Role of Diaspora in Economic Development in Eritrea

Foreign Financed Special Investments

Dr. Suresh Kumar

Eritrea Profile, vol.14, No.46, 15 August 2007



The Eritrean Diaspora community involves right from the beginning of the liberation struggle in different parts of world and united today for the development of independent Eritrea. Today, the Eritrean Diaspora leaves much scope for economic, social, cultural, family and political transnational networks. The driving force in the emergence of this Diaspora has been civilization identification and cultural linkage. The National Charter reminds Diaspora Community and says, “Recalling the substantive contribution of our mass organizations in the liberated and enemy occupied areas and the Diaspora to our liberation struggle. It further point out:

The Congress:

  1. 1.“Commends the role of the mass organizations (including Diaspora Community) in the victory of our liberation struggle and urges them to play an enhance role in the new phase,
  2. 2.“Affirms that priority must be accorded in economic opportunities to all those livelihoods had deteriorated on account of this participation” (NCE: 56).


The government policy of development leads to the majority people belonging to peasantry. The year 2006 development indicator highlights the development of agrarian sector, irrigation, water channels, dams construction, infrastructure, tele-communication and other. A ‘poverty focused’ economic development policy has best chance of success if it is agricultural-led, or if it is based on increasing agricultural productivity that result in food security and the reduction in absolute poverty’ that includes Land Reform Programme, Development of Agriculture Sector and Development of Agro-Industrial Sector.

“In matters of democracy and development, we must chart our own programs which work for our conditions. —Although we need outside expertise and experts, we have to rely on our own abilities and experts, and give priority to developing our own capabilities and expertise, self-reliance-economically, to rely on internal capabilities and develop internal capacities. Self-reliance does not mean to isolate oneself from the international community. It only means being as independent and self-confident player as possible in the international community” (A National Charter for Eritrea, For a Democratic, Just and Prosperous Future, Approved by the Third Congress of The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) Nacfa, February 1994: 16-17).

The changing nature of Diaspora elaborates their political and socio-economic contribution that is seriously considered by the Government of Eritrea. “Because Eritrea cannot reconstruct and develop its economy with national investment alone, it is also essential that the country establish economic policies that encourage and attract foreign investment (NCE: 28). Recently, the government announced new economic investment policy that is known as Foreign Financed Special Investments (FFSI) Proclamation.

The Diaspora tends to dominate because of the influence of its members in their adopted lands and their access to capital for investment. This community comprises mainly first-generation migrants, who live in the developed economies and still maintain close connections with their homeland. Though Eritrean looks up to overseas Eritrean for foreign investment, which cannot be the main reason for engaging the Diaspora community. The Diaspora gives Eritrean a wide reach in the international arena, through engagement with a wide range of countries.

Eritrea has a natural link with people of Eritrean origin and their strong desire to remain connected with their Eritrean heritage. Today, the agriculture sector is in the priority of the government to attain self-reliance and sustainable development, which will declare Food Security in Eritrea by implementing such programmes. Overseas Eritrean is mainly professionals and hence their investment has been in portfolio management. However, the presence of a large overseas Eritrean community will open up new markets for Eritrean goods. Eritrean communities in different African countries have provided the means to access the African market. The government persuades Diaspora communities to attract foreign investments. Investment is a decision dependent on the kind of facilities available, rather than on sentiment. The number of Eritrean Diaspora visit is increasing and appreciated the development of infrastructure, road, agriculture, industries and gold mining.

Diaspora and Foreign Financed Special Investments (FFSI) Proclamation

The Government of Eritrea announced new economic investment policy that is known as Proclamation No.159/2007 regarding Foreign Financed Special Investments (FFSI) Proclamation. It applies to all FFSI of more than Twenty Million US Dollars (20,000,000 USD) or its equivalent in other convertible currency. The features of this FFSI mentions under Article 4 as Objectives like:

“Without in any limiting the broad purposes of this Proclamation, this Proclamation has the following objectives:

  1. 1.to achieve self-sustaining economic growth and thereby to ensure steady improvement in the standard of living of the population of Eritrea.
  2. 2.to facilitate the rapid expansion of Eritrea’s potential and acceleration of social development;
  3. 3.to create and expand employment opportunities; and
  4. 4.to promote, encourage, safeguard and protect Foreign Financed Special Investments” (Gazette of Eritrean Laws, Vol. 16/2007 No.2 Asmara, 12th April 2007).

