The Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds and Spices Processors and Exporters Association (EPOSPEA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade organized the first international conference on Ethiopian pulses, oilseeds, and spices last week. The three day conference which aims to create sustainable and credible trade among partners has gathered many international delegates.
The major focus of the gathering was that Ethiopia has a huge potential in cultivating pulses, oilseeds and spices and that efforts are underway to tap the potential and use the Ethiopian Commodity Exchanges to market and maintain the quality of the produce.
Agriculture represents more than 75 percent of Ethiopia’s export earning while the balance is covered by service and industry. In the 2010/11 Ethiopian fiscal year, Ethiopia exported 250 thousand metric tones of oilseeds to 30 countries. More than 60 percent of Ethiopia’s oil seeds are exported to China followed by Turkey and USA. Last Ethiopian fiscal year, oil seeds rake in the second largest chunk of hard currency to the country, over 580 million dollars, next to coffee.
Ethiopia is one of the largest producers and consumers of pulses in the world. At present more than 1.7 million households grow pulses on close to 1.4 million hectares of land, representing 11.5 percent of the farming land in the country. It produces close to two million tones of pulses which constitutes 9.6 percent of the total grain production in the country. Pulses are the third largest export item of Ethiopia, following coffee and sesame. About 12 pulse species grow both in the highland and lowlands of Ethiopia. Research indicates that Ethiopia can increase its current production capacity by threefold. An average marketable surplus of pulses for both the local and international market is estimated to be about 21 percent of the total production.
Ethiopia is endemic to many species of oilseeds among which sesame, “nug”, linseed, safflower, and Ethiopian mustard are of immense economic value. All regions of Ethiopia are conducive for the production of one or more oilseeds. Due to their attractive demand in the international market, the production of oilseeds has been increasing since 2000. In 2011 cropping season, the area covered by oilseeds increased by 6.5 percent while production grew by 3.6 percent. For instance, the production of sesame has grown in the past decade by 16.6 percent and the area by more than 15 percent.