Experts in the leather sector contend that the effects of technology transfer on the leather industry have been positive, in terms of improving productivity, and in elevating the sector into manufacturing high value products.
Despite Ethiopia's abundant resources in cattle population, whose skins and hides are the basis for some of the world’s best leather, the country has utilized so little of it so far. And various studies and experts have argued that the success of the leather sector of Ethiopia hinges, among others, on its ability to boost technology adoption/transfer.
According to Abdissa Adugna, General Secretary of Ethiopia Leather Industries Association (ELIA), technology transfer has played a role in the country’s move from exporting semi-processed items towards exporting finished leather products.
He states that technology transfer has helped elevate the sector from producing semi-processed leather products to manufacturing high value products. This comes as a result of the technological improvement that took place within the sector.
The low level technology involved/utilized in the sector has been elevated, resulting in increase in productivity. “The leather products we now export are finished products, unlike ten or some odd years ago, where we used to export semi-processed leather goods. We have now reached a level where we export leather wardrobes/garments, gloves and other leather products.”
Although that much needs to be done in terms of improving productivity and taking the technology level to higher level, says Abdissa, the sector is now at a satisfactory level compared to past times.
He notes that pertinent stakeholders shouldn’t sit on their laurels considering the ever-growing sector, and demand in the global market. It is hard to say that it will be enough for the times ahead, there are works that need to be done to further improve in terms of using modern technology and bypass the challenges, he concludes.
The government of course has been committed to combine modern technology to bypass the bottlenecks facing the sector, which culminated in the setting up of Leather Institute Development Institute (LIDI).
Established to trigger rapid development within the domestic industries by facilitating technology transfer, the Institute believes there has been headway made in terms of augmenting the sector's productivity and competitiveness.
Institute General Manager, Wondu Legesse, says that the Institute is carrying out development and transfer of leather products' technology through four packages with various positive outcomes.
He says one way the Institute transfers technology is by developing and transferring new design and products as a package to leather industries that are already in the export business or have a potential to do engage in.
In addition, the Institute also develops and transfers machinery to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through reverse engineering technique.
The Institute identifies the machinery requirement of SMEs, especially those which are expensive and can be manufactured locally, and then transfer them so that the enterprises produce better quality and improve their productivity with this technology backup, explains the General Manager.
“And in this regard, on top of the successful development of some critical machines, seven machines needed for footwear production have been developed.
Wondu also mentions the linkage between FDI and local industries as one platform used by the Institute to facilitate technology transfer within the sector. “Though the numbers of investments that have joined the sector are limited, the ones who have already joined are big in size.”
The companies have an integrated facility to produce footwear, which includes the outsole, mold and last production and these are the gaps that the local industry faces, he adds.
Furthermore, he notes that given that linkages are made not only by supply of products, but also through provision of technical know-how, some local industries have started producing some of these items, having used the technical and technology transfer facilitated by the Institution.
On top of helping local industries produce higher quality with improved productivity, whilst becoming competitive in the global market, he opines that technology transfer tangibly foster the economy in general, serving as a catalyst for cross-sectoral linkage among metal engineering, plastic engineering, and petrochemical industries.
Addis Ketema, Director of Leather and Footwear Research and Monitoring at Ministry of Industry, for his part zooms on disentangling the positive effect of technology transfer on the productivity of domestic leather firms from FDI.
When attracting FDI, one of the objectives is to transfer technology, as professionals that work under them are provided with training, he explains.
Further hammering the role of foreign investment in generating technology spillovers to domestic firms, Addis highlights the positive role industrial parks that are being built in the country can play in developing and transferring leather product technologies, and thereby boost skills formation.
As foreign investors get involved in industrial parks, they will have the opportunity to create job opportunities for the youth, where the chance for our unemployed youth to increase their skills and knowledge will be high, he says adding the fact that technology is transferred when they are able to work practice and master what they have learned or acquired.
Next, the move will be to open up their own footwear and leather goods businesses and industry as their capacity and capital blossoms.
To this end, the Director cites Huajian - one of the largest shoe exporters in China - as an example. The company sets up its factory in Ethiopia in 2011 with a plan to invest 2 billion USD in developing manufacturing clusters focused on shoemaking for export.
