Cement industries to prioritize supply to irrigation projects

In order to complete the irrigation projects which are under construction in the lowland parts of the country per schedule, the government has instructed sugar industries to supply 802.972 quintals of cement. Based on the instruction, all cement industries are required to prioritize the projects in supplying their products.

According to the instruction from the Ministry of Mining, for the coming three months,beginning from the month of January 2021, they are required to supply cement products to the contractors who are engaged in building irrigation dams.

There are 19 irrigation dam projects in various parts of the country which are under construction. Among the major problems facing the projects is shortage of cement products. The Minister of Mining Takele Uma has given a mandatory order to the industries directly to supply through breaking the sluggishly functioning value chains.

The Minister on his letter requested to identify the contractor and the amount of cement he/she demands beginning from the month of January 2021 up to the end of March and the factories are requested to serve the contractors based on these procedure. The Minister wrote a letter based on discussion held together with the Minister of Irrigation and Arid Zones Engineer Aysha Mohamed and the Cement producer industries.

Due to the gap between demand and supply the market has been suffering from inflation and some fear that the supply of huge amount of cement to the 19 irrigation dam projects might exacerbate the shortage.

The Ministry of Mining announced that it will inspect whether the contractors obtain the cement in the coming three months direct from the industry and utilize it for the intended purpose or not.

Though the supply of the cement to the 19 projects intended to accomplish the construction of the dams in a speedy manner, the prevalent of sabotage and misconduct in the cement trade value chain might make the supplied cement find its way to illegal market. To resolve the problem that might arise, the Ministry of Finance is doing its level best.

According to the Ministry of Mining, some cement factories established unhealthy relations with cement distributors or agents and make contract to receive payment before supplying the products and such practices pose problem in creating market distortion.

Some sources also indicates that four cement industries took more than 2.6 million ton cement from customers as downpayment but failed to supply as per their contract. As the result, other customers wait for long to get cement product which intern hampered their business activities.

The unhealthy relation among cement industries and distributors contributes its share to inflation in the market.

To mitigate the problem, the Ministry of Mining gave warning to the cement industries to restrain from such misconduct.

According to the Ministry’s instruction, the cement factories are required to produce in their full scale and deliver what they pledged to provide their products to customers based on the agreement particularly to those whom they are indebted.

Ethiopia is an agrarian country with abundant water and land resources but the agriculture sector is predominantly rainfed and subsistence as the result, the nation is still food insecure and to balance the deficit, it has long resorted to receive food aid from donor.

Therefore, to reverse the situation to the better and to ensure food security, experts recommend that the expansion of irrigation farms in various parts of the country as a remedy.

In the modern history of the nation higher educational institutions particularly those focusing on agriculture were established some 60 years ago.

The Haromaya, Jima and Ambo agricultural colleges established in the imperial era. The agricultural educational institutions were also expanded in the socialist era, and even during the EPRDF time. However, though the number of graduates qualified in agricultural engineering and agricultural economics growing from year to year, their involvement in the sector is insignificant.

On the other hand, the absence of sufficient demand of skilled labor and viable market discouraged professionals to unleash their skills and knowledge. As the result, when some of them get opportunity for scholarship for advanced learning left their country and very few came back to and the rest get employment there.

According to experts, there are various constraints which has inhibitted water engineers not to engage by their profession. Among others, the reluctance of investors to put their money on the sector is the major one.

As it is understood that land is monopolized by the government. The land proclamation introduced by the Derg in 1975 is still working.

Though the proclamation confiscated land from land lords, it did not make peasants to own land. The proclamation declared that the land belongs to the government which nullified the transaction value of land. Farmers only have use rights on the land as the result they are still unable to get loan access from banks using their plot as collateral.

The monopoly of the government on land ownership made it the only agricultural investor on large-scale farming which intern limits jobs creation. Private investors have very little access to get agricultural farmland. In addition, the current ethnic based federalism makes the agricultural investment at risk. This again made investors to stay away from the venture.

Currently agriculture graduates prefer to engage in other fields rather than in what they have already been qualified.. They mostly serve in some international nongovernmental organizations as rural experts. Others have changed their profession including by earning another degrees in a different fields of study. Ultimately, it is the nation that loses.

Some 20 years back, the government had been introducing the practice of developing pond for irrigation purposes but it did not bring significant progress in attaining its objectives. Some ponds were tuned into the breeding hub of malaria and brought health risks to the communities.

In fact there are small-scale irrigation farm practices in various parts of the country but when they are evaluated, they do not meet their objective in increasing productivity and ensuring food security.

The nation is still food insecure country. The wheat produced at national level is unable to meet the demand as the result, the nation imports to balance the deficit. Wheat consumed as staple food in the highland parts of the country and it is also used as input for macaroni, pasta and bread factories but due to shortage of supply in the local market, the nation spends its meager hard currency for the importation of wheat.

Currently to substitute the imported wheat, the government is dedicated its time, meager resource for the cultivation of wheat both in the low and high land parts of the country through irrigation.

The farming is practiced by small-scale farmers through clustering form and the total annual production is reached to meet half of the nation demand and it is expected to substitute all the imported wheat.

However, to ensure food security, the irrigation farm practice should be replicated on other grains particularly the staple ones. On the other hand, to support the national economy through rising agriculture production, boosting agricultural investment through the involvement of private sector is essential. In fact, there are some efforts in cultivating large scale irrigation farm in the lowland parts of the country but is not sufficient.



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