Archive for September 17, 2010
“We will be inking a deal with the Ethiopia government next month for getting at least 50,000 hectares of area for growing crops like pulses and maize, which will be exported to India and Europe,” Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers President Sukhjit Singh Bhatti told PTI here.
Bhatti will lead a delegation of 16 interested potato growers from Punjab to carry out farming in Ethiopia.
What encouraged these potato growers to try their hand at farming overseas was land availability at almost throwaway rates, duty free imports of capital goods and the zero duty on farm exports offered by Ethiopia.
“Unlike here, most of the agricultural land is with the Ethiopian government and it has offered us to acquire land on lease for a period ranging between 25 to 40 years at a nominal rate, which works out to Rs 400 per acre per annum in Indian currency. Moreover, we will not have to pay for the first five years of our operations,” he said.
Furthermore, the cropping pattern in Ethiopia is not that intense as it is in Punjab. “With less pressure on land there (Ethiopia), the soil will be suitable for growing pulses, maize and other cash crops,” he said, adding, “These crops will be exported to India and Europe.”
The Ethiopian government has also assured that it will not levy any duty on the import of machinery like farm implements and export of agricultural commodities.
The Ethiopian Ambassador to India led a delegation from Punjab to his country in the month of June and asked Punjab farmers to invest in farming. The Punjab farmers were shown three farm estates, including Oromia, Gambella and Ben Hul Gul by Ethiopian authorities when they visited the country.
According to Bhatti, the initial cost for farming in Ethiopia works out to Rs 1.5 crore per 100 hectares of land. “This cost involves spending on infrastructure, farm machinery and land development,” he said.
The idea of land cultivation in foreign country has also clicked with the Punjab government, as state-owned Punjab Agro plans to take eight farmers from the state to CIS countries including Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan next month to explore the possibility of cultivating land on lease and exporting fruits, vegetables, basmati rice, etc.
This year, the ambassadors of various African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda, visited Punjab and encouraged farmers of the state to till the land in their countries.
International finance corporation the World Bank’s private-investment arm started a loan-guarantee facility worth as much as $30 million for Nib International Bank SC to support Ethiopia’s coffee industry.
The guarantee is expected to result in lending to an additional 70 coffee cooperatives in the first year and the production of an extra 3,542 metric tons of beans and 2,000 jobs over three years, IFC said today in a statement handed to reporters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.
The guarantee will enable NIB to provide loans worth as much as $12.5 million for the 2010 coffee season, increasing to $25-30 million by 2013, according to the statement.
“This facility reduces NIB’s financial risk of lending to coffee-farmer cooperatives and will go a long way to strengthen NIB’s commitment to expand support to small farmers in the coffee sector in Ethiopia,” the bank’s president, Amerga Kassa, said in the statement.
Ethiopia, Africa’s largest coffee producer, earned $528 million from shipments of coffee in the year to July 7, according to Ministry of Trade and Industry figures.
The agreement should boost the cooperatives’ incomes by as much as 30 percent by providing working capital and allowing them to purchase equipment such as wet mills for processing high-quality coffee, IFC Resident Representative Aliou Maiga told reporters.
The deal will support the Ethiopia Coffee Initiative that is targeting 160 cooperatives representing 90,000 farmers. The program is run by Washington-based TechnoServe and funded by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The not-for-profit organization initiated the loan- guarantee facility and will help the cooperatives access credit from NIB and provide technical assistance, Michelle Buckles, TechnoServe’s East Africa Regional Credit Manager, said today in an interview.
By William Davison
China is taking steps to increase the volume of goods it receives from Ethiopia, the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency cited Chinese Ambassador Gu Xiaojie as saying.
China is using policy measures such as zero tariffs on products from developing countries and organizing trade fairs for Ethiopian exporters to improve the balance of trade for the Horn of Africa nation, Gu said in an interview, according to the Addis Ababa-based agency.
Trade between China and Ethiopia totaled $785 million in the first half of 2010, an increase of 27.6 percent from the same period last year, ENA cited Gu as saying.
The ambassador said exports to China from Africa’s largest coffee producer increased 163 percent to $215 million in 2009. The value of 1,230 Chinese investment projects in Ethiopia was $2.5 billion, he said.