But for Addis, in addition to the heavy investment and job creation, what caught his eyes is its effect in generating technological spillover to indigenous leather industries. “It is with seeing the country's leather industry potential attract such kind of heavy investment that I say the sector has a bright future ahead of it.”
BY ROBEL YOHANNES
ADDIS ABABA - Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected U.S. Congress resolution 128 - a human rights-centered resolution against the Ethiopian government - claiming it untimely and inappropriate.
Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem told The Ethiopian Herald yesterday that the government of Ethiopia remains committed to its citizens in promoting accountability, justice, freedom, and the rule of law.
The Spokesperson added that the Ethiopian government has been exerting its utmost efforts to step up the protection and promotion of human rights and advance good governance as these are pillars to the democratization process of the country.
Over the past several months, the ruling party and the government of Ethiopia have been operating under new political dynamics, launching bold reforms aimed at increasing transparency and widening the country’s democratic space. Some of these initiatives include releasing prisoners, and working on stabilizing the situation in the region.
Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed was sworn in last week and expressed the political will of the leadership to urgently undertake the multifaceted reforms that could address the grievance and concerns of the society in short course of time, as to him.
This momentum has created optimism in the country encouraging the leadership to embark on a promising future. “That is why the government of Ethiopia believes H.Res.128 is untimely and inappropriate.”
At this crucial juncture, when the government is working to implement bold reforms, this resolution tries to undermine the new political dynamism and fails to recognize the call made by the Prime Minister to create all inclusive political platforms.
While Ethiopia values its bilateral relations with the United States and works to promote regional peace and security in the Horn of Africa, the resolution undermines its sovereignty, the Spokesperson noted.
The relation between Ethiopia and the US is based on common interest, sovereign equality and mutual benefit. The government of Ethiopia recognizes the right and duty of the US congress to pass any resolution; however, the resolution has no validity as far as Ethiopia is concerned, the Meles underlined. “It has no impact whatsoever. It has nothing to do with the State Department and it has nothing to do with the White House. It is just the opinion of members of the congress.”
Further, the Spokesperson stated that the resolution is counterproductive and it stands against the important partnership between Ethiopia and US. Members of the house who cosponsored the resolution conspicuously failed to recognize the changing reality on the ground.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW
ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia and Brazil signed Investment Promotion Agreement to boost economic and investment cooperation yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
During the first Ethio-Brazil Bilateral Consultation organized at state ministerial level, representatives of the two sides revealed that the two countries’ bilateral relations have been growing and strengthening from time to time in various social, political and economic arenas.
Hirut Zemene, MoFA State Minister for Political Affairs on the occasion said the two sides had a very fruitful exchange of ideas in the first political consultation mechanism.
“We are very grateful for the Brazilian delegation to make their successive visits in the continent, their first visit being in Ethiopia,” she said.
As to her, the two countries have made step ahead in boosting their bilateral cooperation through signing the Investment Promotion Agreement.
Ethiopia values the two countries very long standing cooperation that dates back to 60 years; she said adding, Ethiopia has very good south-south cooperation in the multilateral arena.
Ethiopia and Brazil share very similar features as south- south countries, fantastic coffee producers, and in multilateral cooperation platforms, she noted.
“We are very hopeful that the discussion we have in terms of expanding investment, trade, cooperation in agriculture will come to fruition,” Hirut said. “And we will continue to collaborate in multilateral arenas in the interest of developing countries and the position of south-south linkages.”
Ambassador Fernando Jose Marroni De Abreu, Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Under Secretary General for Africa and Middle East, on his part said that the two countries have excellent relations in many areas but one that was missing was political consultation.
“We signed agreement previously and decided to start a serious of very fruitful discussions,” the Ambassador said mentioning Ethiopia’s investment potential. “We also signed agreement for the cooperation and facilitation of investments in agreement that would support further investment in Ethiopia and enable Brazilian companies to come to Ethiopia and vice versa.”
As to him the two sides also discussed technical cooperation projects being implemented in Ethiopia mainly in forestry area and acidic soil treatment.
“We have also discussed about issues in the multilateral arena and common views regarding regional and global challenges,” he added. “We also concluded that we have huge potential that has to be fulfilled.
The Brazilian delegation has also extended invitation to Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, to visit Brazil.
Hirut responded to the invitation saying; “We consider seriously the visit extended to our Minister to visit Brazil.”
