ADDIS ABABA – The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors have approved on Tuesday an 80 million US dollars grant to support Ethiopia boost agricultural productivity and enhance market access for smallholder farmers.
According to the World Bank, agricultural growth was a key driver of poverty reduction over the past decade it accounts for 45 percent of total output and employs nearly 80 percent of the labor force.
Additional financing for the Second Agricultural Growth Project (AGPII) will further increase the economic potential of Ethiopia’s agricultural sector, the bank said.
“AGPII has made notable contributions to poverty reduction in Ethiopia. The project has been delivering solid results on the ground, especially in increasing productivity and enhancing commercialization,” said Vikas Choudhary, Senior Agricultural Specialist at the World Bank.
“Additionally, by promoting the use of irrigation, the project has enabled farmers to harvest two or three crops in a year; as opposed to a single crop under rainfed conditions, and diversify from cereals to high-value horticulture and nutritious crops,” said the Agricultural Specialist.
AGPII, specifically, has helped to increase access to agricultural services for nearly 1.4 million smallholder farmers (37% women).
It has also successfully promoted over 254 new agricultural technologies with a significant impact on crop productivity as well as climate-smart interventions.
Besides, the project has been instrumental in helping farmers adapt to climate change by completing 2,629 new small-scale irrigation schemes and upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure, which made possible the irrigation of 23,290 hectares of agricultural land.
The market infrastructure and value chain investments made under the project have been critical for connecting farmers with markets and enhancing commercialization.
These activities have resulted in substantial increases in yield per hectare and raised farmers’ incomes, the Bank said, apart from enhancing nutritional outcomes for farmers.
“While encouraging results have been achieved so far, more work is needed to address remaining challenges,” said Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia.
The challenges, according to Dione, include accelerate productivity gains, reduce exposure to erratic climatic conditions, decrease land degradation and enhance the natural resource base on which the sector depends.
This additional financing will help to address these challenges and is key to ensuring that Ethiopia’s agricultural sector reaches its full potential, the Bank said.
AGPII is implemented in 167 woredas (districts) in Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, Tigray, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Harari regional states as well as Dire Dawa city administration.
The project will directly benefit 1.6 million smallholder farmers, who live in areas with the highest potential for agricultural growth.
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