The Triumphant Journey of Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project

  1. Introduction

The command area of Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project incorporates some areas of South Omo Zone (Selamago and Gnangatom Districts), Bench Maji Zone (Surma and Mienitshasha Districts ) and Keffa Zone (Diecha District) of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State of Ethiopia.


1.1 The Land Selected

According to the revised plan of the sugar development sector the command area of the project selected for the construction of four sugar factories, one with 24,000 TCD and the rest three with 12,000, is 100,000 hectares where cane cultivation is going on. The area of the project is very close to the Kenyan border which strategically makes export to the neighboring countries easier. The landscape of the selected sugarcane cultivation field is a plane one making cane farming through canal irrigation much convenient.

1.2 Population

The data gathered on a survey issued in 2011 shows that the population of the aforementioned districts which the command area of the project encircles is less than 279,026. Less than 53,596 people are expected living around the actual project command area.

1.3 Population Density

The areas mentioned above are very sparsely populated and the average population density of the districts as a whole is 9.6 persons per kilometer square. When it comes to the selected actual point of land of the command area the population density will definitely get much lower. Therefore, there has been actually no need for massive villagization, let alone resettlement program while Ethiopian Sugar Corporation has been carrying out the project work during the last six years.

1.4 Practice of Locals for Living

irrThe majority of the locals living in and around the command area of the project are pastoralists leading their lives wandering around searching for grazing land and water of their cattle. Besides, they had been repeatedly exposed to shortage of food due to erratic rainfall. Prior to the inception of the project there was no significant crop production going on in the project command area districts except small amount of crops grown using flood retreat farming. Therefore, by then those living on agriculture were very insignificant in number. And, the main food sources for the households were market crops, livestock products such as milk & meat. It is rather with the inception of the sugar development project that many have become familiar with crop farming being allotted with irrigable land from the Project. Currently they, growing sugarcane at their allotted irrigable land, are waiting their turn to supply it to Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory One and Two.   

1.5 UNESCO Registered Heritages

The national as well as internationally registered heritages of the country of natural, cultural and religious nature around the project area have been preserved well all the way since the start of the Project. Therefore, there has never been no internationally as well as nationally registered historical, cultural, archeological or religious site affected due to the project.

1.6 The Omo River and Lake Turkana

An Italian company- SGI Studio Galli Ingegeneria which had conducted a study on Omo River for 20 years has proved that the river’s water discharging capacity per second is 5,000 Cubic Meter. And, the amount of water which shall be used for the whole sugarcane cultivation activity will only reach around 4% of the discharged amount and out of it 30% will later on go back to the river course, irrigating the cane cultivation field. Hence, the impact of the project on Lake Turkana is very insignificant.    

2. The Sugar Dev’t Sector During the GTPs

2.1 A Glimpse at the Sector During the First GTP

A national survey conducted regarding the sector has confirmed that Ethiopia has more than 500,000 hectares of land suitable for sugarcane development. And, the abundant water resource, suitable climate and untouched fertile as well as irrigable land needed for the sector which the nation is naturally endowed with have demanded a strategic plan that has enabled the country to utilize this huge potential effectively. Accordingly, the first Five Years Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) the FDRE government had set were highly cognizant of these potential of the nation for the sector. 

shchoolThe sector is one among other key development issues, in the long run, believed to play a pivotal role in transforming the country’s economy to the level of those countries with middle income. This is because that the ten new sugar factories the nation had planned to build at the start of the GTP and been actively engaged in together with the concluded expansion projects on its existing sugar factories help the nation a great deal in not only doing away with the import of sugar but also enable it to export sugar to the international market in the very near future.

Moreover, the wide job opportunities the sector was proved capable of creating to citizens of the nation and the electric power these factories will in the end generate and send to the national grid will also play a significant role to the country’s move to become an economy of industry-led one. Therefore, as the sector is an indispensible one to the effort the country has aggressively been exerting to get rid of poverty, it has, since at the outset, won the full commitment of the FDRE Government. And, to attain the aforementioned goals with regard to the sector, the nation has been actively engaged in building ten sugar factories since the kickoff of the First GTP.

Hence, Ethiopian Sugar Corporation, since the start of the First GTP, has been constructing four sugar factories at Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project among which three with a capacity of 12,000 TCD (Tone of Cane Crushed per Day) and one with 24,000 TCD.

Among them Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Two has started production in March, 2017 while Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory One has carried out trial production by end of June, 2017.

om1And, during the First GTP the nation has concluded the expansion work of Wonji Shoa Sugar Factory in which the two pioneering sugar factories namely Wonji and Shoa sugar factories both of which had been built more than sixty years before are replaced by a new and modern Wonji Shoa Sugar Factory with 12,000 TCD. The two old sugar factories had a design capacity of only 3000 TCD altogether. Wonji had seized production in mid 2012 while Shoa did the same in mid 2013.

The other sugar factory which had undergone through an expansion work was Fincha Sugar Factory in which it had been transformed from 5,000 to 12,000 TCD.

