Modernizing and transforming agriculture has been a generational effort skewed in the wrong direction. Production and productivity have been government’s mottos for decades, only to remain lip service. Practically, the farmer’s decision-making power has been overruled by the government with the use of extension programs. Government was not brave enough to consider the farmer as a private and for-profit actor due to political reasons.
As a result, the supply of agricultural inputs, consultancy, and technologies have been monopolized by the government and its extensive extension program. From importation to distribution, from improved seeds to fertilizers, from veterinary drugs to technologies, the agricultural input supply market is monopolized by inefficient state-owned enterprises with the partial involvement of local governments.
Affordable agricultural input is particularly critical for Ethiopia, where the land has been ploughed for millennia. Ethiopia’s small-scale dominated agriculture, where farmers’ per capita land area has diminished to just less than a hectare on average, requires intensive input use to achieve productivity. However, this cannot be achieved when the government is running an inefficient agricultural input market business. Over the last few years, the private sector has been highly interested in installing modern agricultural input shops as a viable business. EBR’s Ashenafi Endale explores the growing potential of private one-stop agricultural input shops in replacing government’s incapacitated role in agriculture.