A shortage of fuel jeopardizes efforts to empower farmers in Amhara Region to employ water irrigation for crops. In Bahir Dar, the capital of the region, there were long lines of farmers waiting to purchase fuel, which is essential for the operation of their water pumps.
It is a problem that surfaced only a few months after officials in the region provided water pumps for over 11,000 farmers as part of a strategy to revolutionize the rain-fed agricultural system throughout the region.
“The current weather is sunny, which means the crop need water every day. We can’t do this until we get a fuel to pump water,” said Ayalneh Mekuria, a tomato grower near Bahir Dar.
Farmers are concerned that their crops may get damaged if they do not receive sufficient fuel to run pumps. Woreta, Webjata, Endasa, Wogelsa, and other regions of south Gondar and west Gojjam are severely impacted.
The authorities, as usual, put the cart before the horse. Before distributing water pumps and encouraging farmers to adopt irrigation, the region was supposed to work out how fuel would be supplied,” said Yared Ayalew, an agricultural economist and professor at Dire Dawa University.
“We are well aware of the situation,” said Amsalu Gobawu, Head of Public Relations at the Amhara Region Agriculture Bureau, “It is partly because of the artificial shortage created by few greedy people who are buying fuel in large volume beyond their need to sell it in the parallel market.”
According to the official, gas stations have been instructed to give precedence to farmers in light of the pressing need to irrigate the land that is covered in a variety of crops.
“This is just going to be a temporary problem. It will be sorted out very soon,” Amsalu continued.
During the current bega season, it is anticipated that farmers will harvest 111 million quintals of crops on a total of 239 thousand hectares of irrigated land. Wheat accounts for around 70 million quintals of the total crop.