Moreover, efforts made during the First GTP have enabled the nation to make new sugar factories operational namely - Tendaho, Kessem and Arjo Diedessa sugar factories into regular production by 2014/15.

On the other hand, the cane cultivation expansion work carried out in line with the factory expansion job has enabled 65,363 hectares of land to be covered with cane. The land covered with cane at the start of the GTP was only 30,397 hectares and it, compared with the current coverage, shows 215% growth. 

Likewise, the 2 million 903 thousand 740 quintals of sugar which had been produced in mid 2010 had reached 4 million quintals by mid 2015.

2.2 The Sector in the Second GTP

om3The endeavor of the nation on the sugar development sector has now proved promising when it is observed at the second year of the Second Growth and Transformation Period. Taking a lesson from practice, the nation, since the First GTP till now, has built and made operational four sugar factories (Tendaho, Kessem, Arjo Didessa and Omo-Kuraz Factory Two) while one (Omo-Kuraz Factory One) has carried out trial production.

Moreover, Omo- Kuraz Factory Three which’s construction works are undergoing at Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development is expected to enter operation till end of 2017 while the factory construction works of Tana Beles One and Two; Omo-Kuraz Five as well as Wolkayit sugar factories are going on and all are expected to be operational till mid 2020.

Vis-à-vis the factory construction work carried out since the start of the First GTP the nation has been constructing three big dams among which the Tendaho, Kessem-Kebena as well as the temporary dam of Omo are completed while the construction of two dams namely Wolkayit and Arjo Didessa is underway.

And, both residential and non-residential or service giving blocks which are 3,363 and 85 in number respectively and accommodate hundreds and thousands of employees and their families have also been built at all project sites.

Hence, many international companies are now showing interest to participate in the sector either in joint venture or foreign direct investment(FDI) modalities while some are signing Memorandum of Understanding /MoU/. One foreign company is making itself ready to engage in Ethanol production at Wonji Shoa Sugar Factory in joint venture modality.

3. The Triumphant Journey of Omo-Kuraz Sugar Dev’t Project

 3.1 Efforts Made to Address Social Responsibilities

siraedelThe FDRE government, while launching Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project and also other projects some six years back, gave priority to all forms of benefit of natives of the project areas. Accordingly, prior to the inception of the project, the Government had held successive discussions with the locals of the area as well as the concerned people and had started running the project getting their full consent.

As the majority of the people living in and around the command area of the project were pastoralists leading their lives wandering around searching for grazing land and water of their cattle there had never been any resettlement program around that had caused displacement. What in fact there was is a villagization program with willing natives.

And, it is with the inception of Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project that locals in and around the project areas got the privileges of various infrastructures and social services such as schools, road, health stations of both human and cattle, flour mills, potable water, ponds, cattle-crossing structures, irrigable land, etc. There are about 167 students enrolled at Aligobiya Elementary School which was established in 2011/12 and found at Selamago District of Village Two. And the first enrolled have now completed fourth grade schooling.

Hence, the youth of these pastoralists have now got the chance to be enrolled in schools constructed around while other social service institutions built at their localities have made the lives of all natives of the project area much easier.

Moreover, to enable the locals become semi pastoralists, Ethiopian Sugar Corporation has made irrigable land ready to them. And, as the natives of the command area were unfamiliar with farming specially plowing, the Corporation had delivered farming skill training program which now-a-days has enabled them to cultivate crops of their own choice.

sharamapicThe successive experience sharing programs of natives travelling to one of the nation’s pioneering sugar factory- Wonji Shoa Sugar Factory has brought about attitudinal shift from the locals so that they became more eager to see the factory under construction at their place start producing sugar. And they have now seen their dreams being realized with the Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Two entering production.

Natives of the project area, organized in sugarcane out growers associations and cultivating cane, are now ready to supply it to the Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Two which has started production. Till to date sugarcane out growers organized in three associations which have 1,067 members in total are cultivating cane at 864.75 hectares of land of the Project. 

Training of natives of the project area as well as the surrounding locals in various skills such as tractor operation, machine operation and other professions relevant to the sugar development sector is the other approach made to meet the social responsibilities of Ethiopian Sugar Corporation. 

Hence, both the direct and indirect wide job opportunities created due to the Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project is benefitting the locals as well as citizens around greatly. And, 50,692 citizens have got job opportunities till mid 2017 organized in micro and small enterprises. Among them 81,661 are recruited at the project on permanent, contract as well as seasonal basis.

The construction of a sack manufacturing factory by Ethiopian Metals and Engineering Corporation at Jinka town of South Omo Zone which has created wide job opportunities to the youth of the zonal administration and others as well as the opening of a vocational technical school at this same town is worth mentioning to show the multifaceted growth the sector is bringing to the area.  

The market linkage created due to the construction of various infrastructures which are crucial to the sugar development project is the other advantage locals get and thereby become able to sale their products such as livestock, honey, etc at a fair price.

Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project has brought with it an overall development to the zonal administration too. Hence, many hotels, service giving institutions, vocational technical schools and factories such as a sack factory are now working at Jinka Town which is centre town of the zonal administration. Furthermore, an airport constructed at Jinka Towen has started giving service while  a referral hospital is under construction which are the fruits of the Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project.