The 20 million USD is not an attractive opportunity for the individuals investing in Eritrea caring the investment return under consideration. But keeping the FFSI objective in mind, there is a possibility of partnership investment in their (Eritrean government) priority sectors. The Diaspora community may either form a joint- group of people belonging to diasporic community or invite their residence companies (from Europe, USA, Canada, Middle East, Pacific etc.) along with them or form a joint company. This is the way to introduce the avenues for investment jointly in the FFSI, which will give a chance to foreign companies to know more and more about investment in Eritrea collaboration with Eritrean Diaspora. Article 11 of FFSI says that temporary admission for inward processing Relief option and an investor for desiring to exercise the privilege under this Article shall first submit a written request and obtain Government approval.

The Eritrean government policies give priority to agriculture sector, a sign towards attaining food security. The year 2006 development indicator highlights the progress in irrigation, water channels, dam’s construction, water reservoir, infrastructure, tele-communication and other.

The mixture of FFSI objectives, government priority sector and investor/investors amount of USD 20 million, following suggestions may consider as investment in Agro-industry.

  1. Food Industry

This sector deals with different divisions as per the investor’s priorities and trusting the local interests in livestock production. This sector attracts the agro industries and other sector directly or indirectly relates to food industry. Poultry and Dairy Farm houses links with the food industry and cater the needs of the local people accordingly.

  1. A)A)Poultry Farm

This sector deals with the egg and Chicken meat production. Four Diaspora investors or collaboration with their residence company may divide the total amount as per their work and reward. This project proposal maintains the common amount to each investor such as:

  • ·Investment in Livestock, poultry houses, feed & other living conditions with Veterinary doctors (and invest 5 million USD).
  • ·Investment in Collection of Eggs and Chicken meat to its wholesale distribution under Article 5 (2) of FFSI may waive by the government. It needs hatchery and refrigeration facilities for meat as (and invests 5 million USD).
  • ·Investment in Opening Egg, chicken meat temperature controlled shops for retail markets (and invest 5 million USD).
  • ·Investment in transportation (through Trucks, mini trucks and other), which will carry eggs and chicken meat from Poultry farms to wholesale distributors and supply further to retail markets under Article 5 (2) of FFSI may waive by the government (and invest 5 million USD).
  • ·Training to Eritrean youth in the different fields of poultry, dairy, horticulture, floriculture and other agro-food industries that will help them to work as skilled worker (and invest 1million USD).

Following example through diagram explains this process to set up a series of Poultry farms (Figure-1).

This model will work for the other sector such as dairy farms and other agro industries. The Eritrea Diaspora food company is group partnership having four Diaspora investors or joint company with specified work. The major investments divide into different sectors and the number is given to them from 1 to 4 under Figure-1.

  1. Dairy Industry

It consists of livestock such as sheep, goat and cow. The Dairy industry produces milk & other related items and meat. Along with it, the other benefits of Diary Industry relates to Cow Dung for Bio-gas plant and its distribution in the area and Dung as manure for agriculture fields. The Figure-1 may use for Dairy industry as well to understand the process of investment, setting up the market and relations with the consumers.


  • ·Investment in Livestock, farmhouses, feed & other living conditions with Veterinary doctors (5 million USD).
  • ·Investment in Collection of milk, storage and milk processing unit. It will prepare milk packets, cream, curd, Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other products (5 million USD).
  • ·Beef meat to its wholesale distribution. It needs hatchery and refrigeration facilities for meat (5 million USD).
  • ·Investment in Opening milk distribution outlets and selling milk cream, curd, Cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other products. Beef meat temperature controlled shops for retail markets (5 million USD)
  • ·Investment in transportation (through Trucks, mini trucks and other), which will carry milk containers, and other items. The Beef meat from dairy farms to wholesale distributors and supply further to retail markets (5 million USD).





