Friday, June 14, 2024
NewsAgriculture Ministry looks to lease anti-pest aircraft in bid to generate revenue

Agriculture Ministry looks to lease anti-pest aircraft in bid to generate revenue

Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture are considering the commercialization of a fleet of aircraft acquired to spray farms with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals in a bid to generate an additional stream of income.

The Ministry owns and operates five planes exclusively, most of which were procured recently following the locust invasions that devastated farms in the country’s east and north a few years ago. During the invasions, it relied on aircraft leased from other states and assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to fight off the pests.

However, insurance and maintenance costs, as well as hopes of enhancing the country’s capacity to manage increasingly common pest infestations via private sector involvement are pushing the Ministry to consider commercializing the aircraft, according to Minister Girma Amente.

He disclosed his office has prepared procedural guidelines that would enable these planes to provide services to the private sector and large commercial farming ventures. The Minister expects the services to launch soon.

The Minister observes growing threats from a variety of agricultural pests, and hopes that by leveraging its exclusive fleet, the Ministry can support pest control efforts and establish a sustainable source of revenue.

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The initiative will enable the planes to operate beyond Ethiopian airspace and provide agricultural services in neighboring countries, according to Girma.

He notes the need for dedicated landing sites and airstrips across the country, the absence of which forces the planes to use conventional airports as a base for the Ministry’s chemical-spraying operations.

“We need our own small landing strips,” said Girma. “We have a plan to request a budget from the Ministry of Finance.”

The commercialization strategy will involve offering the planes’ services to private agricultural enterprises and possibly other countries facing similar pest control challenges. The Minster hopes to see the initiative enhance the Ministry’s operational efficiency and contribute to the broader agricultural sector’s resilience and productivity.

Further details on the commercial modalities and implementation timeline are anticipated to be released in the coming weeks.

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