3.2.  Efforts Made to Realize the Goal Set

1.Construction of Infrastructures

As the area where the Omo- Kuraz Sugar Development Project is so remote to urban areas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State carrying out the various works of the project is not imaginable without constructing infrastructures such as roads, telephone lines, electricity, Internet Network, etc. Therefore, construction of various infrastructures is one among other major efforts made to realize the goal set at the project.

2. Construction of Dams and Weirs

The ongoing construction of a water weir after constructing cofferdam at Omo River is one major effort made to cultivate 100,000 hectares of the Project’s cane cultivation land. Moreover, the construction of a small earth dam, intake structure and irrigation canal at Sharma River, a tributary to Omo River and which enables the project to cultivate sugarcane at 10,000 hectares of land, is constructed using the Corporation’s as well as Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Three’s own capacity.

3. Construction of Canals

Long kilometers stretched canals of main, secondary as well as tertiary levels are constructed to cultivate the wide sugarcane cultivation field of the project.

Canal structures capable of cultivating 25,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation field are constructed till mid 2017 while the work is going on to irrigate the whole plantation field of the project.

4. Construction of Residential & Non-residential Houses

The building of residential and non residential houses to accommodate thousands of employees of the project is the other effort made to see the goal set realized. Till now there are around 1,016 residential and 11 non residential houses constructed at the project.

5. Plantation of Sugarcane 

Till June, 2017, 14,000 hectares of land is covered with sugarcane out of the total 100,000 hectares of land to be cultivated at the Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project.

6. Construction of Sugar Factories

6.1 Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Two

One among the four sugar factories planned to be constructed at Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project i.e. Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Two with 12,000 TCD has started production in March, 2017. The construction work of the Factory is being carried out by a Chinese Company- COMPLANT.

6.2 Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory One

Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory One with similar crushing design capacity has carried out trial sugar production by end of June, 2017. Metals and Engineering Corporation, a government institution, is carrying out the factory construction work.

6.3 Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Three

The construction of the third sugar factory i.e. Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Three has reached 80% till June, 2017. Same Chinese company- COMPLANT is constructing the construction work. It is expected to enter production by the end of 2017.

6.4 Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Five

The construction work of the fourth sugar factory which is expected to enter regular production in 2020 with 24,000 TCD has begun a few months before the end of 2016.  The factory construction work is being carried out by-Chinese Company known as JJIEC.

The Way Forward

om11Ethiopian Sugar Corporation is looking forward to work with domestic as well as foreign companies in the sector either in joint venture or else in foreign direct investment.

Currently, a German company- Eugen Schmitt Company, signing a memorandum of understanding with Ethiopian Sugar Corporation to work in joint venture modality, has started work to build an ethanol plant at Wonji Shoa Sugar Factory while some have signed MoU and many other foreign companies showing interest to do same.

The nation is awaiting partner companies to take part either direct in the sector or in manufacturing using by-products and co-products of sugar as inputs.

The journey started at Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project where there has never been any kind of infrastructure was the toughest one unlike other projects.

Though full of ups and downs as the project area had been in accessible, the locals, around as well as the Ethiopian Government’s relentless effort has now bore sweet fruit! And, it will soon flourish even more! THE JOURNEY OF OMO-KURAZ SUGAR DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IS PROCEEDING PROVING ITSELF TRIUMPHANT!!!


omoHave you ever imagined sugar needs an axe than a spoon for consumption? But this had happened in earlier days of sugar production. Had you lived that time you would have used a “sugar axe” first  and thereafter a spoon to stir your cup of tea or coffee.

Thanks to technological innovations of our days, sugar is now-a-days produced in the form of grain or powder. But before engulfing the globe, this sweetener is said to be originated from India. And, during the aforementioned old days sugar was produced in the form of bar than grains like today.

Sugar is an ordinary sweetener today and found in almost every body`s house. However, it was a luxury in earlier times. It was available only in the houses of the royal families or the rich. As it was expensive it was called “the white gold”. There were even times during which sugar was deposited in a saving account.

During the Napoleonic wars sugar was once more at scarce in Europe. Emperor Napoleon blocked some routes of trade. As this blockade continues sugar scarcity increased in the continent. It is during this time that European countries extracted sugar from sugar beet. Gradually sugar production started from other sources including maize.

As technology improves through time price of sugar has been showing decreasement from what it had been. Accordingly, the need for sugar increased. Number of sugar factories and varieties of production qualities have flourished. But, as demand of people due to population growth and increment of  the number of other factories which use the product as an input increased it is given that shortage occurs at times.

When we come to the case of Ethiopia, the sugar industry is more than 60 years old. When the industry began sugar was given for free for promotional purposes and thereby introduce the then public with the product. Gradually compatriots have habituated to sugar. Renowned vocalists like Minilik Wessinachew   singing about the sweetness of sugar, is worth mentioning here as a proof of   the then society’s growing love for the product.