Eritrea Diaspora Food Company

Four Investors


Investor No. 1


Poultry Farm House 1-15 number

Investor No. 2

Collection of Eggs and Processing


Hatchery of Chicken meat and its processing



Investor No. 3

Transportation and Work shop


Investor No. 4

Wholesale Counters



↓ ↓ ↓ ↓


1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S 1S

Shops or Outlets of Eritrea Diaspora Food Company in different Zoba areas

↓ ↓ ↓ ↓

Customers Customers Customers

  1. Pig Farm House

This farmhouse is used for the pork meat production and it is a viable source of food. The indigenous production will encourage the investors as per the market demands on the one hand and customer will get benefit in procuring the meat in fewer prices on the other hand. Figure-1 applies to this sector as well.


  1. Other Agro-Food Industries

This industry will work together and are interrelated to each other. Four Diaspora investors along with some company may invest in this sector. There are possibilities of group partnership in the inter-related agro-food industries such as:


  1. 1.Honey Bee Production
  2. 2.Horticulture Production
  3. 3.Floriculture Production
  4. 4.Mushroom Production
  5. 5.Belles Production at industrial scale (Fruit of Cactus plant)

The Horticulture and Floriculture industries will support the Honey Bee production for the nectar and work together in the market. This is a viable source of export to Europe and Middle East countries. The horticulture production directly relates to cash crops such as mushroom plantation, tomato, garlic, green chilly (for sauces industry), and potato (For chips, wafers, etc. industry) at industrial scale. It uses to develop agro-industrial sector and benefits to agrarian community directly.

The demands of flowers are increasingly rapidly in the cities during the marriage, festival, conference and other purposes. Eritrea climate suits for floriculture and it will generate a big market through export to neighboring countries, Europe and Middle East region.

The Cacti fruit known as Belles largely produce in Eritrea. There is a need to use scientific method to increase its production, which will strengthen export market. The Belles fruit uses for eating and preparing juice and rarely fund in the world. Eritrea is known for its production as the land and weather favors it.

  1. 2.Agriculture Sector and Agro Industry

The Gash Barka region predominantly agriculture one attract more development. The priority of the Diaspora community in this sector refers to:

  1. 1.Better seed
  2. 2.Advance land Cultivation technique through (Harrow, Thrasher, Seed-drill, Cutter, etc.)
  3. 3.Tractor for multipurpose
  4. 4.Agro-Engineering Techniques and implementation

There is a need to fetch this area with the help of Ministry of Agriculture, Eritrea and Research Centers.

The agriculture sector, food industry and agro-industry is another step to ensure steady improvement in the standard of living of the Eritrean people, offer employment opportunities to local people and accelerate their social development. The employees will get training and use the different method in their field. This industry will get opportunity to waive of sale and custom taxes [under Article 10(1) of FFSI] as it come under the essential items. Moreover, this sector needs a long term planning and the return will come accordingly. There is a good hope of return in this sector as it directly touches the needs of the people, making them health conscious and introduces the option of food varieties with in their habits of tastes.

It will attract the cooperative societies related to milk collection centers in the villages, which will help the villagers to earn more and generate growth of livestock. They will learn the alternative techniques of cooking via biogas, solar energy and other.

The Eritrean Free Zones (EFZ) Proclamation No. 115/2001 interpret the meaning of Free Zone under Article 2 that says, “means any part of the national territory of Eritrea, including any part of the territorial waters of the state and/or building thereon that is declared to be a free zone under Article 5 of this Proclamation”. Article 5 (1) EFZ says, “The Minister of Finance may, by a public notice in a national newspaper declare that, on or after a specified date, the land, territorial waters and/or building within the limits defined in the public notice, shall be a free zone for the proposes of this Proclamation”. It will not affect the investments made under FFSI. One may say that the most part of Eritrea will be covered under the scheme of FFSI.


Overall, through sheer perseverance, labor, and thrift, and most significantly by a calculated withdrawal into their culture, in which they found forces of sustenance, Diaspora Eritrean successfully labored to give their children and grandchildren better economic futures, and they in time made their presence in the trade and commerce of their new homelands. This was just as true about Eritrea Diaspora in Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Uganda. Article 3 (9) of FFSI mention Investors means any physical person or any juridical person registered outside Eritrea who or which, respectively, has invested foreign capital and goods and equipments in Eritrea. Along with it, Article 3 (7) of FFSI explains about, Foreign Capital means investment of foreign origin which shall include foreign convertible currency, negotiable instruments, plant machinery, equipment, buildings, spare parts, raw materials and other business assets brought into Eritrea and includes profit converted into capital.

