South Gonder’s rising rice production

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The average rice yield in South Gonder which produces 80 percent of the nation’s rice has skyrocketed from 20 to 30 quintals in just a decade, which is a testament of continuous efforts to promote the grain in Ethiopia.
The land in places like Fogera, Dembeia and Lebo was at one time considered too poor in quality for agriculture. Now, however, farmers are producing 900,000 quintals of rice per year.
According to Fogrea National Research and Training Center, rice is now is being mixed with teff batter to bake ‘Enjera’ which has greatly increased the demand for rice.
Sheway Abera, the director of Fogera Center told Capital that more rice could be produced if more attention was given to the grain.
“Years ago when rain came farmers went into the mountain until the rain tapered off. Now rain is a blessing because they use it to grow rice and they are earning money. The swampy areas in Gonder are becoming the farming plots for rice and if we use modern farming methods we can grow even more rice .’’
“Our rice production has two targets one is to make it more popular among Ethiopian households and the other is to meet export standards.’’
Ethiopian rice still faces challenges such as high competition with imported rice, poor infrastructure, insufficient mechanization and post harvest processing technologies, lack of skilled manpower and research facilities, poor marketing infrastructure and channels, she said. Building the capacity of the research community, experts, small holder farmers and the private sector is necessary not only to further increase production, but also to improve the quality of rice products through better postharvest handling and processing, she added.
According to the Ethiopian National Rice Development Strategy approved in Kampala in April 2009, Ethiopia has a huge potential to produce rice on an estimated 20 million hectares.
The strategy also indicates a continual increase in land under rice cultivation that grew from 24,434 to 32,685 hectares between the seasons of 2007/08 and 2008/09.
The annual rice production in Ethiopia is now 1.2 million quintals.
Rice was introduced to Ethiopia in the 1970s when wild rice was observed in swampy areas of Gambela and the Fogera plains
The government works alongside rice research partners and donors including: Africa Rice, IRRI, JICA, AGRA, SG2000, and MEDA.