Addis Ababa November 1, 2022 (ENA) The wheat harvest Ethiopia expects by early July 2023 will surpass a record 160 million quintals, Agriculture State Minister Meles Mekonnen disclosed.

The produce is expected to bring much needed relief for the country that shells out between 700 million and a billion USD every year for the purchase of wheat from the international market, he added.

Briefing journalists today, Agriculture State Minister Meles Mekonnen said the wheat harvest this year will fully cover the needs as Ethiopia, which is about 97 million quintals annually.

The rest of the produce would be exported, he stated.

According to him, some 108 million quintals of the wheat produced during the last main rainy season is under harvesting stage in many areas.

Effort is also well underway to produce over 52 million quintals of wheat with irrigation by July, 2023 he said, adding that 1.3 million hectares of land will be covered by wheat in 9 regional states.

Last Ethiopian year, the country managed to produce over 24 million quintals of wheat through irrigation alone.

Meanwhile, Pulse Crops Production and Post Harvest Desk Head at Ministry of Agriculture, Sibhat Temesgen, told ENA earlier that the bumper harvest this Ethiopian year will be the biggest since the country started to implement the Wheat Production Initiative that started four years ago.

The Wheat Production Initiative is designed to make the country self-sufficient in wheat production.

Farmers in Ethiopia grow both bread and durum wheat, Sibhat said, adding that bread wheat or common wheat accounts for over 90 percent of the country’s wheat production.

The expert further stated that the highlands of the central, south-eastern, and north west parts of the country are the main wheat-growing areas.

In terms of area coverage, wheat ranks fourth after tef, maize, and sorghum that stand from first to third.

The area coverage of wheat has shown a significant increment from 1,696,082.59 hectares in 2016 to 1,897,405.05 hectares in 2020, while production and productivity grew at an average annual rate of 8.75 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

‘‘The low productivity at the national level could be attributed to the use of traditional subsistence production methods and over-reliance on rain-fed production by the smallholding farmers.

’’Sibhat pointed out that there was also no experience of wheat production in the lowland.

Now, the government has given attention to this untouched huge potential areas for wheat production through irrigation.

According to him, ‘‘Ethiopia has the potential to be among the top wheat producers in Africa.

There is a potential to expand wheat production into the arid and semi-arid lowlands through irrigation since the country has several irrigable lands that are suitable for large-scale production.’’

Moreover, the lowland areas of Ethiopia have vast un-utilized agricultural land endowed with many lakes and seasonal and perennial rivers.

Besides, about 43 percent of the Ethiopian land mass is covered by acidic soils that are suitable for wheat production, the expert elaborated.

Currently, there are about 99 bread wheat and 42 durum wheat varieties released and registered in Ethiopia.

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