By Samuel Taye
Political parties in contention for the upcoming elections held a televised debate here yesterday on the topic ‘The Agriculture and Rural Development Policy of Ethiopia’ .
The Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the Ethiopian Justice and Democratic Forces Front, the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum and the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement Party were the panelists who participated on the occasion.
EPRDF representative Tefera Deribew said that it has been witnessed that agriculture remains the backbone of Ethiopian economy. The economic boom over the last two decades and the 10.9 per cent growth are the results of the right agriculture and rural policy of the country.
“The livelihood of our farmers is highly improving as they employ various agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, best seeds, modern agricultural technologies supported by agriculture extension workers. Agricultural products and productivity are increasing, the income of farmers is rising and the country has registered considerable progress in this area. Hence, the policy has resulted in shining success,” said Tefera.
He argued that the policy has also been benefiting the pastoral community to improve their lives that rely on agriculture along with their livestock. In addition, they have been provided with extensive support for the productivity of their cattle.
“Today, prevention based health policy of the country is benefiting the agrarian and pastoral community. Basic and adult education has meant a lot to them in order to lead knowledge based life and they are experiencing it in practical terms. EPRDF’s agriculture and rural development policy is, above all, suitable to the well-being of the rural community apart from its huge contribution to the national economy,” added Tefera.
The Ethiopian Justice and Democratic Forces Front President Girmay Hadera said to talk about agriculture and rural development, the most important question to be addressed is the land policy of the country.
“Ethiopian farmers are not the owners of the land, these days. Leave alone using the land, they are being evicted in the name of investment and other reasons. If people have the right to sell, transfer or rent their own land, they will be stimulated to be more productive. But the existing policy does not accord them an equal and fair share of the land,” he said.
EPRDF is using the land policy for political purposes instead of benefiting the people, says president of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party Tigistu Awolu.
He argued that Ethiopian farmers are still engaged in backward agriculture and remain dependent on seasonal rain for the outcome of their fatigue.
The Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement Party representative Guesh Gebresilassie debated that the majority of the children of Ethiopian farmers are forced to move to urban areas due to scarcity of land for agricultural purposes.
Tilahun Endashaw, a representative of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (MEDREK) said that farmers are over burdened with government and companies’ expensive fertilizers debt.