Agriculture is the foundation of Ethiopia’s economy, accounting for 41% of the nation’s GDP, 83.9% of exports, and 81% of employment. The sector remains the main driver of Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth and development and is projected to maintain a growth rate of 8% per annum over the coming years. This trajectory is supported by modernization in the food crop, livestock, horticulture, industrial and export commodity subsectors.
Much of the country’s land (74.3 million out of a total 111.5 million hectares) is suitable for annual and perennial crop production, although only a fraction of this is currently being farmed. While 18 million hectares are presently cultivated under rain-fed agriculture, there is the potential to cultivate an additional 4.3 million hectares through irrigation. This, coupled with twice-yearly rainfall, presents enormous potential for year-round double and rotational cropping.
Ethiopia produces a variety of cereals, pulses, oil seeds, fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, spices, and cotton and other industrial crops. More than 100 crops are grown throughout the country, of which production is dominated by cereals for domestic consumption (maize, wheat, and tef – an indigenous crop – being the most common). Several other crops are also grown widely for export, namely coffee, sesame, fruits and vegetables, which form Ethiopia’s top three agricultural exports (they earned 844 million USD, 349 million USD, and 247 million USD, respectively, in 2011 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization). Maize also offers the potential to export, predominantly to other African countries.
Having the biggest livestock population in Africa, with over 180 million animals, also counts as an advantage for Ethiopia. In 2016, the National Bank of Ethiopia reported export earnings of 200 million ETB from the export of meat, live animals, leather, and leather products. The economic boom of the last decade has also led to a growing domestic demand for meat and dairy.
*ETB – Ethiopian Birr
Get in touch
The Agricultural Transformation Agency is an initiative of the Federal Government of Ethiopia Off Meskal Flower Road, across from Commercial Graduates Association