Ethiopia government pressuring farmers to sell wheat at own price: Report

The Ethiopian government is pressuring farmers to sell wheat crops at its own set price rather than farmers preferred price, an online based Ethiopia focused media outlet Wazema Radio disclosed on Tuesday.

Citing anonymous sources, Wazema reported farmers in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia have been ordered to sell wheat to business-people at a price of 3,200 birr (59.7 U.S. dollars) per one quintal. The government has in turn put a floor ceiling price of 3,300 birr (61.50 U.S. dollars) to buy one quintal of wheat from the businesspeople.

The Ethiopian government has set the local wheat crop price reportedly with an eye to making Ethiopia a major what exporting nation. Oromia region alone is reportedly expected to contribute 3.1 million quintals of export focused wheat crop during the current 2022/2023 fiscal year, which started on July 8.

Farmers are disgruntled that the new government set wheat price will make them incur serious losses, Wazema reported citing interviews with farmers.

“I paid 1,500 (28 U.S. dollars) for one quintal of fertilizer during the previous 2021/2022 fiscal year, but I paid 5000 birr (93.2 U.S. dollars) to buy one quintal of wheat crop during the current 2022/2023 fiscal year. Its not sustainable for me to sell one quintal of wheat at a price lower than 4,500 birr (83.9 U.S. dollars) while I simultaneously have to pay an additional 3,500 birr (65.25 U.S. dollars) for one quintal of fertilizer this year excluding day to day life costs,” a farmer in Tiyo district of Arsi zone in Oromia region told Wazema radio.

Wazema also said its investigation has found out that some business-people buy wheat crops from government set price and sell only portion of the crop product at government set price. The businesspeople sell another portion of the wheat product to flour plants in cities at a price of 5,000 birr (93.2 U.S. dollars) after bribing customs checkpoint staff.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other Ethiopian government officials including current Oromia region President, Shimelis Abdisa and former Ethiopia Agriculture minister, Omar Hussein have in recent years been touting country as an imminent major wheat exporter.

While, the Ethiopian government plans to make the country a major wheat exporter shortly, around a fifth of Ethiopia’s 110 million plus population is currently facing severe food shortages, the global charity Save the children disclosed earlier this month.

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