BY SEMIR SEID | SHABAIT
Eritrea, is an agriculture based country that supplies its people with a variety of production. The Eritrean Crops and Livestock Corporation (ECLC) manages national tasks particularly in producing cereals, milk and meat for consumption.
The corporation is working to meet the needs of the society by increasing production to stabilize the market.
A couple of weeks ago the corporation held discussion that focused on the content and productivity of cereals, milk, animal husbandry and the production and exportation of meat.
According to ECLC, the number of livestock registered to date has reached 1,849,470. The production of milk, enhancement of animal husbandry as well as the production of cereals across the country are separately and effectively handled by the corporation in terms of their standard and supply.
Milk production is solely dependent on the number of cows producing milk. The corporation periodically engage in the maintenance of infrastructure and the production of animal feed to reach the expected target. To increase the yield of milk, the corporation constructed ranches with high capacity to hold thousands of cattle in Halhale, Adi Omer, Kerkebet and some others. It also introduced 3,300 new species of cows and distributed 2,000 to farmers across all the regions.
To increase efficiency, it distributed 150 small milking machines and 4,000 milk containers to farmers. Nationwide, the existing dairy animals held in agricultural centers reach 13,556. As research done by the corporation shows, Eritrea has drought resistant livestock and modern way milked cows.
Milk production supplied by farmers of all these animals reaches 25,846,069 liters a day. In order to have this amount of milk, the corporation makes sure a calculated concentrated feed is prepared to farmers. An amount of 98,464 kg (2kg per cow) is distributed among all the regions.
To boost milk production and yield of the animals from time to time, two kinds of animal feed are prepared in the centers. The most important and highly consumed is grass and hay while a byproduct of cereals (Fruska, Durqa, Asera) is taken as secondary feed. Animals can yield full production if supplied both. The corporation looks for forage (grass) based production of milk and meat. This process is up to 90% dependent on grass and only 10% on chemically processed feed.
Additionally, 200 located in various towns of the regions have had access to $10,000 credit for their agricultural supplies. In an effort to supply people with quality milk, ECLC renovated four milk collection centers, built three more and renovated existing three milk factories in the country.
The aim of the corporation and what it always struggles for is to ensure the availability of “fair priced” products. Farmers are organized into associations and properly distribute the milk they produce to the markets and customers.
To address challenges such as insufficient animal feed, medicine and fertilization processing and inspection centers, ECLC is working hard.
Agricultural experts claim that the climate of Eritrea is suitable for almost all kinds of cereal production. The available land for cultivation is categorized under the supervision of the ECLC and the regions.
ECLC cultivates 1,320 hectare of land by irrigation and 5,513 hectares using summer rain. Regions cultivate 27,509 hectare of land by irrigation and around 449,370 hectares using summer rainfall.
Statistics show that in a hectare, 3 – 14 quintals of cereals or vegetables amounting 60-200 quintals or 41- 300 quintals of fruits have been harvested from all the agricultural fields in various parts of the country.
In 2017 alone, 18,534 and 563,875 hectare of land have been provided by the corporation and regions respectively to grow cereals, legumes, oil seeds, vegetables, fruits and animal feed. To enrich production ECLC looks to advance and modernize irrigation, ensure strategic cereals, introduce quality seeds, improve agro-mechanization, introduce eloquent administration of modern agriculture, supply effective production enhancing (fertilizers, medicine, quality seed) and augment irrigation cultivated lands.
Meat production is also given much attention by the corporation as endeavors to improve livestock species and introduce new breeds of cattle. The corporation distributes hybrid livestock to farmers, enriched ranches in Kerkebet, Gerset, Fanko, Bademit, Degoli and Gahtelay besides planting and chemically processing animal feed in those places.
Moreover, ECLC strives to create venues for farmers to be able to sell their produce directly to consumers. It looks for centers of export and ways of shortening the supply chain in livestock market.
Overall, the project held by ECLC is practically huge and promising. Without hesitation the agricultural endeavors are likely to stabilize local markets and eventually satisfy regional markets.