The daunting task of ensuring food security at household level

The daunting task of ensuring food security at household level

Bereket Gebru

Although our country achieved food self-sufficiency a few years back, it is still working on ensuring it at household level. The country is, therefore, pursuing sustainable development undertaking that involved farmers and pastoralists. Especially the relevant Ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Development, has set goals to ensure food self-sufficiency at household level during the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP 2) period.

Achieving food security is one of the goals of GTP 2. Expanding wide ranging developmental undertakings and implementing programs that bridge the food gap of those in chronic problems of food security are some of the efforts being made towards realizing the goal. The developmental safety net program that has been under implementation for the past fifteen years is the main program. Currently in its fourth round, the program helps more than eight million people speed up development in their localities.

Over three million families who built their capacities under the developmental safety net program and achieved food security have graduated out of the program. The magnitude of people that develop the capacity to ensure food security indicates the pivotal role the safety net program plays in promoting food self-sufficiency at the household level.

The “Ethiopia’s Progress Towards Eradicating Poverty: An Interim Report on 2015/16 Poverty Analysis Study” launched recently by the National Planning Commission the headcount poverty rate declined from 29.6% in 2010/11 to 23.5% in 2015/16. Numerically, the number of poor-population declined from 25.1 million to 21.4 million. Although this is a tremendous achievement, the presence of over 21 million poor people states that there is still a long way to go before the country claims victory over poverty. Accordingly, the government has prioritized poverty reduction, food security program and job creation for women and the youth during the GTP 2 period.

The target of the country’s development policies and the GTP is to enable women and the youth to surpass ensuring food self-sufficiency for their family and serve as centers of rural and agricultural transformation through the use of agricultural technologies. Under such a scheme, they would be expected to produce cash crops that help enhance their food security and push industrialization to a greater level in the country.

Upon adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the country has set plans to eradicate poverty through creating employment opportunities for women and the youth. Creating job opportunity for women and the youth is, therefore, a major plan towards ensuring food security in rural and urban areas alike.

Towards realizing this plan, the federal government launched a ten billion birr revolving fund to provide the youth with loans to help them start up businesses. The employment and self empowering aspect of this scheme is expected to boost their chances of ensuring food security along the way. Industry and agro-industry parks have also been established in regional states providing the youth with employment opportunities. Preparations are also underway to incorporate the youth in programs that involve them as out growers supplying industries with inputs. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources Development, in collaboration with regional bureaus and other stakeholders, is also striving to build the capacity of young farmers to ensure food security for their family by engaging in irrigation schemes, poultry, breeding and fattening of cattle, goats and sheep, cultivation of vegetables and fruits, and basin development.  

Through the above stated efforts, over 1.57 million rural youth have gained employment during the 2016/17 fiscal year. 1,145,591 of those are employed on a permanent basis while the rest are temporarily employed. Out of this total, 850,894 are employed in agriculture while 696,186 are employed in non-agricultural jobs.

Strengthened efforts in the 2017/18 fiscal year are planned to create jobs for additional 1.799 million young people, out of which 1,200,365 are expected to be employed permanently while 599,390 are expected to be employed temporarily. A rural job creation strategy has been formulated to make the ongoing youth employment creation efforts sustainable.   

The commitment to ensure the benefits of women and the youth are expected to get even stronger in the coming years with revamped food security programs and rural job creation schemes. The active participation of the people and the vital role of stakeholders is, however, invaluable to the realization of this goal.

There are plans to provide households with alternative water sources during the dry season and break their dependence on rain. The presence of such alternatives helps raise their productivity so that they would be able to meet the demands of their family members and still be left with produce to be sold in the market at a good price. Efforts are underway to improve the life of farmers by covering 3.3 million hectare of land in the current fiscal year and producing 469 million quintals of produce.

In general, the efforts geared towards ensuring food self-sufficiency at household level are paying off tremendously. The country is nowadays registering glittering results in its fight against poverty. The recent report by the National Plan Commission states that between 2010/11 and 2015/16 about 5.3 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Hence, not only did the poverty incidence decline but the number of poor people declined as well. The total number of population increased from 84 million in 2010/11 to 93 million in 2015/16, while the number of poor-population declined from 25.1 million to 21.4 million. In the five years until the 2010/11 fiscal year, another five million people got out of poverty.

The study further states that the per capita GDP grew from 125 USD to 794 USD in fifteen years. That is upwards of a six fold growth in the income of Ethiopians. By any measure, achieving such a huge rise in the income of citizens in such a relatively short period of time is extraordinary. The report goes one step further by stating that Ethiopia’s per capita GDP has hit 1608 USD in PPP terms in 2017. Although expressed in PPP, the figures clearly show that the country is fast becoming a low middle income country in line with its vision of attaining lower middle income status by 2025.

Considering the considerable rise in income and the reduction in the level of poverty boost the state of food self sufficiency in households, it is clear that the achievements so far are commendable although the journey is still a long way from its final destination.

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