BY ESSEYE MENGSTE
ADDIS ABABA – Gullele Botanic Garden said it has been gathering and supplying plants that are utilized in traditional medicine to promote alternative systems of medicine as health care services.
According to Professor Sebsebe Demissew, Gullele Botanic Garden Executive Director, the Garden is working to integrate alternative systems of medicine treatment by creating smooth relationship with traditional medicine practitioners with knowledge of plant species that are utilized for medical purposes.
The Garden has been exerting efforts to work with practitioners by conducting research to conserve endangered plant species and promote alternative treatment.
Gullele Botanic Garden has been collecting various plant species from all across the country. So far, it has collected more than 1000 plant species, of which some 146 are utilized for medical purposes, he added.
And to enhance and develop the useful aspects of traditional medicine, relevant researches and studies are ongoing to explore the possibilities of its gradual integration into modern medicine.
According to the Director, the Garden has given due emphasis to integrating traditional medicine with modern medical practices by engaging indigenous communities with knowledge of traditional medicine.
Birhanu Belay, Research Works Coordination Directorate Director at the Garden told The Ethiopian Herald that collaborating with traditional medical practitioners and collecting and protecting medical plant species have also economic advantages.
According to him, 80 percent of Ethiopian population uses traditional medicine due to the relatively lower cost, besides the cultural acceptance.
Hence, it is salient to modernize and integrate the widely used traditional medicine with scientific methods, he stressed.
“Prior to modern medicine and the development of health system, traditional healers have been giving various services, treatments and curative medicines for a long period of time,” he said.
“Hence, the integration of traditional medicine healers and modern researchers will play an important role being input for one another in sharing knowledge, extraction of medical plants and determining the dosage.”
The Garden has also given due emphasis to facilitate traditional medical practices’ transfer of knowledge to the coming generation.
As to him, unlike in the past, the government has given due emphasis to working with traditional healers and the transfer of such knowledge to the next generation and research on the area.
However, currently, the number of established botanic gardens in Ethiopia is very few. That is why it is planned nationally that every city and higher learning institutions would develop its own botanic garden in the future, Birhanu indicated.
Mengistu Desta, Addis Ababa Traditional Medicines Healers’ Association Secretariat on his part added that these days traditional medicine healers are getting legal protection and recognition from concerned parties. They have also been encouraged to develop their knowledge through scientific methods.
He also affirmed their readiness to work closely with modern medicine practitioners.
However, access to finance, plant species as well as lack of coordination among stakeholders and areas to develop plants and services are among the major challenges in modernizing traditional health care services, as to him.
Medical products certification and issues of trust, ownership and patent right are also other challenges that are hindering collaborative work, he added.
Some 80 traditional medical practitioners are legally licensed in the capital alone, The Ethiopian Herald learnt.
BY TSEGAYE TILAHUN
Rife with challenges such as limited financial and local capacity and unavailability of advanced technologies, the printing sector is looking to undertake remedial action that would change its fortunes for the better.
One of the main issues that have been engulfing the sector has to do with printing raw materials, which, due to high operational cost and other related factors are being imported.
As a result, Ethiopia has not able to fulfill the ever increasing demand for printing materials, Ethiopia Printers and Publishers Association says.
The Association's President Teka Abadi indicates that so far the Association has conducted various researches based on the challenges the sector has been facing, and discussed the issue with various stakeholders and put forward way-out strategies.
“We have also identified low government attention as a bottleneck for the development of the sector. Accordingly, we are expecting the government to take positive measures that would facilitate the sector's development.”
Many investors have a tendency to engage in the printing sector, he says, but dearth of raw material, absence of foreign currency to import raw materials, shortage of skilled manpower, and above all, lack of incentive to attract investors to engage in the sector have made the sector uninviting.
Andualem Legesse is the Acting Director of Pulp, Paper Packaging Industries at the Chemical Inputs Development Institute.
Recognizing that skilled manpower is one of the main bottlenecks for the sector’s development, he says, since its inception, the Institute has been assisting the sector by building manpower capacity and developing occupational standard and educational curriculum.
Double taxation on raw materials is the other challenge yet to be resolved. Given that decision-makers can solve this issue through research, efforts have been exerted by Ministry of Industry and MoFED to remedy the issue of double taxation once and for all, he adds.
