ADDIS ABABA--Ethiopia is considering establishing agro-processing parks as an alternative to enhance the country's revenue-generating capacity, the Ministry of Industry says.

Ethiopia exports agricultural products in bulk but the revenue generated from such exports has remained low for years. Last year, the exports generated only two billion US dollars and the government is now considering the development of integrated agro-processing parks to change this.

It has already engaged in the development of four pilot parks and parallel to the development of the parks, has started recruiting companies which have the capacity to process agricultural goods and export value-added products, says a former State Minister, Mebrhatu Meles.

He said more than 200 companies have registered to start operations from the agro-processing parks so far.

Currently we are both in the construction process and recruiting investors in several agro-industrial forums and we have registered many companies in the second agro-industrial investment forum which was held in March this year," he added.

The first four parks are being built in Amhara, Tigray, Oromia and SNNP (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples') regional states with work well in progress.

This initiative will help to modernize and transform the agriculture sector by enabling it to penetrate the international market. The development of the parks will enables investors to acquire developed working areas with a one-stop-shop services, he said.

The operationalization of the integrated agro-processing industrial parks will have immense benefit for the country's economy, says Fasil Tadesse, an economics lecturer at Unity University, the country's first privately owned university.

Although the agriculture sector is the backbone of Ethiopian economy, contributing 45 per cent for the GDP. it is still lagging behind in generating export revenue compared with other sectors, he says. This is because of the trend of low value addition, backward and self-subsistence farming among other reasons.

Developing agro-processing industrial parks would help in harnessing the agricultural sector's potential and enhance its revenue earnings, he adds.


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