?

27 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

 

 

 

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