Ethiopian agricultural elite adresses food securityJuly 20th, 2011
Fifty years after graduation, Ethiopian agricultural elites gathered in Addis Ababa to discuss the role of capacity development and higher education for agricultural development and food security. The dialogue which gathered around 40 scholars included amongst others world food price laureate Gebisa Ejeta, a distinguished professor at Purdue University, though it has only been 38 years since his graduation.
"Science, technology and innovation is the only way to be out of poverty. This can be done through human resource development and institutional capacity building. For all this to happen, education is the basis," said Gebisa while responding to queries in the question and answer secession with journalists at Jupiter International Hotel.
Gebisha underlined the need to build internal capacity in his presentation: "A nation cannot be built upon advice that comes from abroad,"
Agriculture has played a leading role in the Ethiopian economy in the past and is expected to continue play such a role for a reasonable period of time in the future.
"Agriculture plays a leading role in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). The growth that was registered in the agricultural sector in the past five years will be strengthened in the GTP focusing on three thematic areas. These include small-farm holders, pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, and large scale agriculture…. These require the effort to ensure the effectiveness of human resources in the sector, operations and organizations at all levels," agreed Sileshi Getahun, State Minister of Agriculture.
The experts are expected to come up with effective measures to enable the country to feed itself in the long term, however it was agreed that there are no shortcuts to achieving this in the short term.
"For several generations, the United States and Ethiopia have shared a rich legacy of cooperation in the area of education and agricultural development. I am very pleased to see this expert group here today, some representing the results of cooperation between the two countries. Therefore, this is to continue our efforts to achieve common goals: to provide food security and resiliency despite economic and climactic shocks, to provide the youth with skills that can enable them to earn a decent livelihood and contribute to the development of their country, and to accelerate and expand the growth of Ethiopia’s agricultural sector as a prime mover for Ethiopia’s economic and social transformation," said Donald E. Booth, US Ambassador to Ethiopia, in his opening remark.
In a bid to increase agricultural productivity, the Ethiopian government formed a separate office called Agricultural Transformation office. According to information obtained from the US Embassy the US government is channeling 2 million dollars per year for the success of the goal of the office.
Most of the experts convened at this gathering were graduates of former Alemaya College of Agriculture and Jima Agricultural and Technical School in 1961. Most of them pursued their second and third degree education in the US. Both institutions were established in 1950 with the support gained from the US Government.
"At USAID we are very pleased to be able to bring together this unprecedented gathering of distinguished scientists, educators and policymakers, drawing on USAID’s legacy in agriculture in Ethiopia, to develop the skills of the new generation to carry forward the advancement of Ethiopia’s agriculture sector to achieve food security and economic growth," said Jason Fraser, USAID Acting Mission Director, in his welcoming remark. --Capital