Today Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed threatened to stop all wheat food aid saying it causes diseases and stopping the aid would solve “70%” of Ethiopia’s problems. Extensive studies have been carried out over the past few years analyzing the increasing wheat demand yielding solutions which the Ethiopian government has failed to put into place. The Ethiopian PM now seems to making a strawman argument against aid instead of admitting his lack of action on developing agriculture. He is also likely believing Ethiopia is facing imminent severe sanctions from Western democracies over the genocidal war with Tigray. The failing economy and falling birr will no doubt make it difficult to purchase the usual 4 million tons of wheat imports purchased yearly.
Ethiopia imports about 25% of its wheat needs every year estimated be over 6 million tons. Most of the purchased wheat imports, about 4 million tons, come from the Black Sea while the United States provides additional donations each year of 1.5 million tons. Since 2019 attempts have been made to increase wheat production in the Afar and Oromia regions which are most fit to raise the crop, however, this was not a main focus of the government.
A review of the problems of wheat production in Ethiopia shows that low tech farming methods and low payments to farmers make for failure to make production goals. Ethiopian market studies show that although teff to make the native bread enjera is preferred by the lower class, those that can afford to purchase wheat to make pasta and traditional breads, dabo and ambasha for example, are demanding more wheat every year. International authorities on wheat production had suggested aggressive breeding programs to make wheat more resistant to climate change and disease such as been done in Mexico but Abiy Ahmed government was slow to respond. Experts said that dealing with land erosion, seed breeding, and modernizing farming could make Ethiopia wheat self sufficient.