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NewsConflict, domestic market unpredictability drag oilseed exports

Conflict, domestic market unpredictability drag oilseed exports

Conflict, contraband smuggling, and soaring domestic prices are weighing heavily on Ethiopia’s oilseed export performance, according to a new report from an industry lobby group.

The volume of oilseed exports shrunk by 14 percent in 2022/23 to a little over 147,000 metric tons, while revenues fell by four percent to USD 253 million, according to a report from the Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds, and Spices Processors and Exporters Association.

The export of oilseeds saw a general 13 percent decline, while groundnut exports fell by a shocking 99 percent; sunflower by 16 percent; niger seed by 27 percent; and rapeseed by 85 percent, among others.

The marked decline in oilseed exports is contrasted by a 79 percent growth in pulse exports, which grew to over 377,000 metric tons in 2022/23. Pulses brought in close to USD 311 million, with soybean exports skyrocketing by 330 percent; green mung beans by 56 percent; while three varieties of beans saw export volumes double.

Still, pinto bean exports suffered a 94 percent fall, while chickpea shipments dropped by 39 percent, and speckled kidney beans also fell by 19 percent.

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“Despite the challenges encountered, oilseeds and pulses generated USD 563 million combined,” said Zelalem Zemede, general manager of the Association.

Nonetheless, the report outlines some worrying problems.

“Producers, suppliers and some exporters have irresponsibly skyrocketed the price of oilseeds and pulses in the domestic market,” it reads. The price escalations have forced exporters to sell their commodities at a loss.

The scramble for oilseeds and pulses is partially owed to supply disruptions in the domestic market, which in turn are driven by the ongoing conflicts in agricultural corridors producing the commodities. The conflicts have made it difficult for the commodities to reach exporters in the central market from farms.

“The challenges have continued through the current year,” states the report.

The report also reveals that although Parliament ratified a ‘contract farming’ proclamation last year, the legislation has not benefited the market.

“The costs and challenges arising in relation to the implementation of the contract farming proclamation have also made the domestic market unpredictable,” it reads.

The lobby group convened stakeholders for a general assembly at Getfam Hotel on 29 February, 2024. After evaluating the current and previous years’ export performances, the assembly stressed the need to maintain competitiveness in the industry.

Association members also elected a new executive board consisting of seven members. Edao Abdi has been chosen to serve as the lobby group’s new board president.

“Everyone working in the pulse, oilseed, and spice export industry needs to engage in a diligent manner being responsible not only for the business, but also for the country’s economic benefit,” said Edao upon accepting the nomination.

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