The Institute has also been working aggressively to enhance market linkage between local producers and international industries. It also gives advice to companies to focus on international market rather than targeting local consumers.
It has also conducting study on packaging industry jointly with Industry Project Service and Industry Ministry. The study depicts that the sector need to grow four times over by the end of 2020.
The study projected that other industries will show great progress; and thus the packaging industry will be high in demand. In a bid to attain the aforesaid vision, the Institute has been introducing investment opportunity for local and international investors.
Legal and Policy Affairs Adviser with Ethiopian Investment Commission, Fantu Farise says that if there was an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing the printing industry, and solutions to address the identified problems, there would be no reasons that prohibit the industry from flourishing.
“For this to happen, undue support from the stakeholders is highly needed to enhance the industry and change the opportunities into tangible benefits.”
When population size and economic growth increases, inevitably, the demand for printing materials also increases. And if published materials are not produced with local capacity, the demand would only be fulfilled by imported products.
About 60 percent of the product demand is covered by imported products. So far, over 90 percent of the raw materials are also imported.
Local investors are highly encouraged to invest in the sector ,Fantu says adding, accordingly 1,000 companies are engaged in the printing sector, but few companies are competing with international products.
As the industry is capital intensive, it requires the presence of advanced technology. That is why only few investors are engaged in pulp production. But it needs some improvements in terms of providing products with the required quality and quantity, as to Fantu.
The government has facilitated some incentives for investors who show interests to engage in paper industry. But, the sector requires wide-ranging support from government side. To solve the problem various stakeholders have been undertaking various activities. But here concerted effort is required to better manage the sector.
Andualem further says that some projects in the pipeline are expected to bring changes in paper production industry.
Yekatit Printing Works Private Limited Company is case in point. The company has allocated 1.9 billion birr to buy advanced machinery for paper production. When it becomes operational, it would address 90 percent of raw material demand.
By and large, as it is stipulated in the research that the attention given to the sector is very minimal. This sector has its own contribution to the industry, and by understanding the benefit the country would gain or lose, the government should give serious attention to the sector.
BY GIRMACHEW GASHAW and TSEGAYE TILAHUNE
Ethiopia aspires to use its human resource and agricultural potential as springboard in its quest to industrialize. The Agriculture Development Led Industrialization policy mainly targets to exploit the potential of the agriculture sector as sustainable supplier of inputs to newly flourishing industries. In this regard, the strategy to give special focus to the textile and apparel as well as leather and leather products subsectors is a bold move.
Ethiopia’s industrial policy prioritizes the two subsectors in light of agricultural-led, export-led and labor-intensive industrialization ambition. This policy choice, particularly of the textile and apparel, was also applauded by renowned international journals including the Wall Street Journal which in 2014 declared that Made in Ethiopia will be the next Made in China.
The construction of industrial parks, one of the priorities of the five year Growth and Transformation Plan I and II is the demonstration to the fact that such industries have received due attention. While some of the state-of-the-art industrial parks such as Bole Lemi II and Hawassa Industrial parks are built specifically for textile and apparel, almost all the rest have place for textile and garment industries besides others, such as vehicles assembly and food processing.
Textile industries both inside and outside of the industrial parks have attracted the interests of global companies with renowned international brands, putting the country in the right path to become an important hub for the industry.
Contrary to past experiences, the textile subsector has now started to generate significant amount of foreign currency as the number of textile and apparel industries has now reached more than 200 in few years time. The sector has grown at an average rate of 51 percent, and more than 65 textile investment projects have been licensed for foreign investors in the last five to six years. And in the past eight months of this fiscal year alone, the country has managed to earn some 65 million USD from the textile subsector. _
These encouraging performance is attributable to continuous improvement in the production capabilities of domestic firms and more importantly due to the performance of renowned international companies that have invested in Ethiopia.
The leather and leather products subsector is also prioritized to bring about structural change, taking the fact that the country possesses the largest livestock herd in Africa, and the 10th largest in the world.
For long, the main leather-related export items of Ethiopia have been low value-added hides and skins. That is why the government has given due emphasis to value chain and producing high value-added finished leather. The subsector has also strong backward linkages to the agriculture sector which is the mainstay of the majority of Ethiopians. With this, the government is planning to transform rural lives.
