Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Ministry of Transport and Logistics said, following a campaign launched last week, it has been able to transport more than 60 thousand metric tons of fertilizer from the Djibouti port only within three days between 21-23 July. 439 cross border heavy trucks and 25 train wagons have been deployed enabling the transportation of more than 20 thousand metric tons of fertilizer to inland distribution centers on a daily basis, according to the ministry.
The operation, which intends to supply fertilizer to the peasantry who are competing against time as the planting season is on the verge to pass, is being spearheaded by senior leaders of the ministry and other stakeholders. This comes amidst reports of protests in various parts of the country by farmers who are demanding access to and timely delivery of fertilizer, with the latest of such protests being in Hadiya zone in the formerly SNNP region.
On Monday, farmers of the zone who have been hard hit by the crisis, and made it to the streets of Hosanna town out of desperation, were met by violent police crackdown leading to the arrest of six farmers. Many were injured in the aftermath of gun shots fired by the police to disperse the large crowd, eyewitnesses told Addis Standard.
”We have not seen any fertilizer since spring. But we have been told by the government that it has been distributed,” one farmer who took part in the protests said. “When we ask again and again, they tell us to wait, but we haven’t seen anything yet,” he added.
“We are in serious trouble; if we do not get fertilizer urgently, we will be beggars next year,” the farmer who asked not to be named told Addis Standard, adding that a quintal of fertilizer which they used to get from the government at around 3,800 birr is now being sold at 12,000 birr on the market, which the farmer cannot afford.
“They tell us there is no fertilizer, where do the merchants get it from then? How does it end up in their hands?” another farmer who took part in the protests asked.
On the same day, as the protests took place in Hosanna, the Police in Amhara region intercepted a trailer loaded with 400 quintals of fertilizer, which took off from Djibouti port and was en route to its destination in Wereta city during illegal activities between the truck driver and a group of individuals before the fertilizer arrived at the intended destination.
Farmers in many parts of the Amhara region have been protesting against lack of fertilizer for months, but the fertilizer supply crisis extends to other regions including Oromia, Sidama and Tigray, further compounded by widespread illicit trade.
According to the state owned Ethiopian Agricultural Businesses Corporation, which is incharge of fertilizer procurement, the country has purchased close to 14 million quintals of fertilizer for the current farming season, out of which 11.9 million quintals (85.5 %) have been transported to the Djibouti port, and 10.7 million quintals transported from Djibouti port to distribution centers in central parts of the country. AS