Ethiopia Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture is Ethiopia’s most important industry. Coffee and food crops are grown in the highlands, mainly in small family farms. In the lowland areas there are groups of people who are mostly livestock keepers. Regularly, the rain does not disappear and the country suffers from a lack of growth.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Ethiopia. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

The agricultural sector accounts for almost one-third of the country’s GDP and employs three-quarters of the working population. All land is owned by the state. The land cannot be sold but the right of use is inherited. As a result, farmers are kept on land, which is divided into smaller lots at the time of inheritance.

Cultivation is mainly done with simple methods. The most common food crops are the domestic cereal teff as well as sorghum, corn, wheat and barley. Teff is used for the pancake-like, sour bread injera that is included in all meals.

The coffee bush originated in Ethiopia’s mountainous regions and coffee beans have long been the country’s most important export commodity. Unlike many other coffee producers, Ethiopians also consume considerable quantities of coffee themselves. Sugarcane, oilseeds, cut flowers, vegetables and beans are also grown commercially, as is the mild narcotic leaf plant khat. For Ethiopia defense and foreign policy, please check prozipcodes.

The fact that the state owns all land is holding back investments that could have increased productivity. The conditions for higher returns are otherwise good. The soil is fertile and there is water in the rivers. But irrigation is unusual; only 4 percent of the cultivated land is irrigated.

So far, the peasants rely almost exclusively on rain. In prolonged drought, there is widespread famine. Agriculture is also struggling with erosion and depletion of the soil, largely due to forest degradation but also because the rapidly growing population is increasing the pressure on the crops. Overgrazing also contributes – Ethiopia has Africa’s largest stock of livestock. In addition, Ethiopia’s arable farming is affected by recurring attacks from huge grasshopper swarms.

Almost one third of those employed in the agricultural sector are livestock farmers. Somalis and Afars in the lowlands to the east are predominantly herdsmen. In Gambella in the southwest, a number of small groups of livestock are living in combination with simple farming. Pastures and soil are managed by tribes and clans according to inherited patterns. Livestock management has also been hit hard by the recurring severe drought of recent decades, which has caused high mortality among both livestock and people.

The government has invested in leasing millions of hectares of agricultural land to foreign companies, from China, India and Saudi Arabia, among others. Ethiopian authorities claim that less than a quarter of arable land is used. By renting land one hopes to create jobs and income and reduce the chronic food shortage in the country.

The plans also include a development program where around 1.5 million families will be moved from their lands to new “model villages”. Critics point to the risk of environmental degradation and changed living conditions for the local population. This is especially true of nomadic livestock caretakers. There are reports of violence occurring at evictions. People have been beaten and raped or disappeared. Those who have been relocated to new villages have not been given sufficient access to food, agricultural land, healthcare and schools.

Although deforestation and land degradation has drastically reduced the forest area, some forestry is run. An ambitious reforestation program has made Ethiopia one of the leading countries in the world in terms of number of planted trees.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

31.1 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

36.3 percent (2016)

  • Offers how the 3-letter acronym of ETH stands for the state of Ethiopia in geography.



Huge dust is opened

December 17

The disputed power plant Gibe III is inaugurated. This completes the large hydroelectric project Gilgel Gibe on the Omo River. Gibe III is one of Africa’s largest dams and is estimated to produce enough electricity at full operation for Ethiopia to export electricity to Kenya, among others. Environmental activists and human rights groups fear that the project will lead to sharply reduced water supply to the downstream areas, where the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are threatened (see Natural Resources and Energy).

Opposition leaders are arrested

1 December

Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, is arrested shortly after returning from Europe, where he publicly criticized the state of emergency in Ethiopia. Among other things, Merera Gudina has spoken to the European Parliament in Brussels. One of the audience was Berhanu Nega, leader of the banned group Ginbot 7, which aims to overthrow the government of Ethiopia by force.


More than 11,600 arrested

November 12

More than 11,600 people have been arrested since an emergency permit was introduced in October 2016, according to state media. The arrested are suspected of everything from murder and armed attacks against the security forces to the obstruction of traffic. It is not clear how many of those arrested have been released.

The government is being reformed

November 1st

Prime Minister Desalegn reverberates in the government with the intention of broadening its ethnic representation. Two representatives of the Oromo people group are appointed Foreign and Communications Ministers respectively and replace two Tigreans who held the posts before. Only nine of the old government’s 30 members are allowed to keep their jobs. However, the gender distribution is still skewed; only three women have ministerial posts.


Most arrested are released

October 31st

About 2,000 of those arrested since the state of emergency were introduced have been released, state-controlled media reports. They are set free after “teaching and counseling”.