Besides, prominent international companies are also investing in the sector. This is facilitating knowledge and technology transfer, besides generating forex earning. For instance, with a plan to invest some two billion USD, Huajian, one of the largest shoe exporters in China, setup its factory in Ethiopia in 2011 with a focus on shoemaking for export.
Further, the two subsectors would also prompt the growth of light manufacturing industries which is labor intensive and create large amount of jobs. And this why they are considered important for technologically less advanced developing countries with huge labor force but lack capital.
In general, if the policy is implemented properly by getting rid of bottlenecks and solving issues related to quality raw materials, the textile and apparel as well as leather and leather products subsectors would ultimately help in bringing about the desired structural transformation.
Political independence has not brought the desired changes in many African countries. Many countries in the continent have by and large been dependent economically on either their former colonies or on the international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, African Development Bank, European community (EU) and others. They have not been successful in standing on their own i.e. becoming self reliant or getting their products penetrate into the competitive international market. As a result, they have suffered from a debilitating economy for many years now.
It is very sad that over 30,000 children die daily in Africa due to poverty, malnutrition and diseases. Generally, while the winds of change and development have blown in many European as well as North American countries, the continent of Africa continues to suffer from natural as well as man-made catastrophes. Conflicts and wars caused by territorial, ideological, racial, ethnic, linguistic and many other differences have become part of the daily lives for millions of Africans. These conflicts and wars have brought not only hardship and insecurity to millions but also impoverished many African economies.
Although some signs of civilized society have recently been observed in some African countries, African leaders frequently depend upon their military might rather than seeking peaceful and democratic solutions to their internal as well as external problems. Instead of feeding their people, many African countries spend a great deal of their budget to build and re-build their military. Consequently, during the late 1980s and into the 1990s, conflicts and wars have caused loses of so many lives and forced millions of Africans to flee their countries in order to find peace and democracy not only in neighbouring countries, but also in industrialized countries such as Canada and the United states.
Generally, African immigrants or refugees live within neighbouring African countries consisting, by and large, of rural migrants, moving over short distances. Recently, however, more and more African migrants and refugees, generally those with relatively higher levels of educational achievement and professional training, have legally or illegally managed to enter industrialized countries. These people have lived and studied there; others have acquired skills that can be very useful and that can help move the economy of their country of origin forward.
International organizations such as the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN), International Organization for Migration (IOM), European Union and other international agencies working in collaboration with industrialized nations, mainly the G-8 have been active and done a good job in mediating and helping resolve political problems many African countries face. They have also been assisting African countries financially from time to time mainly to alleviate poverty and to address relief aid.
However, their assistance has by and large been inconsistent. Further, their assistance focussed on politics rather than economics. Therefore, it did not help tackle the unbearable economic problems and bring significant change in either the economy or in the life standards of millions of African people. Recently, however, the most industrialized countries of the world, the G-8, have finally put their acts together and made the African issue their number one priority. By doing so, they seem to have developed the right economic approach to resolve the number one enemy of the continent of Africa: poverty and under development.
The G-8 countries during their summit in Scotland few years ago have made a big effort to reach at debt annulment; better trade relations and more funds to poor African countries mainly those in Sub-Saharan Africa. They made a buoyant move to allocate over 50 billion USD a year (on debt cancellation) in order to help poor African nations unravel their precarious economic conditions.
There is also a belief that North-South cooperation will build bridge with the international community and help increase global support. This can also help create a conducive and enabling environment for the international community to create positive setting for poverty eradication and livelihood improvement for millions of less fortunate people in many African countries mainly sub-Saharan countries.
Further, this noble decision will help narrow economic disparities and increase global integration among the rich and the poor countries. It is hoped that the G-8 leaders will continue giving due considerations to the predicament of the poor countries of Africa in order to bridge the unfair economic imbalances between the North and South.
Further, it is hoped that the initiatives taken by these G-8 nations to increase development fund, cancel the cumbersome debt obligations and provide equitable and favorable market provision for African products in the global market will have a positive impact on the economy of those poor African countries.
However, African nations must get their acts together and do their home works in fighting rampant corruption and mismanagement and develop workable strategies in order to escape from the vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment. It is also important for African countries to implement NEPAD to further embark on the issue of proper democratic norms, good governance and put every effort to achieve sustainable development. Here, it is important to note that Africans in the Diaspora (and that of course includes Ethiopians) must do their part in order to help the economy of their country of origin move forward.
