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The robe white gold in Ethiopia

By Teweldebirhan Wubneh Communication expert
Tigrai Online, August 26, 2015

Ethiopia consists mainly of a mountainous rugged central plateau dissected into different sections by deep canyons, especially those of the Blue Nile and Rift Valleys. The highlands are surrounded in almost every direction by deserts or semi- deserts.


The central plateau is cool, well watered and fertile land.  It is inhabited by a large number of different tribes and linguistic groups.  The terrain and climate vary considerably, roughly in accordance with altitude, though there are also differences, especially in rainfall pattern, between the northern and southern highlands.  A wide variety of  crops are  grown and there are vast  areas  of  natural  grasslands  where very  large  numbers  of  cattle  are  kept. Some of the most important crops are wheat, barley, sorghum, teff, coffee, several oil crops, and cotton.

Cotton is grown throughout Ethiopia at elevations above 1000 meters and below 1400 meters. Because most of the lowlands lack of adequate rainfall, cotton cultivation depends largely on irrigation.

Cotton production has long been underway in Ethiopia. Before the industrial revolution, large-scale commercial cotton plantations were developed in the Awash valley and the Humera areas. The Tendaho Cotton Plantation in the lower Awash Valley was one of Ethiopia's largest cotton plantations. Rain-fed cotton also grew in Humera and Arba minch.

Given its excellent growing conditions, abundance of raw materials and availability of land, Ethiopia has the potential to become a major global cotton producer but the cotton industry in Ethiopia as of 2011 is far behind that of the coffee industry and cereal production. However, the development of the textile industry is a priority of the Ethiopian government in its economic growth strategy and an important privatization initiative to attract foreign and private enterprises to develop the sector.

The  development  of  a  cotton  textile  industry  in  Ethiopia  based  upon  increased national  production  of  raw  cotton  is  gradually  taking  place. Cotton  has  been  grown  and  used  in  Ethiopia  since  ancient  times,  and  hand spinning  and  weaving  is  still  a  well  established  and  widespread  craft.  One  of the  Old  World  species  of  cotton  used  may  be  indigenous.  Ethiopia  is  one  of the  centers  of  variability  and  domestication  of cotton production and also  advanced  civilization  and  culture  has  existed  from  very  early  times.

The  geographic condition of the nation  is  considered to be one  of the important world  centers  of domestication of plants and  the  cultivated  plants  of  the  country are,  therefore,  of  considerable  interest. Cotton has been one of the more valuable and extensively grown crops of Ethiopia for a very long time.  An  old  and  well established  ‘cottage industry’  in  hand spinning and weaving  cotton  also  exists. All  of  the  raw  cotton  produced  in Ethiopia  is  consumed  by  the  cottage  industry.  This  cotton  is  produced in  very small  quantities  by  peasant  farmers  all over  the  country. These mills produce yarn and cloth, but much of the yarn is used by the hand weaving industry. 

The textiles and clothing industry is undergoing major development in Ethiopia, aided by the Presence of skilled and highly motivated workforce. This surge has been helped by the country’s impressive economic growth over the past years. Ethiopia is enormous export potential made possible by the wide availability of raw cotton and natural fibers and access to domestic and regional markets. The basis for the full cycle of business opportunities and the enormous growth Potential for the textile industries is the local production of cotton. Ethiopia has more than three million hectares of fertile land for cotton and only 6.7 percent is cultivated out of it. Large scale Production is carried out under irrigation, mainly in the Awash Valley, Omo-Gibe, Wabi Shebelle, Baro Akobo, Blue Nile and Tekeze river basins. The production of cotton is well integrated into the textile sector, with garment factories relying heavily on domestically produced Cotton. Available within Ethiopia are all essential ingredients for a competitive textile industry: raw materials, low wages and low energy costs. This gives the country a comparative advantage over other countries and regions. The Ethiopian Government is actively promoting the further modernization of the textile sector with the aim of attracting local and foreign investors that can penetrate the global market. In recent years, the global market has become increasingly accessible to countries such as Ethiopia. New export opportunities were created through initiatives such as AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunity Act), COMESA (the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa) and the many bilateral and multilateral trade agreements concluded with Western countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Ethiopia is also part of the “Everything But Arms” program that has been set up to provide access to the E.U. market for Lesser Developed Beneficiary Countries, free of duty and without quota restrictions, for all export products except arms.

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