afrol News, 14 July - According to Ethiopian government statistics, the country's key agricultural sector has grown at an annual rate of 10 percent over the past 15 years; much faster than population growth.
Ethiopia has periodic problems of feeding itself - best illustrated by the dramatic 1984-85 famine that spurred the international Live Aid action. Since that, the country has experienced similar droughts, which however not resulted in mass-killing famine.
According to Ethiopia's President Girma Woldegiorgis, this is both due to the country's economic policy shift and a strong growth in the agricultural sector.
Only since 1995, Ethiopia's agricultural sector has grown at an average rate of 10 percent each year - of course with periodic ups and downs according to annual rainfalls. But many of the country's farmers have also become more independent from rainfall, with many irrigation projects and wells being introduced.
At the same time, Ethiopia's population growth has dropped from the record level of 3.4 percent in 1992 to a still high current growth rate of 2.6 percent annually. Combined with the agricultural sector's growth, this means more food is produced per capita each year.
According to President Girma, Ethiopia's agriculture has grown faster for the past 15 years "following the favourable policies put in place and prime attention paid to the sector." A government shift towards free market economy had helped farmers invest in their lands.
At the same time, the Ethiopian economy has seen record growth rates for the last decade, improving the market for agricultural products and providing government with new revenues to invest in infrastructure.
The new figured were presented at an Addis Ababa event celebrating the tenth anniversary of the organisation Sasakawa Global 2000, which according to President Girma had plaid a major role "in transforming Ethiopia's agricultural sector and address food insecurity challenge."
President Girma presented awards to former US President Jimmy Carter and former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, thanking them for their contribution in the establishment of the organisation.
"When Sasakawa Global 2000 came to operate in Ethiopia, we were also reforming the misguided economy that lasted for almost two decades. The organisation's programme in Ethiopia was a timely call that greatly helped transform our agricultural sector. Soon after we embraced the approaches of the organisation, our cereal harvest exceeded 11 million tonnes in the year 1996," President Girma said.
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