However, the number of factories (Wonji Shoa, Metahara and Fincha) stayed there where they had been contrary to increasing number of industries which use sugar as an input as well as number of people in need of sugar. With this reality in mind it was a must that Ethiopia with its economy ever growing, should set up additional sugar factories.

Cognizant of this fact the Government of Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia has been building ten new sugar factories in lowland areas of the country. It also has carried out  expansion works on the existing sugar factories of Wenji Shoa and Fincha. As a result of these four new sugar factories (Tendaho, Arjo Diddessa, Kessem and Omo-Kuraz 2) have entered into production during the last four years. This has increased the number of sugar  factories into seven.

Six other new sugar factories which are expected to be completed by 2020 including those  which are made operational are altogether expected to produce 28 million quintals of sugar by the end of the second GTP i.e. in 2020. This in addition to satisfying the country`s needs, is expected to generate foreign currency.

One of the sugar factories that doubled the numbers of the sugar factories in Ethiopia is Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Number Two. It is one of the four sugar factories which are under construction at Omo-Kuraz sugar Development Project.

When FDRE Prime Minister H.E Ato Haile-Mariam Dessalegn visited this factory which is 900km away from Addis Ababa in December 2016, he had disclosed his hope in seeing  the Factory producing sugar in two months time and promised to pay a visit to it once more. When he returned with the Sudanese President Omar Hassen Al Bashir two months later in March, 2017 he found his expectations being practical and he eye witnessed the Factory’s sugar production.

Of course the factory has not started production in its full capacity and is currently on trial production. And, it is working good as a beginner.

Setting different machineries  is part and parcel of job in establishing a sugar factory for it needs harmonized works starting from planting sugar cane on a very large hectares of land to constructing long kilometers  stretched irrigation infrastructures of  different levels, houses of  residential and non-residential type to thousands of employees and their families, and the like. From this fact one can guess that there could be more ups and downs for a sugar factory to become fully operational.

Passing through all these stages, the beginning of production of sugar on Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Number Two spreads rays of hope to the nation that has planned to produce 28 million quintals of sugar at the end of the second GTP or in 2020 . It is a great herald to the future of the sector in the nation.

Omo-Kuraz Sugar factory the construction of which began in July, 2014 by the Chinese company- COMPLANT is now more than 94% complete. Entering into regular production soon, it starts crushing 6 thousand 500 tons of sugar cane daily. Later on it operates with full crushing design capacity i.e. 12 thousand tons of sugar cane daily. Hence, it produces 2.5 million quintals of sugar a year. 28 million liters of ethanol is expected to be produced yearly when it will have an ethanol producing plant. When fully operatonal it as well generates 60 megawatts of electricity and out of these it uses only 20 megawatts for itself and sends the remaining 40 to the national grid.

Generally speaking Omo-Kuraz Sugar Factory Number Two  has become a great ray of hope to all sugar factories under construction in Ethiopia namely: Omo_ Kuraz one, three and five; Tana Beles one and two as well as Welkayit Sugar factories.

The Industry with Scores of Benefits

IMG 3333Sugar Industry is one of the industries which contribute immensely for the industrial transformation of our country. The country has huge labor and resources like water, suitable climate and ideal landscape to expand this export-oriented manufacturing industry. It has to be done hand in hand with increasing productivity.

Ethiopia has favorable climate for sugar cane development. It also has more than 500 thousand hectares of irrigable land suitable for the sector. Moreover, it has abundant untapped water resource. These make the sector seek more attention and a coordinated effort. Till the downfall of the former regime, sugar factories in Ethiopia were limited to Wonji Shewa and and Matahara only. It was then that Fincha Sugar Factory has come into existence. But, starting from 2010 the government has expanded the industry to regions like S/N/N/P, Oromiya, Afar, Amhara and Tigray.
The industry in addition to producing sugar produces numerous by-products and co products. Few among them are power, animal feed, ethanol, inputs for paint ,glass and other products.

There is an amazing difference when we compare the current escalating sugar demand and the promotional free tea service which was supplied about 62 years ago solely to introduce the product with fellow citizens. It was very tough to tell and convince people to use sugar.

DSC 0001 1Sugar industry is started in Ethiopia when the then Ethiopian government signed a share holding agreement with The Dutch's H.V.A company in 1951. The Company started the job taking 5,000 hectares of land for sugar cane cultivation 110 km away from Addis Ababa. Accordingly, the first sugar factory in Ethiopia- Wonji Sugar Factory started production on March, 20 1962.

Next to it, Shewa Sugar Factory was set up at the same venue in 1963. But Wonji and Shewa sugar factories, till their closure, had a unified management. They had been producing about 750 thousand quintals of sugar per annum. But, operation of these factories terminated in 2011 and 2012 respectively for they were very obsolete. A new factory which had been under construction and commence production in 2013 replaced them.

Cognizant of the benefits of sugar industry in Ethiopia, the Dutch Company built another sugar factory about 200 km from the Metropolitan in Matahara. The Factory began operation in 1970.

