Saturday, June 15, 2024

Agribusiness takes root at the banks of River Bilate


Agribusiness investors’ commitment reaps benefit in the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and cereals at River Bilate’s banks, as investments continue to flow in the area.
Mechanized farming has now taken full shape in the area of the seasonal river that divides Sidama and SNNP region.
This has lured prominent tycoons such as Belayneh Kinde, who is not new to farming, to invest in the area and has now joined the scheme by taking 550 hectares of land on the eastern bank of the Bilate River.
According to Anteneh Abebe, Agriculture Division Head at Belayneh Kinde Group, the company took over the land about four months back and several activities have been done to nurture the land.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

In the past few months, the company prepared the land for cultivation and currently about 400 hectare of land is covered by wheat as part of a dry farming initiative.
The rest of the land is also planted with avocados, which is an emerging and lucrative fruit type in the sector.
Of all the successes registered over the few months, the company cites the construction of a 4km coffer dam at its summit of achievements.
“Cultivation in the area had long been difficult because of the overflow of the Bilate river, that flows for almost eight months in a year,” Getinet Alemu, Manager of the farm explains, adding, “In the rainy season, the river over flows to the main land which for long had been a nightmare for farmers in terms of cultivation in the past. The dam now serves as a sustainable solution both in terms of agri-production and daily business lives for the locals.”
He further elaborated that gradually the wheat farm will be replaced by different fruits trees that are now under preparation.
Similarly, in this short period of time, the farm has also constructed a 20km all season gravel road that will allow the investor to keep its operation swiftly.
On the western bank of the Bilate River in Wolayta zone, SNNP region, which is adjacent to Belayneh’s farm, magnificent agricultural activities have been accordingly been underway for the past one and half years.
On the other side, the investment activity owned by Dagne Dhaba has developed different fruits including lemon that covers 50 hectares, orange 100 hectares, avocado and papaya that cover each 300 hectares as well as banana at 350 hectares.
Currently the farm, Dagne Dhaba Agricultural Products Exporter, is supplying up to seven trucks each of banana and papaya on a daily basis to the market.
And as farm manager Bayissa Baha explains, the farm is preparing to supply avocado for market.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

“For the last about ten months, we have been supplying banana and papaya to the market on a daily basis and this will cut across our other fruits as well,” he added
According to Bayissa, the lemon and orange production is expected to be available to the market very soon. Besides the local market, the farms is also supplying the agricultural products to neighboring countries and in the near futures products like avocado will be exported to the European and Middle East market.
The marvelous achievements registered at the farm in under two years are attributed to the full engagement and commitment of the investors who spend a majority of their time at the farm.
“We have constructed an electric transmission line by ourselves that also benefits 250 households that reside here, and a 25km road which eases accessibility. Waters systems such as eight well drilling spots which cost us hundreds of millions of birr have been invested for sustainable production,” he added.
The farm also serves as an input supplier to the region. In the past harvest season, wheat seeds, improved red kidney bean seeds and maize have been distributed to farmers in the region that are sourced from the Dagne Dhaba farm.
For this coming season, the farm is also cultivating sunflower and maize seeds that will be supplied to farmers.
Apart from the two farms that have registered great success in a short time span, is pioneer of the area Bereket Worku, who received 600 hectare of land at Bilate on the right side of the prominent military camp in Wolayta Zone of SNNP.
According to Mesfin Seyoum, Farm Manager at Bereket Worku Farm, they received the farm about two and half years ago, but activities remain very limited.
For instance, in the past over two years, the farm cultivated a very limited land from the total it received. The manager said that currently, the farm supplies about 50 trucks of tomato and pepper to the market.

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

Despite cultivating few hectares of land with banana, papaya, cassava and avocado the farm has never delivered any of these fruits to the market.
“Engaging on the investment is a vital decision but taking prudent follow up and utilizing the land resource is key to the success of agri-businesses in the area,” an expert who knows the Bereket Worku’s farm remarked.
The farm seems to have fallen behind to new comers who have hit the ground running.
Mesfin to this end admitted that his farm is still on its trial test period, and opined that in the near future the developments will take shape.
“So far we can say we are on a trial period but we may grow up in the future,” he said.

Read more