Ethiopia: Increasing Nutrient-Use Efficiency –

by Zelalem

Intensive high-yield agriculture is dependent on addition of fertilizers, especially industrially produced NH4 and NO3. In some regions of the world, crop production is still constrained by too little application of fertilizers. Without the use of synthetic fertilizers, world food production could not have increased at the rate it did and more natural ecosystems would have been converted to agriculture. Between 1960 and 1995, global use of nitrogen fertilizer increased seven-fold, and phosphorus use increased 3.5-fold ; both are expected to increase another three-fold by 2050 unless there is a substantial increase in fertilizer efficiency. Fertilizer use and legume crops have almost doubled total annual nitrogen inputs to global terrestrial ecosystems. Similarly, phosphorus fertilizers have contributed to a doubling of annual terrestrial phosphorus mobilization globally.

Further increases in nitrogen and phosphorus application are unlikely to be as effective at increasing yields because of diminishing returns. All else being equal, the highest efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer is achieved with the first increments of added nitrogen; efficiency declines at higher levels of addition. Today, only 30-50 per cent of applied nitrogen fertilize rand 45 per cent of phosphorus fertilizer is taken up by crops. A significant amount of the applied nitrogen and a smaller portion of the applied phosphorus is lost from agricultural fields. Ethiopia is endowed with several agricultural, mineral, and other natural resources and is one of the most fertile countries in Africa. The relatively high variations in topography and agro-ecological set-up have given the country the opportunity to be the origin of many plant species.

The variation in weather has also provided the country with the opportunity to grow various fauna and flora. Agriculture directly supports about 85 per cent of the population in terms of employment and livelihood, contributes more than 40 per cent of the country’s GDP, generates about 90 per cent of the export earnings, and supplies around 75 per cent of the raw material requirement of agro-based domestic industries. It is also the main sector that could provide the necessary surplus capital for industrial development in Ethiopia.

But in put supply is facing challenges, this articles tries to depict the business opportunity in agro-chemical sector. At the same time efforts exerted by association to undo the bottle neck.

We all share the position that Ethiopia demand for agro-chemicals is hiking for a number of reasons: To increase productivity vs the population increase. Realize sustainable development. Even if the nation has workable strategies that could support investment still Ethiopia remained net importer of Agro-Chemicals.

Of late this writer had took part on a forum organized by Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (ACCSA) in bid to alleviate business communities awareness of the country’s investment opportunities aimed to bridge decision making gaps.

The forum entitled opportunities, production and marketing of major agricultural chemicals. Getachew Regassa, AACCSA Secretary General, indicated the forum attached increased focus on available opportunities in the major agro-chemical industry.

AACCSA is engaged in assisting pertinent business owners to engage in demand-driven investment, he said, adding: “We also promote trade and investment in a bid to creating business friendly environment and vibrant private sector, working in partnership with government, business community, development partners and other stakeholders.

According to Getachew, AACCSA has been working with experts and researchers to provide business owners with opportunities of producing and marketing major agricultural chemicals.

Researcher Feleke Borga said for his part Ethiopia is net importer of the agro-chemicals, fully dependent on international producers despite attractive incentives and huge production potential.

Ethiopia had imported 341,000 ton fertilizer worth 5 billion Birr in 2014, eight per cent of national GDP.”Investors will be profitable if they engage in this sector for it has high demands,” Feleke said.

High agro-chemical demand, availability of raw materials/ inputs, quick and high rate return, and availability of different kinds of government incentives make agro-chemical production and supply investment attractive, he added.

According to Feleke, Production is capital-intensive and characterized by substantial economies of scale hence it is capital-intensive. To address this capital constraint, government could promote joint venture initiatives where the government or foreign investor jointly with the local investors can engage in the sector. At same time preparing skilled human power should be given due attention. Finally,. Feleke noted that improving extension services and linking them to the private input supplier so that farmers apply the correct amount of fertilizers and pesticides on their land.

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