FAO in Ethiopia

Ethiopia at a glance

Country Context

Ethiopia is one of the top performing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. This country has been able to register an average growth rate of 11 percent over the last seven years. Agriculture is the main stay of the economy; and exports are almost entirely relies on agricultural commodities. Coffee fetches the largest foreign exchange. Other agricultural products that earn foreign exchange include oil seeds, dried pulses, hide and skin as well as live animals. The young flower industry is also becoming another source of foreign revenue.

Ethiopia’s export of coffee represents about one percent of the global export while oil seeds and flowers each contribute 0.5% to the world market. Projections by the Ethiopian Government and the World Bank indicate continued and impressive growth rates over the period of FAO CPF (2016 – 2020).


However, the Government of Ethiopia recognizes that, despite impressive growth rates, measures of human development remain unacceptably low. Life expectancy at birth is 54.7, and annual per capita income is 170 USD. Infant and maternal mortality and child malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world; and adult literacy has remained at around 40 percent. Furthermore, only 58 percent of the population has access to potable water, and around 12 million people suffer from chronic or transitory or acute malnutrition.

There are marked differences between rural and urban areas with poverty being concentrated in rural areas where most households continue to live on less than 0.50 USD per day. Not surprisingly, many rural households find it impossible to survive without access to seasonal wage employment or aid from the Productive Safety Net and related social protection programs. Even though Ethiopia is one of the ten countries globally that has attained the largest absolute gains in its HDI over the last several years, it still ranks 173rd out of 186 countries (UNDP, NHDR 2014).

The agricultural sector

The agriculture sector plays a central role in the life and livelihood of most Ethiopians, where about 12 million smallholder farming households account for an estimated 95 percent of agricultural production and 85 percent of all employment. The Ethiopian Government has formulated a series of policies, strategies and programs to promote agricultural development to achieve food and nutrition security and build resilience. The government has developed second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) for the period 2016-2020. The overarching objective GTP II is the realization of Ethiopia’s vision of becoming a middle income country by 2025. In GTP II, agriculture sector is considered as one of the major sector driving growth. The plan under this sector focused on improving agricultural production and productivity and commercialization; reduce degradation of natural resources and improve its productivity; reduce vulnerability to disaster and build disaster mitigation capacity via ensuring food security

FAO priorities and initiatives

Ethiopia is one of the focus countries for the implementation of FAO regional initiative “Africa’s Renewed Partnership to End Hunger by 2025”. This partnership calls for accelerated action by member countries in the fight against hunger through the establishment of ambitious targets within the CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program) framework. In addition, the country is a focus country for the regional initiative on Building Resilience in Africa’s Dry lands. This initiative aims to strengthen institutional capacity for resilience; support early warning and information management systems; build community level resilience; and respond to emergencies and crises.