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Ethiopian Government Starts the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency
to Double Crop Production

Tigrai Online
April. 28 2011

Ethiopia started an agricultural agency that plans to help double production in the economy’s biggest industry over the next five years, said Wonderad Mandefro, minister of state for agriculture.

The Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, or EATA, is modelled on economic development organizations in South Korea and Taiwan and will be overseen by a council chaired by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Wonderad said in an interview in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, yesterday.

“In the past five years, the country has made significant progress in sustaining agricultural production,” Wonderad said. “Compared to the potential, it’s still the tip of the iceberg.”

Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, is the continent’s biggest coffee grower. A five-year government plan to wean the Horn of Africa country off foreign aid aims to boost agricultural production by 14.9 percent annually. The industry accounts for 45 percent of economic output and employs about 80 percent of the population, according to Wonderad.

The agency was created after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was asked by Meles in 2008 to assess an Ethiopian program that provides support and equipment for farmers using so-called extension workers, Wonderad said. In partnership with international donors and agricultural-research organizations, the foundation was subsequently asked to assess other aspects of the industry, including irrigation, soil fertility and marketing. These will now be key areas of focus for EATA.