To conclude, this is the step forwarding the idea of today investment and tomorrow prosperity on the one hand and strengthening the mutual relations between the Eritrea economic sector and Eritrean Diaspora friendly countries on the other hand. Eritrean Diaspora is facing bureaucratic hurdles. They spoke of the insecurity of their investments and assets in Eritrea. But this investment scheme of government gives economic incentives to this community may lead to security and confidence at home. It may strengthen the agro-industrial sector and investors export, catering the demands of common people and move for sustainable development.


Need of Scientific Agriculture Technology for Sustainable Development in Eritrea

Today’s Investment: Tomorrow’s Prosperity

Strategic Plan of Agriculture 2007-2009

Dr. Suresh Kumar

Eritrea Profile, vol.14, No.40, 25 July 2007


“Rural Development means Development that involves every aspect of government and social activities. Education must be directed towards meeting the basic needs of all”. – Julius K. Neyerere


The land in general and agriculture land particularly is under the control of national government. Recently, the Joint Meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers and Regional Administrators reiterated that Land Proclamation No.58/1994 stipulates, “Land belongs to the Government” which means that the land belongs to the people with the government bearing the responsibility of preserving it for future generations”(Eritrea Profile, Vol14, No. 37, 14 July 2007). “Some 50% of the population is Tigringna ethnic group, which has mainly inhabited the central highlands and are settled agriculturalists. Tigre, the second largest group (31%) inhabits the northern part of the country and is engaged in agro-pastoralism” (Rehabilitation of Degraded lands, 1998:2). At the time of independence, it was observed, “the population of Eritrea would reach 7 million by the year 2019. The implications on land and land resources, social services (health, education, employment, etc.) and infrastructure are serious. Moreover, estimates suggested that the population is young with high consumption needs and considerable dependency rate” (UNICEF, 1994). All the different communities are working together and sharing their workload together in all agriculture land. The agriculture method starts from leveling of land, ploughing of land, seed distribution on land through traditional bullock-plough system. Along with it, the irrigation method is depended upon natural rain. The final crop is taken through the community system using traditional tools and collected their final harvest.

Soil erosion is one of the serious problems in Eritrea. Drought, rainfall, low soil organic matter, nature of the soil and poor land management systems are the main nature of the soil and poor land management systems are the main contributors to the soil erosion in Eritrea. Historically, it was the result of Italian and British concessionaires charcoal production during colonialism, traditional house (h’dmo) construction, match production and affects of Ethiopia-Eritrea war. As a result, the agricultural land is vulnerable to severe soil erosion by water and wind. The topsoil is removed and subsoil provides poor conditions for seed germination. The scare vegetation cover is pro-grazed by animals; leaving little chance to reproduce vegetation resulted in loss of soil fertility. The soil is more exposed to scorching sun heat, destroying the soil structure. Thus, ground cover plays an important role in environmental restoration and helps in promoting crop production.

Agriculture is the economic mainstay of Eritrea coupled with the existing semi-arid climate, needs a careful analysis of problems and associated risks. The appropriate techniques and institutional arrangements related to the natural resource base conservation and technical knowledge for effective production need to be researched. This will help to adopt right-kind policies, strategic and its implementation with in existing environment. The National Agriculture Research System (NARS) started in post independent Eritrea. Later on, under the direction of Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the research and Extension was merged to form the Division of Agriculture Research and Extension in 1995. Recently, Ministries of Agriculture, Eritrea and India signed on joint agreement with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to work in Agriculture Research and Extension in Eritrea and strengthen scientific Agriculture technology in this regard (Foreign Affairs Report, September 2006). Along with it, Farm Systems Research (FSR) as distinct from Mainstream Agriculture Research (MAR) is demand driven because FSR will solve immediate short-term problems and MAR focuses on long-term professional research results. It is suggested that the basic research develops new technology based on knowledge generated from strategic researches and adaptive research effects changes in the technologies of the specific region and producer groups.

