Drought-stricken Ethiopia says it can feed itself

Michael Lerner
Blouin News
Published on August 19,2015

Ethiopia is suffering from an ongoing drought, worsened by the El Niño global weather phenomenon. Rain-fed agriculture is the primary driver of the country’s economy, accounting for nearly 45% of its GDP and employing some 85% of its population. So it’s no surprise that the number of relief food beneficiaries in Ethiopia has increased to 4.5 million this month (out of an estimated population of 85 million), as stated in a report the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published on Tuesday. The report also noted that $386 million is required to adequately respond to the crisis, a 10.6% increase from a January forecast.

However, the government still insists it can care for the country without external food aid. In early August, Agriculture Ministry spokesman Wondimu Filate said “The government has enough food stock and it is assisting farmers to continue their farming practices with improved seed items and drought-resistant crops.” And Government Communications Affairs Office Minister Redwan Hussien was even more emphatic in his comments last Thursday. “We are able to feed ourselves and hence the magnitude of the problem has not been felt by the majority of the public including in areas affected by the shortage of rain… There is no sufficient reason for food price hikes because we do not anticipate severe damage in crop production. In any event of food shortage, we have adequate stockpile of crops to feed the gap,” he said.

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