BY YOHANNES GEBRESELLASIE (Ph.D)
Despite its astonishing and successive economic growth, Ethiopia still faces a lot of economic challenges. During his acceptance speech last week, the country’s new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed spotlighted on economic issues, and on ensuring economic growth for the people of Ethiopia, next to the main event issues - peace and stability, widening up political space, national consensus, justice, democracy and so on.
Over the past couple of years, the main economic challenges the country has been facing include inflation, rising foreign exchange rate, forex shortage due to the fact that foreign trade has not grown at the desired level, increasing burden of foreign debt, increasing disparity between domestic saving and investment, corruption, among others. These have in turn have impacts on the lives of the people.
Accordingly, the premier noted that in order to overcome these and other challenges, the government would work to sustain the rapid economic growth by assessing the two and half year implementation of the second Growth and Transformation Plan, and take the necessary policy adjustments in a bid to overcome the aforementioned challenges. Some scholars hold a belief that these statements of the newly elected premier would encourage the people and the market.
As to Dr. Birhanu Deno, economic lecturer at Addis Ababa University, who recently gave his comments to the Ethiopian Press Agency, the Prime Minister’s statements regarding the economy are timely and appropriate. The reason, according to him, is obvious as the country is facing foreign currency shortage because of deficit in its exports. This can be attributed to inability to produce exportable commodities that meet international quality. Focusing on export quantity rather than quality has hindered the competitiveness of Ethiopian commodities in the international market.
In order to solve the foreign currency shortage, it is important to be competitive in terms of price, and improve supply, both in quality and quantity, the scholar advised. As imported industrial inputs, such as machineries and other products, would have huge negative impact on the economy, it is important to replace them with products produced locally (in the long run).
As to the scholar, though it is not widely discussed, there is an increasing inflation which creating huge pressure on the day to day lives of the society, especially on low-income households. As it is impossible to readjust and control the situation, the best possible solution would be to increase production in terms of quantity. For instance, it is vital to increase agricultural land and introduce modern technologies so that farmers increase production and productivity.
Similarly, in order to prevent social crisis that is triggered by soaring inflation, he noted, it is important the government starts to subsidize basic commodities. He argues that before the new Premier formulates policies to overcome the economic challenges, it is imperative to prepare well to take actions based on researches and studies. Whatever the case, he indicated, it should not take a very long time.
Dr. Birhanu also argued this alone would not bring about the desired outcome in economics, as issues of justice, democracy, corruption and other issues would have their own impact on the overall economic growth. Hence, the Prime Minister has to create suitable condition for the youth, women, and members of the Diaspora to contribute their share for the peace and economic development of the country. In this regard, the Premier needs to start to come good on his promises swiftly.
The strong desire the Premier showed to maintain peace and democracy would have its own positive effect on the economy, added Dr. Birhanu. But this will have to be materialized as the economy would continue to become resilient when good governance is ensured, women’s economic role and benefit increases, youth innovation expands and justice prevails.
Dr. Birhanu also suggests solutions to solve forex shortage. The first measure according to him is to increase local production as well as product quality and diversity. Second, as the import-export business should not be monopolized by few individuals, other importers and exports should take part in the business in a competitive manner. And thirdly, controlling contraband. For instance, it is known that coffee and livestock are imported illegally. Hence, strict controlling mechanism has to be introduced as the foreign currency that is lost through such illegal trade would be used to improve lives.
The scholar also disclosed his belief that it is imperative to identify and ban importation of luxurious commodities that do not add value to the economy. For instance, it is possible to restrict the number of luxuries cars imported into the country while encouraging and giving incentives to sectors like tourism that generate more foreign currency.
Dr Aregaye Waketola, Vice President of Agriculture Professionals Association, for his part expressed his satisfaction with part of the Premier’s speech that focused on the agriculture sector.
According to him, it is important to allow farmers to trade as per the market. Though farmers have the willingness to adopt and use technologies that increase production and productivity, they could not do so as the price of such technologies are expensive. Thus, the government has to subsidize these technologies so that the farmers’ willingness to use technologies would not diminish.