Table-1 presents the post independent Eritrea position of actual and potential land uses at national level. The large area of land depends on the rain but there is potential for irrigation to use agriculture land for production. In addition to it, the dry land agriculture system will reduce the area available


Table-1 land Categories in Eritrea

Land Type App. Area (Hectors) % of total









Cultivated land (rain fed) 417,000* 3.42
Irrigated land 22,000 0.18
Disturbed land 53,000 0.43
Plantations 10,000 0.08
Woodland & Scrub land 673,000 5.52
Browsing and Grazing 6,967,000 57.16
Barren Land 4,047,000 33.21
Total Rain fed land 1,050,000 8.61
Total irrigated land 600,000 4.92

Source: FAO, Agricultural Sector Review, 1994.

* 1993 cultivated area plus 12.5% for bare fallow.


now for livestock grazing. There is a need of scientific agriculture to further explore this potential area (Table-1), connects it with roads and railway network from village to market, will contribute its significant role in food production. Most of the expected expansion of rain fed agricultural land is located in southwest of the country particularly Gash-Barka region.

The need of scientific technology requires changing the old pattern of agriculture, which will promote the idea of self-reliant in this sector. But it should be clear here that use of scientific methodology does not mean to use of chemicals and other sources to increase the production sector. The scientific methodology here meant to develop the agriculture pattern by incorporating proper water management and its distribution through canal channels, use and distribution of proper power system for agriculture and industrial sector, pest resistant & high yield producing seeds and minimum time requirement for the final yield. This knowledge requires the understanding of scientific temper and development of agriculture education in Eritrea keeping the physical geography in mind.

Initiating the Scientific temper of agriculture in Eritrea, ‘this year the Ministry of Agriculture central region branch provided 12 tractors and with the current task eight were added. And 65 private tractors participated on the agricultural activities. Adding to this, the traditional method of ploughing was vital especially in the Serejela sub zone, where most of the farms are located among hills and mountains. The Ministry has been giving ploughing services to the farmers with a small amount of fee. The farmers were able to rent a tractor (160 Nfa for and hour) from the Ministry and plough their land’ (Eritrea Profile, 11 July 2007). The sprinkling and drip irrigation method particularly for the mountainous region is the viable alternative as it works successfully in Russia, China and India.

The Ministry of Agriculture central region branch yearly prepares special crops for cultivation. This year the Ministry has reserved 800 tons, which now is ready to be given to the farmers on a loan. In addition to this, with the last year’s good harvest the farmers also have reserved enough then the ministry has (Eritrea Profile, 11 July 2007). Along with it, the Central region built macro and micro dams of about Nfa 12,000,000 cost, which will serve villages of Adi Arada, Tselot, Adi Kontsi, Adi Keiyh, Zgib and Adi Yakob (Eritrea Profile, 11 July 2007).


Strategic Plan for Modern Eritrean Agriculture

This plan for the year 2007-2009 was discussed in the joint meeting of the Eritrean Cabinet of Ministers and Regional Administrators on 10th July 2007.This plan draws national plan for developing agricultural output aims at transforming the traditional agricultural system step by step into modern one, while the immediate aim is to enhance the production of strategic seeds, develop the production of quality produce for export purposes, create wide employment opportunities in the sector, and ensure expertise and work experience as well as effective administration in the agricultural sector. This plan point out that the production capacity of agricultural lands in all parts of the country should be directed by the national plan an d that ensuring joint administration of national resources is needed so as to reach the set targets. Moreover, this plan focuses on guaranteed produce both in quantity and quality with the help of constructing additional water storage infrastructure, upgrading irrigation farming facilities, finding ways to coordinate and boost produce of strategic seed and animal resources, upgrading the skills of farmers and experts in these areas and storage system is decisive in streamlining the production and selling of agricultural produce. It will bring together the potential and expected produce of the strategic food crops like wheat, cotton, sugar, sesame and grains along with necessary procedure and facilities (Eritrea Profile, 14 July 2007). This research paper discusses the scientific agriculture technology for sustainable development keeping this strategic plan in mind.

