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Political distortions cannot hide the benefits of agricultural investments

Political distortions cannot hide the benefits of agricultural investments

Since the fall of the dictatorial military regime in 1991, Ethiopia has developed a democratic system of governance. The new Constitution adopted and implemented in 1995 has produced a wide range of benefits in terms of economic prosperity, equality, peace and security and respect for human rights as well as democracy. The Constitution stipulates that sustainable development, equitably shared by all segments of the society, a democratic system of governance and management of all potential threats deserve simultaneous and careful political attention by the administration. All this, in fact, is fundamental for the creation of a prosperous Ethiopia, and the Government has implemented a series of policies and strategies aimed at building up the country's economic and human resources to achieve the defeat of poverty, to provide for economic prosperity and the establishment of a democratic system of governance.

One central factor in rapid and sustainable development has been the Government's "Agricultural Development Led Industrialization" (ADLI) strategy. Agriculture, of course, continues to be the foundation of the Ethiopian economy. It still averages over 40% of the total GDP, and employs over 80% of the population. So the three short-term development programs implemented during the last decade have all related to agro-development - the Sustainable Development Program to Reduce Poverty (SDPRP), the Program for Accelerated and Sustained Development to end Poverty (PASDEP), and, most recently, the Growth and Transformation Plan, 2011-2015, (GTP). These programs have played a major role in enabling Ethiopia to register double digit growth rates for almost all the last decade.

This growth has been particularly marked in the agricultural sector which has grown at an average of over 9% annually in the past decade. The main driver for this has been the emphasis laid by the Government on effective implementation of the PASDEP and the current GTP programs. The development programs, particularly those introduced under the GTP, have put  special emphasis on enhancing the productivity and production of smallholder farmers and pastoralists, strengthening market systems, improving the participation of the private sector in agriculture, expanding the amount of land under irrigation and reducing the number of chronically food insecure households.

The overall target for the agriculture sector is a minimum growth rate of 8.1% per annum up to 2015. Sub-sectoral targets include tripling the number of farmers receiving extension package services, reducing the number of safety net program beneficiaries from 7.8 million to 1.8 million households as they graduate into productive units, and more than doubling the production of key crops from 18.08 million metric tonnes to 39.5 million metric tonnes by the end of the GTP. Any GTP target is raising the country's emergency food reserve from 400,000 tonnes to 3 million tonnes. The overall aim is to ensure that the country will be food-sufficient and self-reliant by 2015.

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