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The Metal and Engineering Corporation (METEC) of Ethiopia, a state-owned engineering complex, reported to the House of Peoples Representatives,
that Ethiopia is on the right track to produce fertilizer for the next cropping season. The corporation presented its performance report to the House on Thursday Jan. 10, 2013.
Ethiopia envisions building eight fertilizer companies in the Oromia Regional state as per its governing five-year economic plan, the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), which ends in 2015. Out of the envisaged fertilizer producing companies planned to be constructed in Oromia, five are for Dap and the rest are for Urea.
Following a feasibility study conducted in relation to coal deposits discovered in the area last year in Yayu wereda of the Illubabor zone, in the Oromia Regional state the plan to build the eight fertilizer companies was revised, said General Kinfe Dagnew, general manager of the state engineering complex.
As per the study conducted, two Urea fertilizer factories and one Dap fertilizer factory will be erected in the area. The construction of Yayu fertilizer factory number one and two will reach 65 percent and 33 percent completion rate, respectively, this year. The design work for the Dap factory is already completed, while civil work and equipment production is underway, stated Kinfe. He also noted that the feasibility study to construct triple super phosphate and single super phosphate factories is ongoing. Meanwhile, the construction of two organic fertilizer producing companies is in progress in two unspecified regions of the country, bringing the total number of factories to be constructed to seven as opposed to the original plan of building eight factories.
“In this Ethiopian calendar year, fifty percent of the construction of all fertilizer factories will be completed. Based on the realities on the ground, Ethiopia will produce fertilizer for the 2013/14 cropping season,” Gen. Kinfe informed MPs in his report.
Ethiopia bought more than 600 thousand metric tons of fertilizer last year, still less when compared to the 900 tons of DAP and UREA the country bought in 2010/11 cropping season.
Ethiopia harvested more than 218 million quintals of crop last year, of which 188 million were major food crops like teff, wheat, maize, sorghum, barley and the likes, while the remaining balance of crops were oil seeds. This is up from the 205 million quintals harvested during the previous year. The current productivity level shows a harvest of 18.5 quintals per hectare and translates to 2.2 quintals of food crop per individual. This level of production is just short of the international 2.5 quintals of food crop per individual criteria for a country to be declared self-sufficient in food production. The agreed international standard is that an individual needs a food intake of 2,100 kilo calories,which translates to 2.5 quintals of food crop per annum.
Agriculture is the backbone of Ethiopian economy and it employs more than two thirds of the total population, which is over 86 million, according to the Ethiopian Statistics Agency (ESA). It is also the major source of hard currency. Currently, more than 12.8 million hectares of land is under cultivation.
When the soil fertility mapping, which is currently underway and is being conducted by the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (EATA) is completed, it is believed that the study will identify which land needs what type of fertilizer and in what quantity. That forecast will help to increase the current productivity level dramatically so that the country becomes more than self sufficient in food production. Fertilizer production in the country will aid in augmenting the level of productivity.
Ethiopia’s fertilizer consumption continues to grow over the years despite the ever-increasing prices that fertilizer commands on the international market, thereby becoming a major obstacle to the country’s determination to be self sufficient in food production within the coming three years. That is why Ethiopia embarked on the construction of its first-ever fertilizer factory in its history; in Yayo wereda, Illubabor zone, Oromia Regional state, 625km West of Addis Ababa, at a cost of close to 800 million birr.
The first phase of the construction of the Yayo Fertilizer Factory has been completed four months ahead of schedule. Back in March 2012, METEC awarded the construction of the first fertilizer factory in the country to Teklebirhan Ambaye Construction Plc at a cost of 792 million birr.
The 12 million birr feasibility study conducted by COMPLANT, a firm that studied the potential of Yayo, reported that around 100 million tons of coal was found in the Yayo area. It estimated that the coal deposit in the area has the potential to produce 300,000 tons of Urea, 250,000 tons of Dap, 20,000 tons of ethanol and 90MW of electric power annually for decades.
METEC was established in June 2010 and started work with 10 billion birr capital, contributed both in kind and cash. It has more than 13,000 employees in more than a dozen factories operating under its umbrella.