Ethiopia Achieves Near Self-Sufficiency In Barley Production, Slashes Imports By 78%

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News in brief: Ethiopia has achieved near self-sufficiency in barley production in under four years, reducing barley imports by 78% and doubling local farmers’ yields and incomes.

Ethiopia has recorded a milestone achievement by becoming almost fully self-sufficient in barley production. The feat, achieved in under four years, slashed barley imports by 78%. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) calls the achievement a transformation for the country’s agriculture.

Local farmers have nearly doubled yields and incomes. Additionally, the programme has increased smallholder earnings by 150% on average.

Ethiopian farmers have traditionally cultivated barley in the highland regions due to favourable climate. However, yields had been low because of reliance on traditional farming methods and restricted access to key resources. Insufficient supply networks have also been a challenge for farmers seeking reliable markets and incomes.

Ethiopian authorities, along with international agencies and stakeholders, began efforts to develop Ethiopia’s barley sector in 2018. They launched the initiative after data showed the country was importing a staggering 70% of the grains needed by its fledgling brewing industry.

Experts believe the country always had the potential to drastically cut imports being the fifth largest barley producer in Africa.

The scheme, a public-private partnership programme led by Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, has been a primary driver of this success. They achieved this by providing training, resources and markets to over 7,300 smallholder farmers.

Jean-Benoit Vivet, General Manager of Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, said that their strategy relies on building local supply chains to ensure enough barley for factories. The company now sources 100% of its needs locally as a result of its investments and farmer support models, as news this report says.

The IFC and Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) financed the project.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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