News: House Committee finds illicit fertilizer trade in Amhara region, calls for swift measures in wake of farmers’ protests

Members of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Affairs of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) inspecting fertilizer stockpile in Amhara region. Photo: HoPR

Addis Abeba – Following an investigation into the recent shortage of fertilizer in the Amhara region, which led to protests by farmers in various cities and towns of the regional state, members of the Standing Committee on Agricultural Affairs of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) called for stringent measures against the illicit fertilizer trade currently plaguing the region.

On 30 May hundreds of protesting farmers took to the streets of the capital Bahir Dar and other parts of the region chanting slogans that they have been “waiting with hope” that they will receive fertilizer from one day to the next, but have run out of patience now; the farmers in Bahir Dar protest have also expressed their fears that the shortage may force them abandon farming preparations for the coming season in June-July. “Give us fertilizer”, “Solve the fertilizer problem!” were some of the banners on display.

The Parliament said today that members of the Committee, as part of inspection in the regional state, seized 4,165 quintals of undistributed fertilizer from the Degoy and Wetet Abay Cooperative Associations, located in the West Gojjam Zone, South and North Mecha districts. The fertilizer was found stockpiled in local warehouses, HoPR siad adding that district administrators cited insufficient quantities to meet the needs of all farmers as the rationale behind their decision to withhold distribution until more supplies arrived.

In light of this findings, the Chairman of the committee, Mubarek Elias, underscored the need for an equitable distribution system and condemned the practice of holding fertilizer stocks in warehouses. He also rallied farmers to combat and rectify the illegal fertilizer trade exacerbated by the ongoing supply shortage.

The committee also held further discussions with farmers’ representatives who expressed concern over the scarcity of fertilizer to plant corn seeds. The farmers also aired grievances about the fairness of the existing distribution system and the burgeoning illicit fertilizer market pervasive in the region.

Attempting to assuage the farmers’ concerns, Ajebe Senshaw, Deputy Head of the Amhara Regional Agriculture Bureau, reassured farmers, announcing the imminent import of 350 quintals of fertilizer into the region sometime this week.

This week, Ajebe admitted that anticipating that there will be no shortage of soil fertilizer in the current fiscal year, the region began to distribute what has arrived there “in large quantities” from central whorehouse to remote districts and zones, “which has also distorted the fairness of the distribution.”

He has appealed to farmers to remain patient during this time, HoPR said. AS

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