Latter on the valley of Fincha was studied in the early 1980s. The study carried out proved that it has higher potential for sugar production. Hence, Fincha Sugar Factory was set up and began production in 1998.

aiUnderstanding the high potential the country has, the government of F.D.R.E has set up Tendaho Sugar factory in Regulation No. 122/98 in Afar Regional State. It is a two-phased huge factory. By the time it starts working with its full capacity, it uses sugar cane developed on 50 thousand hectares of land as an input and produces 6 million 190 thousand quintals of sugar and 63 thousand liters of ethanol annually. The construction of the first phase of the factory is completed. It is now carrying out trial production.

Even though the sugar industry in Ethiopia is more than half a century old, it is not developed as it is needed. Moreover, the country`s rapid development has sky rocketed the sugar demand. As a result the production of existing sugar factories couldn`t satisfy the local demand. The newly expanding industries which use sugar as a raw material have also worsen the shortage.

Therefore; the government has been importing and supplying sugar to the market with a subsidized price for a couple of years so as to fill in the gap. But, importing is not a permanent solution. Therefore, the Government has given more attention for sugar industries in the manufacturing sector as it is stated in the First Growth and Transformation Plan.

In the mean time, the effort exerted to narrow this gap between sugar supply and demand has paved a situation for the government to create wide job opportunities for citizens. With regard to job creation, especial attention has been given to people around the sugar development areas.

kesThere is also a plan to export sugar as a foreign exchange earning commodity. In this aspect the government is extensively carrying out the various activities of the sector which could be termed as “Sugar Revolution”. It is investing huge capital in the low land areas of the country. One among these is the building of the very huge Tendaho Sugar Factory.

Parallel to this the government has modernized Wenji Shewa and Fincha`a sugar factories. The capacities of the two factories have increased greatly. Consequently, the annual sugar production has grown to four million quintals in 2015 from what it had been 2 million 903 thousand 740 quintals in 2009.

On the other hand, building of Kessem and Arjo Sugar Factories had been completed in the first G.T.P. and started production. The first phase of the construction of Tendaho Sugar factory is completed and is expected to start regular production soon.

During the first G.T.P, additional 65 thousand 363 hectares of land is covered with sugar cane. The land covered with cane before the start of the first G.T.P was only 30 thousand 397 hectares. The growth registered is 215%.

By 2009 annual ethanol production was 7 million 117 thousand liters. In 2015 it has increased to 19 million 804 thousand liters a year. 18 million 480 thousand liters is used as fuel blended with benzene.

Concerning co-generation, Wenji Shewa and Fincha sugar factories have not only become self sufficient in power production but they are also sending 31 megawatts of power to the national electric grid.

Another development registered in the industry is the research work that has increased the productivity of sugar cane. Construction of coffer dams, diversion weir, infra structure of huge irrigation canals, internal roads, houses and factories as well as land preparation have been done extensively because of which small towns are flourishing.

woIn terms of benefiting the society, social institutions like schools, health centers of both human and cattle, grain mills, potable water, etc and infrastructures like roads, telecommunication lines, electricity, etc are also set up rendering service to localities living around. Due to these life standard of the people is improving. Children of the local community have been trained and deployed at factories and projects as tractor operators, carpenters, security personnel, etc while others are working as cane out growers are allotted with irrigable land.

As well, youth of the localities have organized themselves in micro and medium organizations and are taking part in the development activities. They are currently benefiting themselves and their families from this. The communities are also benefiting producing crops like maize, sorghum, etc using the irrigable land Sugar Corporation has made available to them. They have paid a work visit to Wenji Shewa Sugar Factory cane out growers and have shared their experience.

As for creation of job opportunity, 350 thousand job opportunities were created in the past five years around sugar development projects and factories. The opportunities created were on permanent, seasonal and contract basis.

Despite the fact that the desired result had not been achieved by the end of the first GTP due to different reasons, conducive conditions have been created to enable Ethiopia become one of the best ten countries in producing sugar by 2023.

In the Second GTP wide range of activities are being carried out to finalize the works of the already started sugar development projects. These include the sugar development projects at different stages of construction levels like Tendaho Phase 1, Omo Kuraz 1,2,3 & 4, Tana Beles 1 and 2 as well as Welkayit sugar factories.

These extensive works are expected to increase annual sugar production in the country. Hence, beyond fulfilling the local market, it is also planned to export sugar. Regarding sugar cane development, it is planned to cultivate 211 thousand 564 hectares. This makes the total area covered with sugar cane to rise to 307 thousand 324 hectares.

Moreover, activities like ethanol production, power supply, irrigation infrastructures, housing, etc are planned to be carried out at a large scale which paves way to communities around to participate in the activities and thereby benefit themselves. This includes the 637 thousand new job opportunities to be created to citizens.

o1Sugar Corporation, which was set up in 2010 has been leading the sector carrying out different development activities. These works range from construction of new factories, expansion of existing factories, building various infrastructures and social service institutions etc. But it is not enough when the number of factories which have entered into operation is considered and the low sugar and sugar by-product production is compared to the plan first set at the start of the First G.T.P. And, this implies that it has to be done more vigorously.

