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.

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.  

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.

Reaping the Fruits of Sugar

Cases of South Omo and Afar Pastoralists

To any one critically looking at the development activities in Ethiopia, it is vivid enough to see that all development efforts are geared towards the nation’s constitution. Article 8 No.1 of the constitution states that nations, nationalities and peoples are the sole owners of power and have equal rights to benefit from the nation’s resources.

And hence, all development endeavors use the constitution as a spring board during planning and implementation. A typical example is the construction of infrastructures, social service giving institutions, etc. which are being directed towards reaching mainly the long marginalized parts of the society who had been leading their lives devoid  of any of these.

Some among these Ethiopian societies are the South Omo and Afar pastoralists. And, the Omo-Kuraz and Tendaho-Kessem sugar development projects, in addition to the nation’s overall strategic economic advantage, are aiming at doing away with the marginalization of those living in and around the projects’ command areas and also other neighboring people.

Unlike the biased and ill-motive outlooks of some foreign as well as domestic institutions, the South Omo and Afar marginalized communities have begun reaping the fruits of sugar even at the project’s early implementation stage. Since hearing from the horse’s mouth unravels the truth, let us have a glimpse at what these long forgotten pastoralists reflect regarding the respective sugar development projects carried out around them.

South Omo Pastoralists

kurazwefchoThe Omo-Kuraz Sugar Development Project command area covers some selected areas of the three zonal administrations of SNNP Region namely: South Omo, Bench-Maji and Keffa. And, Sugar Corporation has only begun its work at some selected areas of Selamago District of the South Omo. Hammer and Nyangatom districts of this same zone and others are eagerly waiting for the project to reach them too hearing about the blessings of Selamago.

Here we need to note that among the natives namely the Bodi, Mursi, Bacha & Dimme of Selamago, it is only some members of Dimme who are acquainted with agriculture while the rest are pastoralists who lead their lives wondering here and there in search of water and grazing land. And, no one here is going to be displaced due to the project except being able to have access, through the villagization program, to various infrastructures and social services to which they had never been privileged all their lives.

Alaykat Munissi is from the Bodi who joined the villagization program at Algobiya village voluntarily. When asked about her new way of life, she said “It is due to the project at Selamago that I and others got access to potable water, flour mills, schools, health stations etc.” She further went on saying “First, government officials came and discussed with us about the project and got our consent; then after, they made these facilities available before our arrival to the village”. Alaykat further added “My elder son is enrolled in the new school constructed at our village while my daughter is too young to go to”.

schoolAccording to Setotaw Garsho, Deputy Administrative Head of South Omo Zone , the villagization program which emanates from the nation’s as well as the region’s Agricultural Policy is being carried out in all the region including the command areas of the project.

Regarding the creation of job opportunities for the local people, among 101 staffs working at the sugarcane plantation, some of them are from Bodi. And, Gajjuwa Waranimeri who is from Bodi said “I earn 1,067 Birr monthly as a regular staff; and there are other ten workers from my fellow natives too”.

Furthermore, according to Nuredin Assaro, General Manager of the project, the corporation, in the short term, has made the necessary preparation to train as many natives as possible in various technical professions like painting, truck driving, etc. which relatively demand short term training.

IMG 2161Recently Sugar Corporation in collaboration with the SNNP Regional Government has enrolled around 202 youth selected from different districts of South Omo, Bench Maji & Keffa zones to Jinka Construction & Industrial College at which trainees are equipped with necessary knowledge substantiated by practical work. These youth were trained in building, plastering, painting etc. And, almost all of these trainees are now found working at the project in various professions.

Though the command area of the project at Selamago is very sparsely populated, Sugar Corporation and other stakeholders have given due attention to the movement of pastoralists’ cattle. Accordingly, cattle crossing structures are under construction over main and secondary canals and these structures are made at points of the land where the cattle of these pastoralists are earlier accustomed to use while they were moving around in search of water. At the same time, irrigable farm lands are ready to acquaint them with agriculture and help these inhabitants of the area become semi-pastoralist. Furthermore, as there is enough grazing land around, the corporation is making water ponds accessible to their cattle.   

Afar Pastoralists

Afar Region is one among others FDRE government has identified as an area of huge potential for sugar development. Therefore, Sugar Corporation is constructing two sugar factories namely Tendaho and Kessem.

afarThe government built Tendaho and Kessem-Kebenna Dams not only to cultivate sugarcane plantation for the factory, but also to make irrigable water accessible to natives which will have tremendous effect in changing the region’s ecology. And, this has come into the surface when one looks at Afar natives start tilling their land using the irrigated water.

Aba-Amin is one among other pastoralists of Kessem area who, trained in agriculture, has cultivated his land using the irrigation infrastructure made available. He said “getting three hectares of irrigable land from the government, I earned some 225,000 Birr from the onion I harvested last year; I only invested some 45,000 birr for that”. He further tells about how he had benefitted from the maize crop he had harvested earlier too. “ We are able to get irrigated water because the sugar development project started here;  before the project,  agriculture was not known here, and now we are not only participating on the cane cultivation and getting monthly salary but also get food for our cattle from the maize we are able to cultivate” Aba-Amin added.

The other native of Kessem who is enabled to practice agriculture through the access of irrigable water is Ahadi. She has three children and only her husband and the youngest two are now living with her at her farm land she has cultivated. Ahadi said “I built a house here at my farm land so as to protect my crop from being eaten up by wild animals; it is me who tilled the land and saw the seed; thanks to the sugar project, I am settled here and able to send my kids to school constructed by the project”. According to Ahadi, her two elder children still live moving from place to place following their cattle while her family is basically joining the journey to become a semi-pastoralist.

SAM 3272Any one might be taken aback if told about the practice of fishery at Afar. But, thanks to Tendaho Dam that the unthinkable is begun by the natives. Ali Salah is head of the Tendaho Fishery Association that has forty three members. According to Ali first some members of the association were taken to Bahar Dar (Amhara Region) for training. He then, recalling their first exposure to the nasty smell of the fish and their reaction, burst into laughter and went on saying “During training we used to cover our noses by our hands for the smell of the fish which was unbearable to us; then going through the training program and acquiring the necessary skill we came back and started the fishery using the two motor boats and other accessories the regional government granted us“. Ali at last added “This new practice and our new way of feeding were made possible only because of the sugar project” and extended his association’s gratitude to Sugar Corporation.

The Federal Government built schools, health stations, water wells, district offices, police stations, roads, residential houses, mosque, etc earmarking around 1.3 billion birr while the corporation has made ready irrigable land so as to introduce natives with agricultural practice.

Therefore, one can easily see  that the Federal as well as the Regional governments are working hand-in-glove with other stakeholders to make the natives of Afar Region the first and foremost beneficiaries of the sugar development projects carried out in the region. Furthermore, Sugar Corporation is exerting its maximum effort to staff some sixty percent of the total number of employees of these factories with locals and efforts are still under way while more than 4800 youth are already trained in various professions like machine operating, foreman, etc. and got job opportunity at the project.