Ethiopia Economy

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Cotton

6 Comments · Agriculture

Cotton is the most important of the fibre crops grown in Ethiopia. It is in fact one of the major cash crops of the country.

A warm weather crop, it is widely grown in the lowlands where optimum temperature conditions prevail, maximum and minimum temperatures ranging between 400c and 200c.

The alluvial plains of the big river valleys of the Awash, the lower Wabe Shebele, the lower Abay (Blue Nile), the Baro-Akobo and the peripherial lowlands of the west and some parts of the Barka lowland and the Red Sea coast are suitable for cotton cultivation.

As most of the lowlands are deficient in rainfall, the cultivation of cotton depends entirely on irrigation.

Cotton growing on the irrigable lowlands is, therefore, a large scale commercial enterprise undertaken by government organizations, primarly by the Ministry of State Farm Development, and to a certain extent by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission.

The most important cotton plantations are found in the Awash valley which is the major cotton producing region of the country. Rain-fed cotton is also grown under peasant holdings in the Regions of Gonder (Humera), Sidamo (Bilate) and Gamo Gofa (Arba Minch) where the annual rainfall is more than 700 mm.

The annual production in 1974 E.C (1982) is estimated at about 100,000 tons of seed cotton on 40,000 hectares of which the Ministry of State Farm Development accounts for 70%, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission 19%, and the private sector 11%.

Ethiopia, which began operating textile mills on imported cotton is now almost self-sufficient. The lint export, which was 400 tons in 1968 E.C (1976) increased to over 700 tons in 1972 E.C (1980), and the forecast ten years later is about 25,000 tons of export cotton.

The availability of extensive land yet to be developed and abundant water resources in the country makes the realization of this target feasible.

The need to improve yield and fibre quality has already led to the establishment of a research station which has been actively engaged since 1958 E.C (1966). As a result, large improvements have been made.

These have contributed to an increase in yield from 12-17 quintals per hectare in the early 70’s, to the present 30-35 quintals per hectare.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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