Taking this all into consideration, the government believes to do many radical changes to achieve the goals set in the second GTP at the sugar industry sector. One among the changes is creating an organizational structure which handles the mission properly. So the Corporation has currently organized itself in a new structure which enables it carry out multi sectoral activities and expand sugar development as required.

Capital Intensive Sugar Projects Still Bearing Fruit

Never once in Ethiopian modern history that the nation has embarked on a capital intensive and with so many sugar development projects except during the kick off the First G.T.P.

The nation was introduced with the industry some sixty years back working with the Netherland¢s Company - H.V.A. in a joint venture modality. And, the construction of sugar industries in Ethiopia by then and the following years thereafter was on “one at a time” basis only while the constructions of the sugar factories were carried out by foreign companies.

Unlike the history of the constructions of the nation¢s sugar industry the spine-breaking G.T.P. of the sugar sector has aimed at building ten sugar factories within five years at selected areas of the various regions of the nation which are located at areas devoid of infrastructures. Lack of domestic exposure to such sophisticated industry construction as well as the burden of building various infrastructures prior constructing the factories have made running the sector more cumbersome and time consuming than any other mega project of the G.T.P.

The other factor that makes the sector the most huge one is that it calls for building dams and/or diversion weirs; constructing long distance stretched big, medium as well as small canals; land leveling and cane plantation work on a very wide area of land; construction of both residential and non-residential houses in hundreds; construction of hospitals, health stations, schools of different levels, internal roads, potable water and many more service giving institutions as the sector deploys thousands of personnel and their families. Hence, it is much easier to say that building a single sugar factory is like building a town.

Some who have been in the leadership of sugar factories for long used to be heard saying “ Being a General Manager at Sugar Factory is Being a Mayor ” And, it is because that a manager of a sugar factory not only manages the routine business of the factory and the very wide cane plantation field but also oversees the day to day lives of the personnel’s and their household needs such as water and power supply, security, market and transport as well as school access, hygiene, various sport fields and so many others a certain community demands to get as a necessity as well as luxury. 

Hence, since establishment, Sugar Corporation together with domestic as well as foreign stake holders has accomplished so many tasks which lay the favorable situation to exploit this export-oriented sugar industry. And, so far many encouraging results are registered. 

Among these the basic infrastructural development and social service facilities so far constructed can be considered as great achievements attained for it was too hard to see any social service and basic infrastructure in the areas where sugar development projects are currently operating.

2f2f3The other achievement gained is the entrance of Arjo Didessa, Kessem and Tendaho sugar factories into operation among them some with minor limitations though they could not narrow the unmatched domestic demand and supply relations of the sugar product. The aforementioned three sugar factories in operation, as it is the nature of the industry, will reach their maximum crushing design capacity through a very short period of time. It is one step ahead to hear about sugar product not from the old Wonji Shewa, Metehara and Fincha sugar factories we were familiar for about 20 to 60 years but from other three new factories.

The Completion of expansion projects of Fincha and Wonji Shewa sugar factories with the later one replaced by new and modern sugar factory was made possible during the First G.T.P. Hence, currently two expansion projects and three new factories with total installed crushing capacity of 36,250 tons of cane a day are operational. Before the establishment of Sugar Corporation the three old factories had only a total crushing capacity of 13,900 tons of cane a day. Likewise, as their project progress report indicates, 3 other new factories such as Omo-Kuraz One and Omo-Kuraz Two as well as Tana Beles One sugar factories with installed crushing capacity of 36,000 tons of cane a day are expected to be operational in near future.  

With regard to Irrigation infrastructure of the sector, our country had only 30,397 hectares of irrigable land for cane plantation before the kick off the First GTP which so far has reached 95,760 hectares.

And, as cane development, currently the land covered with cane is 95,760 hectares. It was only 30,397 hectares some six years back.

Concerning the construction of houses for sugar factories personnel, the Corporation has built 4,218 residential houses and 107 non-residential buildings till to date. And the construction of 2,526 residential and 67 non-residential houses is in progress and will be completed soon.

As any developing nation Ethiopia has a problem of unemployment. And, when exploiting the potential of the nation for sugar development sector is envisaged   minimizing the number of unemployment of the nation greatly is one among many other targets aimed at. Hence, the sugar industry sector can be taken as the only single sector that has created huge volume of job opportunities to the citizens for the last five years. So far, the sector has created direct job opportunities to more than 350,000 citizens. Moreover, due to these projects hundreds of thousands of citizens are enabled to make their daily breads. One has to note that the sector involves from highly skilled foreign as well as domestic professionals to daily laborers in tens of thousands of numbers.

As mentioned above all new sugar development projects are being carried out at selected remote areas identified as best suitable for the sector while all in all they had been devoid of any infrastructure and social service institution. Accordingly, construction of social infrastructures and community facilities is the other huge task carried out by the Corporation to ensure community benefits.

In this regard, 286 social infrastructures and facilities (such as schools, potable water and ponds for people and cattle respectively, flour mills, health posts of both human and cattle, training centers, association shops, roads, etc.) and 524.5 hectares of irrigated land is provided to households living around the factories and projects to cultivate any crop they choose. Furthermore, 11,817 households residing around sugar factories/projects are organized in 75 sugarcane out-grower associations getting irrigable land from the Corporation and in some projects they have already tested the benefit supplying cane to factories.

