WB approves $80 mln grant to support Ethiopia to boost agro productivity

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved 80 million USD grant to support the government of Ethiopia to boost agricultural productivity and enhance market access for smallholder farmers.

The additional financing will help to address the existing challenges and is key to ensuring that Ethiopia’s agricultural sector reaches its full potential, according to a press release issued by the Bank today.

The World Bank 2019 Poverty Assessment agricultural growth was a key driver of poverty reduction over the past decade for Ethiopia, the Bank said, and noted “additional financing for the Second Agricultural Growth Project (AGPII) will further increase the economic potential of Ethiopia’s agricultural sector”.

Senior Agricultural Specialist at the World Bank, Vikas Choudhary said “AGPII has made notable contributions to poverty reduction in Ethiopia. The project has been delivering solid results on the ground, especially in increasing productivity and enhancing commercialization.”

He further stated that by promoting the use of irrigation, the project has enabled farmers to harvest two or three crops in a year; as opposed to a single crop under rain fed conditions, and diversify from cereals to high value horticulture and nutritious crops.

AGPII has helped to increase access to agricultural services for nearly 1.4 million smallholder farmers of which 37 percent are women while successfully promoted over 254 new agricultural technologies with significant impact on crop productivity as well as climate-smart interventions.

Additionally, the project has been instrumental in helping farmers adapt to climate change by completing 2,629 new small-scale irrigation schemes and upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure, which made possible the irrigation of 23,290 hectares of agricultural land.

Moreover, the market infrastructure and value chain investments made under the project have been critical for connecting farmers with markets and enhancing commercialization, it was indicated.

World Bank emphasized that those activities have resulted in substantial increases in yield per hectare and raised farmers’ incomes as well as led to enhanced nutritional outcomes for farmers.

World Bank Country Director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan, Ousmane Dione said agricultural sector is crucial to Ethiopia’s economy as it accounts for 45 percent of total output and employs nearly 80 percent of the labor force.

“Encouraging results have been achieved so far, more work is needed to address remaining challenges and accelerate productivity gains, reduce exposure to erratic climatic conditions, decrease land degradation and enhance the natural resource base on which the sector depends.” 

The funds will go towards scaling up results achieved so far and enhancing the technical design of various activities as well as filling the unanticipated financing gaps created by high inflation and accelerate the implementation of project activities that have been delayed due to significant cost-over run.

With the aim of directly benefiting 1.6 million smallholder farmers, AGPII is implemented in 167 woredas in Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR, Tigray, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Harari regional states as well as Dire Dawa city administration.

Source: ENA