Date: Wednesday, 21 July 2021
By: Berhane Woldu
You see people on a sunny day out one their farm, proudly showing off row after row of blossoming orange trees, separated by dandelion-dotted shrubs. Eritrea has a very health climate its warm temperature in the lowland, Mediterranean climate in the highlands has high agricultural potential and rapidly developing small scale industrial infrastructure that is encourage by the agricultural product. Eritrean’s love to farm. Love alone want make a difference intervention is needed. To achieve food sufficiency the government made the agriculture sector a priority. In order to modernize agriculture and its products the Government opened the Hamelmalo College of Agriculture. The college is the main sources of agricultural experts. It was incepted in 2005. Since its formation the collage has achieved thirteen graduations in a total of five thousand one hundred forty five graduates. With some graduates gonging overseas for further education.
These 5,145 college graduates have been the main drivers of changes in the agricultural sector. The Ministry of Agriculture recently stated that farming has taken a new look in Eritrea. The traditional farming is being replaced by modernized farming. From small scale farming to large scale farms have expanded tremendously. Vegetable and fruits farming have swelled the number of farmers have increased seven fold. Due to the increase in the number of farmers the output of vegetables and fruits have grown double fold. To promote Vegetable and fruit farming sector and increase output the Ministry of Agriculture is introducing natural compost fertilizers and selected seeds that resist pesticides and draught with high volume of output. In-addition to supporting the farming sector the Ministry have trained over 100,000 farmers and 5,000 experts. To secure water the Government has built several dams of different size to accommodate the framers with ample sources of water.
Understanding the value and demand for water in all developmental projects such as: agriculture, mining, manufacturing industry and housing projects the Government built in aggregate 785 dams. Additional 200 small size dams that hold under ten thousand cubic water accommodating herders and cattle ranchers. In Eritrea there are reserved area for grazing animals, water supply and veterinary clinics. Today 85% of the Eritrean population drink’s clean water.
One out of the many modern farms that are presently at work is in Gash Barka region known as Gerset. Gash Barka is one of the six administrative region of Eritrea. Its size is 34,500 sq. Km. compromising 160,347 households. The livelihood of most of the population is based on farming and pastoral activities. Presently 250,000 hector of land is cultivated that produces 1.2 to 1.8 million ton of cereals. Vegetables and fruits are produced on 12,000 hector of land and 4,000 hector has been reserved for grazing animals. There are 178 small and 17 large dams that hold ample amount of water for animal and farming. Gerset is the largest farming site in Gash Barka region that started growing different kind of fruits and vegetables 15 years ago. Most of the farmers were trained in nurseries locally and some studied horticulture at universities out of the country. The farm employs 2,000 of local people, in the pruning seasons and for harvest. Gerset tomatoes are one of Eritrea’s most successful export. Hoping to overtake as the world’s biggest tomato exporter. 1/3 of Eritrea’s crop, or about 1.2m tones, will go abroad, with neighboring countries taking 57% of the total product. Eritrea’s entire farm sector, from cereals to meat production, is surging ahead. Last year agro-food imports were insignificant compared to earlier years that were worth 1 billion Nakfa, a 77.5% decrease on 1994. The agro-industry in Eritrea has a 31% increase 0n 2002.
Agriculture is probably the biggest single beneficiary of Eritrea’s membership of the many African Community. Eritrea joined The Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), The Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) and many other entities. Farmers were in for a happy surprise when money started rolling in: The industry received a bountiful of Government assistance. Thanks to those interventions, farmers’ incomes have, on average, tripled since, with the money coming from sells. Bigger farmers have modernized and become more efficient. Over the past ten years Eritrea has doubled its poultry production and is becoming one of Africa’s leading producer of soft fruits.
In Eritrean the small farming community has favorable social-security system, as well as some of the tax advantages they enjoy. The government has a program called Integrated Family Farming where by the farm households get material support. The rural population makes up 95% of the total. The small farmers are building coalition. Eritrea farmer’s most immediate worry is about increasing output and to develop export markets.
I for one, relatively optimistic for Eritrea, my home country, because of the big pool of university graduates and the high quality of life. 70% of Eritreans have gained from country’s recent transformation; whenever Eritrea was enjoying a peaceful, prosperous period it soon seemed to come to a brutal end, often through invasion and foreign intervention. Since 1991 it has achieved unprecedented levels of income and quality of life that was interrupted by Ethiopian TPLF and their sponsors. Eritrea is prospering once again: It has also gained an important role in East Africa and Gulf States diplomacy.
All long term projection shows that Eritrea will continue to grow faster. In an optimistic assessment of “Eritrea’s Golden Age” Economists predict that Eritrea’s GDP per person will grow by an average of 7.5% a year between 2021 and 2030. Optimist are keeping their fingers crossed that Eritrea’s rising incomes and quality of life will bring back some of the Eritrean diaspora.