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The Ministry of Trade (MoT) dismissed the complaints of grain exporters who were disappointed because allegedly a single company was permitted to export maize to eastern and southern African countries.
Ayana Zewde, State Minister of MoT, told Capital that other companies and farmers’ unions were allowed to export the product to parts of Africa where severe drought has occurred.
Meanwhile, Belayneh Kindie Import and Export Plc has been permitted to export grain to Kenya, according to information Capital obtained.
The government banned all grain exports as of the preceding budget year when Ethiopia experienced severe drought.
However, after a bumper crop of maize this year that resulted in a surplus, the government decided to export it to regional countries that are experiencing drought.
Ayana said that since the government decided to export the product, it has tabled a precondition to restart exports to the region. The precondition is that maize exporters have to have their own farm or a contract agreement with other commercial farms from whom they can buy the crop. To maintain stability in the local market exporters are not allowed to collect maize from other sources.
In addition, the government has authorized interested farmers’ unions to export their surplus maize production directly on their own.
However, exporters on their part told Capital that their request to take part in this window of export has fallen on deaf ears.
The State Minister said, “we have allowed more than one company to export and we are screening other companies to determine if they have genuine contract agreements with farmers’ associations or are exporting from their own farm.”
“Some of the contract agreements they brought were found unreliable,” he noted adding further that the government will allow those exporters who are coming with genuine contracts to proceed with their exports.
Belayneh Kindie, head and owner of Belayneh Kindie Import and Export Plc, told Capital that he is exporting the product harvested from his own farm and Ethio Agri-Ceft.
The State Minister explained that the government has allowed two investors from Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz to export in addition to Belayneh Kindie Import and Export Plc. “As far as I know Belayneh Kindie Import and Export exported about 100,000 tons.” The state owned Ethiopian Trading Businesses Corporation was also allowed to export maize it collected from farmers.
In total the selected exporters have sold over 400,000 tons of maize abroad. This does not include the state owned corporation.
Meanwhile, even though other exporters are permitted to sell the crop abroad they have not done so as yet. The Federal Cooperative Agency has hence been tasked to assist farmers’ unions to commence their export, according to Ayana.
Maize is a staple diet for south and eastern African countries. The price of maize has been skyrocketing in the region since the shortage. A ton of maize has now reached up to USD 360.
Ethiopia experienced a bumper harvest estimated at over 4,000,000 metric tons of maize and quarter of it is considered to be a surplus.