28 November 2019, Addis Ababa – President Sahle-Work Zewde met in her office at the Presidential Palace with farmers that were attending the official launch of the Agricultural Commercialization Clusters (ACC) at the United Nations Conference Center. The 24 farmers that were invited to the palace were representing their respective agricultural commercialization clusters in Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray regions.
“A discussion about agriculture and farming is not complete without farmers,” President Sahle-Work Said. “I called you here today to learn more about your experience in the ACC and to subsequently look for solutions in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and agencies like the ATA.”
The farmers thanked H.E. the President and ATA for the privilege of attending the launch and sitting in a meeting with the President of their country. Most said this is something they never imagined would happen to them personally. “I have never heard of such a privilege as this for a farmer. Not in my time, not in my father’s time or grandfather’s time. You have invited us to the United Nations, and now the Presidential Palace! I thank you in the name of the farmers here. Also, I hope this goodwill and gesture will be matched by action on the ground,” a farmer from Shebelberenta Woreda, West Gojjam, said.
They also shared their experience in the ACC, how it has helped them to exponentially increase their yield, and how the collective farming is also protecting the land through planned and rotational planting. All the farmers testified that their production has at least doubled since their involvement in the ACC and thanked the ATA for its role in this.
They raised the lack of access to mechanization services and delayed availability of agricultural inputs and agrochemicals as their biggest challenge. They also called for more research into crop diseases.
Ato Khalid Bomba, CEO of the ATA and H.E. Ato Sani Redi, State Minister of Agriculture assured the farmers that both the ATA and the Ministry are working with 10 mechanization cooperatives each to pilot access to mechanization through farmer clusters and cooperatives.
At the conclusion of the meeting, H.E. the President called on the farmers to continue working through these clusters, and to engage in climate-resilient agricultural practices as the climate situation is bound to get tougher in the years to come.