Thousands are arrested for violence

October 20

About 2,600 people have been arrested since the state of emergency was introduced. Around 1,000 of them have been arrested in Addis Ababa and its surroundings, most of the others in Oromia and Amhara, according to the government. Everyone is suspected of being involved in violence.

Media and freedom of movement are restricted

October 16

The government announces that a number of restrictions on personal freedom apply during the state of emergency. Foreign diplomats may not travel further than four miles from Addis Ababa. It is forbidden to receive TV broadcasts from Ethiopian organizations based abroad and to link content from such TV stations to social media. Mobile surfing has been stopped in almost the entire country. Twelve hours of nighttime curfew is prohibited around all factories, agriculture and government institutions, and it is forbidden to carry weapons within a five-mile wide zone along the country’s borders, as well as in an area along all major roads. Political parties are not allowed to send out press releases “that provoke violence” and religious leaders are not allowed to make political statements.

The government promises a new electoral system

October 11

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announces that he plans to reform the country’s electoral system so that Parliament gets a wider composition. In the recent elections, the government party and its allies have won all the seats.

An emergency permit is introduced

October 9

In an attempt to curb the hostile protests that have shaken the country since November 2015, the government is announcing a six-month state of emergency. The government accuses Eritrea and Egypt of igniting protests among the Oromo and Amhara people groups who feel overruled by the Tiger-dominated government. Oromo and amhara are the country’s largest groups of people and together comprise 60 percent of the population. Human rights experts at the UN say that 600 protesters were killed during the wave of violence and demand that the government’s actions be investigated by international investigators.

The trains start rolling to Djibouti

October 5

The new railway between Addis Ababa and the port of Djibouti will be put into operation. The hope is that the railroad, built with Chinese assistance, will provide an economic boost in both countries. So far, 90 percent of Ethiopia’s coastal foreign trade has gone by truck to and from Djibouti, a time-consuming journey on bad roads.

Many killed at festival

October 2

More than 50 people are crushed to death when chaos arises at a religious festival for the Oromo people in the city of Bishoftu east of the capital Addis Ababa. Panic erupts when police and security forces with tear gas shoot participants who at the festival conduct a protest against the government. Hospital sources speak of at least 58 dead; eyewitnesses estimate that the death toll is significantly higher.


Opposition politicians arrested

August 29th

Police arrest two leaders of a political party representing the Agaw People’s Group in northern Amhara Province. The arrested are accused of encouraging rebellion against the government. Representatives of the arrested say the charges are invented to silence the opposition in Amhara.

Protests in the north

1 August

Tens of thousands of Amharis participate in a demonstration against the government in the northern city of Gondar, local media reports. The Amharas, who are considered discriminated against by the government, have been upset by a decision to transfer a district in their area to the neighboring Tigray region. The Amharas are second only to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.


HRW accuses the government of protesters death

June 16

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses the Ethiopian authorities of killing at least 400 people since November 2015 in the wake of government-critical demonstrations. The organization also claims that tens of thousands of people have been arrested during the same period in the Oromia region (see December 2015). The government rejects the allegations and says the figures are “generously increasing”. HRW bases its information on interviews with more than 125 people who participated in the protests or otherwise suffered from the violence.

Hard border battles against Eritrea

June 14

Eritrea and Ethiopia accuse each other of having attacked the common border in an area called Tsorona. Hundreds of people are estimated to have been killed in what is described as the toughest clashes since the 1998-2000 war. Eritrea claims at least 200 Ethiopians have been killed and over 300 injured. Ethiopia gives no figures on losses but threatens Eritrea with much tougher intervention if the fighting continues.

Lost children free

June 9

The UN Children’s Fund Unicef ​​says that 88 of 136 children who were robbed during raids, carried out by the majority people from South Sudan, into Ethiopia (see April 2016) have been released in South Sudan and returned home. Most children are between three and five years old. Unicef ​​says the releases have taken place after negotiations with the kidnappers.


Many dead in raids from South Sudan

April 18

The government says more than 200 people were killed and more than 100 children were robbed when armed men from the South Sudanese murle group made raids into Ethiopian land in the western Gambella region. Over 2,000 livestock animals must also have been stolen. The attacks must have been directed at villages inhabited by the Nuer people, who live on both sides of the border.


Plans for the capital are being scrapped

January 12

The protests against plans to expand Addis Ababa’s area lead to the government and the Oromia region withdrawing the proposal. The unrest has claimed up to 140 lives according to human rights groups.

Ethiopia Agriculture and Fishing