Friday, August 13, 2010

High Hopes for Ethiopian Ag Development

Ethiopia's next five year plan calls for continuing its 11 percent economic growth (at baseline, but they won't say no to a high estimate of 15 percent), doubling agricultural output, and not needing food aid within five years. The prime minister agrees that this is "ambitious" - repeated Mark Antony like here - but believes it is "doable."
A doubling of agricultural output, it says, is what will fire the growth. The government will urge investors to pump money into the sector and it will dole out more licenses for large-scale farms. It will also help millions of small-scale farmers — upon which the country relies — to access markets. ...

Still, Ethiopia is undoubtedly attracting some foreign investment in agriculture and oil and gas exploration and a small middle class is emerging. Even the IMF, though less optimistic than the government, predicts healthy growth of 7 percent this year.
He does not claim that no one in the country will be hungry, but that Ethiopia will be able to fund its own safety net programs and not require food aid outside of a catastrophe. I do hope this works out. I am encouraged by the importance being given longer term agricultural development, particularly by the government itself. I think it's a step in the right direction and hope that actions live up to the rhetoric.

Some of you may recall my earlier post on high hopes for Rwandan agricultural development. I was a touch more concerned there. The reason was that commentators and leaders had already declared victory. “We began this process feeling like a guinea pig,” the agricultural minister said, “but now we feel like a lighthouse.” Meles Zenawi, however, strikes a (probably overly) optimistic tone without declaring victory already. He's hoping for 50% more growth than the IMF projects, but even the IMF is bullish about prospects if 7 percent could be maintained.

These are the goals. They chose them. And quite frankly, they are less of a stretch than the MDGs.

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