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The Center of Excellence for Engineering (CEE) a national welding training center under the Ministry of Education, disclosed that it will start manufacturing prototype tractors. The center will also train engineers in manufacturing molds of different parts of tractors.
Wondwossen Kiflu, State Minister of Education, said, “Our agriculture must be supported by modern agricultural tools and we want our engineers to design and make tractors here.’’
Wondwossen made the above remark on 21 February at a certificate awarding ceremony to 33 welding professionals that were trained by the German economic cooperation organization GIZ Ethiopia.
The Swedish charity organization Industries for Africa will assist CEE technically and financially to materialize the center’s dream of manufacturing tractors locally.
The prototype tractors will be released after a year and half, according to plans of the center. Then after, CEE will have more manufacturing units across the nation in order to assemble tractors abundantly. “After making the sample tractors, we will talk to other stakeholders to support us to intensify the work,” Wondwossen said.
“It is a reason to be proud as a nation that we will start the production of tractors. That helps our farmers who use traditional methods of farming to use modern technologies that save energy and increase production,’’ he added.
Currently tractor parts are imported and assembled in Ethiopia. When manufacturing the tractors locally begins, farmers will have a big opportunity to have their own tractors at lower cost not to mention that saving on foreign currency.
Assefa Kidane, CEE Manufacturing Expert told Capital that the center is not targeting just on manufacturing prototype tractors but it also plans to manufacture prototype milling machines.
According to Assefa, small enterprises will have a lead role in manufacturing and supplying the tractors to regions when mass production begins.
“When we finish fabricating the sample tractors, we’ll train small enterprises how to manufacture it and then they will make and sell it to the farmers with fair price.”
“We hope that when small enterprises start manufacturing the tractors, a lot of jobs will be created for many people. Beyond that, using other traditional tools for agriculture will be history as farmers can buy tractors for reasonable price. And this will help the country to increase its agricultural production.’’
Recent evidences of mechanization showed that there are around 12,000 tractors in the country. This amount is very small relative to 80 percent of the population that is engaged in agriculture. Availability of home made tractors with low coast will boost the demand of farmers to buy it and that increases their production.
Recently, Ursus SA, a Polish producer of agricultural machinery, concluded a deal with the Metal and Engineering Corporation (MetEC) to provide a tractor assembly line for Ethiopia.
The company signed a deal with MetEC to supply 3,000 tractors back in September 2014.
During the initial stage the company will deliver 180, 80, and 50 horse power tractors to Ethiopia in addition to 110 and 140 horse power tractors that will be delivered later