Social InstitutionsThe other task Sugar Corporation has been carrying with regard to community benefit is resettling them where ever it is only necessary by building various infrastructures and social institutions as well as effecting compensation to their properties at household levels.

Moreover, the Corporation has been engaged in building dams and constructing large irrigation schemes to realize the goal set in the sector at the various regions of the nation. It is the other huge task the Corporation has been shouldered with. And, this engagement of the Corporation, beyond the sector, has been seen bearing fruit in coping up; though not avoid the impact of the 2015/16 El Nino weather. The very significant role played by sugar factories such as Metehara, Kessem, Tendaho sugar factories as well as Tana Beles and  Wolkayit Sugar Development Projects in assisting natives around them exposed to the drought by supplying water, top sugarcanes, molasses as well as bundles of hays to their cattle is worth mentioning as fruit of every effort of the Corporation.

f6So, one has to bear in mind that these all huge tasks which are also very many in number Sugar Corporation has been engaged in for the last six years could not be imagined without an intensive capital. 

These all does not mean that Sugar Corporation has no setbacks while executing such huge projects at a time. It shares the lack of capacity in skilled man power the nation as a developing country is still facing that can administer such huge as well as more complicated tasks which call for a much synchronized project activities progress as well as the technology gap. Therefore, problems reflected in project activities, lack of knowledge in project management and contract administration is the main failures seen in the Corporation while turnover of skilled man power in the sector is the other problem reflected.

On the other hand, as it is explicitly mentioned above no domestic sugar factory-constructing contractor had been involved in the building of the pioneer sugar factories of the nation. And, it is for the first time as a nation that an Ethiopian sugar factory-constructing contractor - Metals and Engineering Corporation- METEC has engaged itself in the sector as a beginner i.e. during the kick off the first G.T.P.

f7This has opened a new chapter in the nation¢s history of sugar development endeavor as we had been used to be just recipient of technologies where there was no technology transfer. This is a big leap as a nation though there is a failure in meeting the schedule with our domestic contractor in completing construction of sugar factories.

One should not skip over that those nations known building sugar factories including fabrication of a very complicated and sophisticated machineries of the industry has more than a century of experience in the construction business of the industry. The main issue to regret over is the foreign currency we as a nation are being obliged to spend to import sugar from abroad while by now we should have had started exporting it. And, that is the lesson Sugar Corporation as well as METEC including other stakeholders should draw from the challenges they faced as well as the results they have registered so far so that realizing the goal set in the sector is possible from now on as the sector has started bearing fruit though not at a full scale.


Here one can notice that the foreign currency Sugar Corporation has recently started getting from merely exporting one of the many other by-products of sugar- Molasses let alone the main product. Currently, the Corporation, reaching on an agreement with Rownet Business PLC on February, 2016, has began exporting molasses to Europe in which from 100 to 120 thousand tones of molasses will be exported to England annually enabling the Corporation or the nation earn more than 17,000,000 USD yearly. Note that molasses is one among other by-products of Sugar. United Molasses Limited of England, a renowned company in molasses treading worldwide receiving the molasses exported distributes to the European countries which are refining 80% of the world molasses supply. And, this trade transaction sometime in the future may attract these refining companies to invest here in Ethiopia building their factories as we are more accessible than other molasses exporting sugar producing countries.

f9As explicitly mentioned above the huge activities carried out since the First G.T.P. with large personnel of the sector cannot be imagined unless and otherwise the nation has allocated the necessary budget. And, the nation has done so to the sector and the sector is now close to blossom as envisaged at the start. Nonetheless, both Sugar Corporation as well as METEC need close support and follow up from the concerned government bodies. Now it is the momentum. It is crystal clear that the sugar development sector is the first and foremost capital intensive project both in the first as well as second G.T.P. But NOTE that the capital intensive sugar development sector i.e. the WHITE GOLD which has been in the making is still bearing FRUIT! It is to BLOSSM SOON!!!

Sugarcane Large Irrigation Schemes Easing Impact of El Nino

The 2015 El Nino weather pattern, affecting the weather of some areas around the world, has exposed especially many parts east Africa to severe drought disturbing their seasonal rainfall. Tremendously lowering the volume of the rivers water was one among many others the impact of this catastrophic weather pattern is seen surfacing at this part of Africa. El Nino generally affects the macro economy of different countries particularly of those with rain-driven agricultural commodities.

On the other hand, big dams with large irrigation infrastructures constructed to  halt the flow of water of rivers uncontrolled but rather use this resource wisely and efficiently play a very significant role to cope up the drought that usually follow the aforementioned weather pattern especially on those dependant on such agricultural practices.

Bodi native taking care of his Maize plantation fieldEthiopia is one among many other nations which have faced drought due to the current weather pattern. On the other hand, the Nation, for the last decade, has been working robustly, though not enough, in building big dams and large irrigation schemes to use its abundant water resource efficiently. But, the severity of the 2015 El Nino is so high that Ethiopia’s great effort on the constructions could not stop, though minimize, the adversary impact of this unusual weather pattern in many cases except on Omo River where it has zero impact because of Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project.

