The Ministry of Agriculture of Ethiopia aims to end wheat import of the country by introducing mechanized farming and helping smallholder farmers engage in irrigation agriculture. The plan was announced at a panel the Ministry of Agriculture organized in Addis Ababa at the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The panel focused on the role of intellectuals in transforming Ethiopian agriculture. Currently Ethiopia spent annually around one billion dollars on wheat and fertilizers imports. Ethiopian agriculture is still dominated by smallholder farmers who are engaged in raid fed agriculture though the country has huge potential for irrigation and mechanized farming.This year smallholder farmers have covered over 1.1 million hectares of land using irrigation, according to the ministry.
The ministry officials indicated that shortage of inputs including fertilizer, improved seeds and pesticides as some of the challenges Ethiopian agriculture is facing at the moment, in addition to backward farming techniques small holder farmers have been using for centuries. At the end of this harvest season the country expects harvest 374 million quintals of major crops, including wheat. Wheat accounts for the fourth largest share of total cereal production. Out of the total 1.1 million km² land size of Ethiopia, the cultivable land is about 13.2 million ha, or 12% of the total land area, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The cultivated land is about 6 million ha, or 45% of the cultivable area, and 5% of the total land area. Small-scale farmers occupy 96% of the cropped area, while the remaining 4% are cropped by State farms and Producers’ Cooperatives, according to FAO.