“For me, the foreign push that the government should leave everything for the market and not intervene is not sound,” said Dr. Aregaye. It is impossible in developing countries like Ethiopia for the government not to entirely intervene in the market. This is because; the government has to intervene to control inflation and stabilize the high cost of living on low income households. Hence, the public and farmers should stand together with the new Prime Minister and his cabinet while they try to implement their plan.
According to studies, Ethiopia’s agriculture has the capacity to feed more than 300 million people. If farmers access scientific and technological support from the government, and if strong natural conservation activities are carried out, the Premier indicated that, it would be possible to significantly improve the contribution of agriculture to the economy.
BY ABIY HAILU
The government has established textile and leather industries as key priority sectors in its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) given that they are both resource-based industries, and that the country has the resources to integrate the entire value chain, from the sources of raw materials up to export.
Hence, as resource-based industries, securing sustainable supply of high quality raw materials is therefore key to improve the growth and competitiveness of both sectors, and for the sustainable production of high quality products.
Cotton is one of the most important cash crops in Ethiopia, and the main raw material for the textile and garment industry, with irreplaceable importance. However, the issue of quality supply of cotton is among the major bottlenecks facing the sector.
Considering all this, the government has turned to engineering a strategy that would help boost cotton production, and maintain cotton quality in a bid to increase the productivity of the textile and garment sector.
Zerihun Abebe, Director of textile and apparel research, monitoring and support at Ministry of Industry said that there was no national cotton development strategy or road-map, before the government launched a 15 year National Cotton Development Strategy.
The Director added that various stakeholders were involved in researching or studying on how the country can develop the cotton sector, and interlink its production with other sectors. They are also engaged in finding ways to support production and identify and solve all the bottlenecks in the sector.
Various reports have noted that the strategy aims to push the country's cotton field to one million hectares by 2032, whilst propelling volume of cotton production to more than 2.5 million tons by the same year.
Zerihun stressed on the need to strengthening integrative works in order to augment the linkage between cotton (agriculture sector) and the textile and garment sector.
Cotton production is a sector that stretches through many institutions and stakeholders, making integrative work very important. Increasing the productivity and quality of cotton involves use of agriculture extension workers, efficient use of irrigation, technology, pest management, conservation of biodiversity and so on. “Thus, it is imperative to strengthen integrative and harmonized work between the various stakeholders if we are serious about developing the cotton sector, and in the process the textile industry,” noted Zerihun.
Also, given that sustainable production of high quality cotton is exigent to the growth and productivity of the textile sector, the Director recommended again integrative works as important in solving some of the quality issues witnessed during harvest of cotton in the fields.
The same is true for the leather sector as well. Maintaining the quality of raw materials (hides and skins, in this case) is essential to establish an excellent and well-functioning leather industry.
Low quality of hides and skins are among the challenges that impede the sector’s development, said Addis Ketema, Director of Leather and Footwear Research and Monitoring at Ministry of Industry.
“There was a huge problem of quality in the raw material, and we are working closely with all the pertinent stakeholders to solve the issue, one of which is the agreement to work together with pastoralists and farmers in order to acquire quality input/ raw material,” he said.
Addis further noted that quality starts from the bottom, from the sourcing of the raw materials, before it moves ahead of the chain, and given this fact pastoralists and farmers are being given training that would help them maintain the health of their animals/cattle population by working closely with agriculture extension professionals. “In relation to this, we have agreed that training must be given and medicines have to be spread on the animals, and those things are being done currently,” he added.
And in terms of maintaining quality, according to Addis, various action plans have been identified that targets the various actors involved in the middle of the chain, i.e. businessmen that provide hide and skin. He believes that all this work will go a long way in improving the quality of the skins and hides produced, encouraging impacts have been felt already.
In a previous interview, Yigzaw Assefa, Managing Director of Bahirdar Tannery and Chairman of the Ethiopian Leather Industries Association (ELIA), said that Ethiopia is a little work away from being the most interesting place in the world for investment in leather given its sheepskin, goatskin and cowhide are renowned for being high quality. The quality of the raw materials is critical, he said, and when combining it with modern technology, Ethiopia can become a focal point for tanneries.
All in all, given the pivotal and strategic role both sectors have in the industrialization plan of the country, it would be behoove of all the relevant stakeholders and government bodies to curve up a sustainable flow of high quality raw materials for both industries.
BY ROBEL YOHANNES