According to the Head of South Omo Zone Adminstration , Ato Alemayehu Bawdi the Omo Kuraz Sugar Development Project has greatly helped all districts of South Omo Zone to do away with adverse impact of the current change of the weather that affect many parts of the nation where such large irrigation infrastructures are not available.

"As we are using irrigation infrastructures at Woitoo, Bezzo and Omo, we have faced no drought at all our districts", Ato Alemayehu added. Recalling the vulnerability of Selamago District earlier, following the start of the sugarcane plantation of the project we have never supplied food aid to the District, he says. "No shortage of either water or grazing land is reported till now” he has also disclosed, giving the credit to Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project.  

"The irrigation schemes of the above sugarcane plantation has enabled both former as well as new villages of the Bodi nationality, who were not familiar with farming, to harvest maize up to 70 quintals per hectare for the fifth round"  Ato Asres Adarro- Public Organization, Compensation and Rehabilitation Deputy General Manager of Kuraz-1 Sugar Development Project on his part says.

Chief Administrator of Selamago District, Ato Pashima Welkorro is another official who has shared his views on the project’s role in doing away with the impact of the current weather pattern at his district. He, recalling the now & then exposure of the district to food assistance prior to the inception of the Kuraz Sugar Development Project, discloses the zero impact of the current worldwide adversary weather pattern at the district due to the project. We used to supply food aid as the yearly maize harvest of the pastoralists at Omo-Shashi was meager to cover their annual demand, he further noted. According to him, pastoralists around  need no more now to wonder here and there in search of water or grazing land and it was all possible since the inception of the project.

Bodi youth getting access to schoolsBochi Doorba is a pastoralist of Bodi community and is one among many others who voluntarily have joined the villagization program. He recalls how much members of his community were skeptical when the project began at their area and how they were watchful on every activity of the project with uncertainty till their as well as members of Murssi community’s visit to Benna Tsemai, Dassenech and Gnangatom Weredas pastoralists of South Omo Zone who have become beneficiaries of the irrigation schemes earlier than them.

“We also have paid a visit to the pioneer of the sugar industry of the nation- Wonji Shewa Sugar Factory and share the rich experiences of the farmers around from whom we have learnt how the industry has enabled them to become self sufficient from their past experience of their repeated exposure to food aid ”, Bochi further went on saying. Requesting the Zone Administration and the project to participate in Kuraz Sugar Development Project and being handed over with 0.75 hectares of irrigable land cultivated with sugarcane, we are now waiting eagerly for the beginning of sugar production of the sugar mill currently under construction, he has also added. “We have also harvested Maize for the fourth round and are now preparing it for the fifth one with the help of the project while we are also taking care of the cane field parallel with the former” he also says. According to Bochi his kids are enrolled at the school constructed at his door steps and members of his community are no more moving far in search of water and grazing land for their cattle as ponds are made ready everywhere for this purpose.

1On the other hand, with regard to the amount of consumption of the Omo River to the large irrigation of the project Deputy General Manager of Construction of Irrigation and Maintenance of Kuraz-1 Sugar Development Project Ato Behailu Getachew on his part says the project, through its main and secondary canals, uses only 0.0023 meter cube water out of 22.76 meter cube it intakes from Omo River letting the rest to flow back to the River’s route.

When it comes, likewise, to Gibie River power production, the water directed for the purpose will normally go back to its usual course causing no variation on the amount of the River.

Ethiopia’s engagement in building dams and constructing large irrigation schemes for the past ten years especially in relation with sugarcane plantations at the various regions of the nation has bear fruit in coping up, though not avoid the impact of the 2015 El Nino weather. And hence, sugar factories such as Metehara, Kessem, Tendaho as well as Wolkayit Sugar Development Project have played a very significant role in assisting natives around them exposed to the drought by supplying water, top sugarcanes as well as bundles of hays to their cattle.

Potable water made accessible to nativesHad it not been for the construction of the large irrigation infrastructures and dams the nation has been carrying out especially for the last decade, the world would have heard the most horrible impact of El Nino on the nation, especially at arid areas, early in 2015. One can site here the role the Tendaho Dam of Tendaho Sugar Factory at Afar Regional State has played since the first two or three months of 2015 to date in easing the water shortage of natives arround and their cattle have been facing.

Hence, Ethiopia as the Water Tower of Africa is righteous in using its abundant water resource fairly. And, it is with this in mind and together with the vulnerability of the nation to repeated drought due to its dependence on the rain-driven agricultural practices that the FDRE Government has been engaged for more than ten years on using the nation’s water resource efficiently building big dams and large as well as small irrigation infrastructures which in the long run will definitely enable the nation to cope up with the adversary influences of worldwide weather changes like El Nino.

Kuraz Sugar Development Project where the nation is constructing five sugar factories, three with 12 thousand and two with 24 thousand TCD, has created job opportunities to 31,472 citizens.