Ethiopia should focus on seed production

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The wide gap on seeds demand and supply is affecting the vegetable farming and experts insist that the government should focus on seeds production in the country besides the import business. Currently the price of seeds skyrockets due to COVID 19 effects.
Experts in the agribusiness said that the country’s vegetable farming is highly attached with imported seeds. The seeds that are imported from Europe like the Netherlands, Israel, India and Kenya are supplied for the local vegetable farming, while experts in the sector like Gebremichael Habte, an agribusiness advisor, the country should change the trend and focus on local production.
“Currently more than 95 percent of vegetable seeds are imported except few local producers that are engaged on seed production, including onion seeds,” Gebremichael told Capital.
Experts said that the supply of vegetable seeds is not meeting the demand that should be totally solved to improve the agriculture sector.
“Exclusive right to import seeds is also one of the major challenges for the shortage of seeds in the market,” experts said.
Companies who have exclusive rights should wait to get foreign currency to import the product that affects the demand side, according to experts.
Gebremichael agreed on this idea and said that the government should open the supply and bypass the exclusive rights to expand the import and allow more importers to be engaged on the seeds import, “it is now implemented for the chemical business,” he said.
“Until the country develops its capacity such kind of short term strategies should be applied,” he added.
Experts said that the country should transform its capacity to produce seeds locally. “Vegetable seeds strategy has been developed few years back that should be implemented,” Gebremichael, who was part of the experts that were engaged on developing seeds strategy said.
“So far some non-governmental organizations are trying to expand the seeds production that should be supported by the government as soon as possible,” experts said. “Ethiopia can easily produce seeds,” Gebremichael added.
An agronomist, who is involved in export of horticulture products, raised his concern saying that relevant government officials always speak about agricultural input but they don’t mention anything about seeds. “For instance the duty free scheme for seed sector is allowed very recently,” the horticulture exporter told Capital.
He recommended that the accessibility of hybrid seeds should also be increased as soon as possible for the sake of sustainable development in the sector.
He said that the seed shortage has affected the agriculture activity and the vegetable productivity.
The global lock down and slow down of cargo flight affects the supply of seeds. Due to the price hike on cargo and lack of access to market makes the price of seeds to hike globally. Experts in the sector said that the seeds price in the local market also doubled.