The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) reviewed its activities of 2019 at a meeting held for that purpose from 16 to 17 January within the premises of its headquarters in Asmara.
All branches of the MoA in the six regions of the country presented their annual report. The reports by the regional offices include soil and water conservation activities, cultivation of crops and oil seeds, construction of terraces, establishment of check dams and water dams of varied sizes, veterinary services, forestation activities, control of pesticides and migratory locusts, poultry, dairy farm and beekeeping, as well as fruit and vegetable farm activities.
Since a large portion of the Eritrean society depends on agriculture, utmost priority has been given to soil and water conservation, and water dams have been built throughout the country in a bid to augment agricultural produce.
As part of the efforts being made for soil and water conservation, the Southern Red Sea region has constructed micro dams in Alale and Debai-Sima as well as check dams and terraces in all sub-zones of the region. Livestock vaccination in the region has increased 14% compared to that of the 2018.
Construction of water reservoirs in Ghindae, Gelalo and Mai-Habar in the Northern Red Sea region (NRSR), the distribution of 140 smokeless ovens, and an overall increase of 23% agricultural produce are among the major achievements. Control of African and desert locust infestation in Qarora, Foro, Shieb, Massawa and other areas of the region were also cited as remarkable achievements of the region. Honey production has shown an increase of 15% compared to that of 2018, according to a report from the NRSR.
The Central region has also made efforts in soil and water conservation. Construction of terraces in Serjeka sub-zone and the construction of micro dams in Tselot, Adi-Gebru and Guritat as well as the construction of check dam in Himberti are some examples. As part of the efforts to augment agricultural produce, the region has extended efforts in the preparation of compost. A remarkable increase of agricultural produce has been registered in crops as well as fruit and vegetable farm. A good rainy season, coupled with an increase in the distribution of beehives, resulted in a 45% growth in honey production.
Construction of micro-dams in Barentu, Mensura, Golij and Logo-Anseba are among the recent developments in the Gash- Barka region. Dairy farm, poultry and beekeeping activities have shown commendable progress. Livestock have also increased owing to an abundant rainfall and green meadows during the rainy season. Veterinary services have been enhanced leading to a wider coverage of vaccination service in the region.
The Southern region implemented various agricultural projects in 2019. Soil and water conservation in Kudo-Felasi, construction of terraces in Areza sub-zone and the establishment of seven micro dams in different areas of the region are some of the developments. Distribution of smokeless ovens, expansion of fruit and vegetable farm is also another area where remarkable progress has been registered. Above all, the control of locust outbreak, particularly in Tserona, Adi-keyih, Senfafe and Segeneyti, was highly commendable.
The Anseba region tried to address the issue of soil and water conservation through popular campaign in the construction of dams and terraces. In 2019, abundant rainfall positively impacted agriculture and good harvest is expected. The region has distributed 676 smokeless ovens. The availability of green pasture boosted dairy farm.
During the discussion session, the participants of the meeting suggested the usage of cylindrical hives in the areas where there exist deficit of modern beehives so as to boost honey production as much as possible.
On 17 January, annual reports of the departments and divisions within MoA were presented. The Planning and Statistics Division reviewed and updated a five-year (2019-2023) strategic plan, which was compiled, finalized and approved.
The Regulatory Services Department (RSD), on its part, conducted inspection of milk and meat products in small scale milk products processing plants.
The inspection standards used include pasteurization, building and premises, equipment, sanitation, employees’ health certificates, product safety and labeling. The division reported that most of the processing plants have been producing safe products.
The National Animal and Plant Health Laboratory (NAPHL) regularly engages in activities to monitor animal and plant disease, quality and safety, vaccine production and quality control among others. The NAPHL is now making preparation to produce veterinary vaccines and is carrying out various activities. This is a remarkable progress discussed by the participants of the annual assessment meeting.
The development and distribution of seeds and livestock have been the major tasks of National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). The institute assists farmers through the provision of select seed based on studies carried out.
Human resource development is the focal point of all departments and divisions within the Ministry of Agriculture. Hence, the Ministry has been exerting efforts to empower its staff with various training programs.
The Agricultural Extension Department (AED) has been mainly working on developing, collecting, documenting and evaluating as well as conducting research. So far, the division has prepared and distributed GIS reporting template for all sub zones. GIS maps of water reservoirs and GIS maps of diversion structures have also been prepared.
The two-day meeting ended with a closing remark by Mr. Arefaine Berhe, Minister of Agriculture, who said water conservation is a priority of priorities.
The Minister emphasized the importance of training, increase in the extensive utilization of GIS as well as reinforcement of integrated farming activities, encompassing beekeeping, poultry, and dairy farm, as an essential package that needs to be enhanced at household level.
A strategic information division has been established, and this division, according to Minister Arefaine, encompasses GIS, Hydrometeorology, Food Market, ICT and innovation activities. The introduction of Hydro-phonics and Aqua-phonics is part and parcel of the innovation activities.
Mr. Arefaine further noted that commendable agricultural research activities have been conducted in regional branches. The provision of select seed has been vividly augmenting production. Drafting and rectifying policies and strategies and particularly the finalization of a five-year strategic plan has also been a major development.
Highlighting that the empowerment of regional laboratories is among the areas where remarkable progress has been registered, Mr. Arefaine said that the launching of vaccine production, though at its initial stage, is a commendable progress. “Combating migratory locusts and the experiences gained in this area is also exemplary both at national and regional levels,” Mr. Arefaine said.