By Zekarias Woldemariam
After years of efforts to mechanize all crop productions of the country, the government has succeeded to come up with mechanization machinery for the production of Teff, the country's principal staple food crop.
The planting harvesting and threshing machinery developed by the joint efforts of Ministry of Agriculture and National Resources (MoANR) and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization and Sciences (CAAMS) is believed to reduce time, labor and crop wastage in the production of Teff.
Agriculture is the mainstay for majority of Ethiopia population. The government has also been pursuing an agriculture development led industrialization policy for more than 26 years now.
As a result it has been able to raise the country's agricultural productivity from only 50 million in 1991 to 290 million in 2015/16. Teff is a traditional and typical staple food in Ethiopia. The most common staple food of the country, injera is made from it.
Out of the 290 million quintals 45 million is teff and is consumed by about 50 million people in the country. It is also harvested from about 3 million hectares of land.
One of the measures that the government took to raise agricultural productivity is agricultural mechanization. Even though it is still fledgling, mechanization has helped in raising the pre, while and post production of many of the food crops in the country. Teff was however an exception.
Other food crops like wheat and barley are harvested and threshed with machinery which the country imports from other countries or assembles locally. But these machines cannot harvest and thresh teff which is a very small grain and not suitable to be harvested with the same machine. Since the machinery development technology is not available locally the country has to collaborate with other countries.
Accordingly, Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR) and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization and Sciences (CAAMS) in collaboration with other donors have developed mechanization facility for teff.
CAAMS has recently handed over the machinery recently to the Ministry, it was indicated that the combined harvester can harvest and thresh a hectare of teff in 5 hours. The machinery are designed and manufactured with small holder farmers in mind and can replace labor of 40 people.
But officials of the ministry indicated that the government is applying a cluster system of farming where small holder farmers join their lands and engage in the production of crops. With the current capacity of the machines to harvest a hectare in 5 hours, the current capacity should be raised to cover the needs of the cluster small holders.
CAAMS elaborated the possibility of manufacturing bigger machinery with better capacity as per the needs of the farmers.
It was also indicated that there is a plan to test the effectiveness of the machinery on the field and establish an assembly plant here in Ethiopia so as to durably address the need for after sales service like maintenance and spare parts.
The mechanization is a major breakthrough in raising the productivity of the country's highly consumed staple crop which also plays meaningful role in raising the income and living standard of farmers, cost of living for consumers and the economy of the country.