ETHIOPIA – Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has presided over the inauguration of Jigjiga Flour and Bread Factory in Somali Region.

The PM was accompanied by First Lady Zinash Tayachew during Somali Regional State visit where they oversaw different development projects on February 13.

According to Abiy, the project is one of the many pro-poor initiatives led by the Office of the First Lady and marks the eighth out of twelve factories being built across the country.

This is “a step forward in our journey towards sustainable development and support for our communities,” he noted.

In Ethiopia, wheat is the second cereal cultivated after corn. While production in the country is one of the highest on the continent, the processing segment is still struggling to meet domestic demand.

By 2020, the Ethiopian Milling Association (EMA) reported that its affiliate members were operating at only 20% to 30% of their installed capacities because of wheat shortages, with the average national milling capacity estimated at 50%.

The shortages, according to EMA are partly attributed to rising demand fueled by an increase in population (which stands at 107 million people), urbanization, and increasing incomes.

In addition, EMA blamed the subsidized wheat imports that made the locally produced crop slightly expensive and weakened the country’s milling industry.

However, the country has been making strides toward rebuilding its once booming economy with appeals to international donors and investors.

Last year, Biftu Baha Oromia Share Company, a specialty in marketing agricultural products started construction of a grain processing plant in the Dire Dawa Industrial Park in the east of the country.

At a total cost of 250 million birr (US$4.5 million), the new factory would house production lines for the manufacture of wheat flour and pasta and create direct jobs for 100 people.

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