Physical Geography and Land Tenure System

According to FAO (1994:4) Eritrea is divided into six agro-ecological zones, namely the Central Highland Zones (Northern midlands, highlands and southern midlands), the coastal Plain Zone, Western Escarpment Zone and South Western Lowland Zone, North Western Lowland Zone and the Green Belt Zone”. Debubawi Anseba represents major central highland agro-ecological Zone of interrupted flat lands having 18* C temperature and mean annual rainfall is about 400 mm/year and good for horticultural crops. Egelahatzin in Southern Zone represents midland of mixture lands (Steep, sloppy and flat) having average temperature of 27*C temperature and average annual rainfall is about 250-300 mm/year and good for variety of crops. Gahtelay in Red Sea Zone represents low land of coastal plains having average temperature of 35*C temperature and average rainfall is 200 mm per year from November to March (Rehabilitation of Degraded lands, 1998:5). The highest and the most reliable rainfall regime make it one of the most favourable areas for perennial crops in the country. The major crops in three divisions are Barley, Wheat, Maize, Sorghum, Taff, Pearl Millet and Finger Millet, Linseed, Chick Peas, Pepper, Tomato, Groundnuts, Watermelon, Potato, Pears, Beans, etc.

“Climatic data from some of the weather recording station in Eritrea indicate that inadequate rainfall and high evapo-transpiration remains the major obstacles for crop production. Most of the country is drought prone, suffering form inadequacy and high variability of rains. During the last four decades, Eritrea faced serious shortage of rains. During the last four decades, Eritrea faced serious shortage of rains. In general, even if the rains do come, they are erratic and short-lived. Between the extremes of hot arid and cool semi-arid, a hot semi-arid climate prevails where the rainfall ranges from 400-700mm. This climatic zone offers the best potential for the expansion of rain fed crop production. This area includes, in general, the Southern Plains and the plains bordering the Gash and Setit rivers (Rehabilitation of Degraded lands, 1998:6). There is almost no information available on the morphological study of the Eritrean soils except some study of the FAO classification system like

  1. 1.Sandy texture of Highlands and Midlands Soil,
  2. 2.Stony Soils of Lowlands with Hills and Mountains
  3. 3.Arid or Desert Soils of Coastal Plains
  4. 4.Deeper Soils of Western Plain.

There are major three types of land holding system in Eritrea that is known as Diesa (Village Ownership), Risti (Individual Household or enda ownership) and Demaniale (State Ownership).

  1. 1.Diesa land Tenure System

It relates to village-wide communal ownership of land that comes under common/collective property of the village people. The system of gibri means a full share of crop field, or firki gibri means half a share of crop field, and a household of that village is entitled to anyone of the title.

  1. 2.Risti land Tenure System

It introduces the concept of private property. The owner of land is individual, church or enda. But an individual holder cannot gift or sell any portion of land without consent of enda that shows an individual does not authorize absolute rights on land. An individual can cultivate or lease the land on sharecropping basis.

  1. 3.Demaniale land Tenure System

It refers to state-owned land and is found in most parts of Eritrea particularly in the lowlands. This land is easily accessible to village peasants for farming as well as grazing purpose.

Today, it is important to note that unlike the demaniale land system, other two systems are regulated. The community agriculture and need of scientific methodology will develop and strengthen the household in diesa system and promotes individuals in risti system.

Scientific Agriculture and Eritrea

Eritrea adopts traditional farming in harmony with Nature that can provide their people the minimum requirement of food. Eritrea indeed is having a fertile soil, natural water rain and sunshine, green belts in terms of forests, a wealth of bio-diversity, … And cultured, peace-loving people with a vast store of traditional farming knowledge and wisdom.

The nature of land in Eritrea shows its limitations vis-a-vis dry land are concerned. Thompson observed that millions of people in dry lands put pressure on land through over cultivation and over grazing (Thompson, 1992). The similar result is visible in case of land in Eritrea. The post independent Eritrea faced frequent droughts, declaring its land fertility and found more soil erosion. The land has declined its productivity in terms of crop yield per unit area. Consequently, it affects the livestock’s and migration of agriculture community from rural to urban areas.

Bojo and Cassells (1995) discussed land degradation as “a process that lowers the productivity of the land, assuming other factors such as technology, management and weather are held constant”. But one may control this process of land degradation as it is seen in Libya, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and other countries. The scientific agricultural methods and its implementation can check the process of land degradation in Eritrea. The government policies favour rehabilitation (Eritrea, Macro, 1994) and the Cabinet meeting in Massawa from September 5-7, 2006 concluded its deliberations after mapping out a quarterly work plan and action programs for 2007 in agriculture and construction of various infrastructures. Along with it, “it discussed the ongoing efforts on a priority basis towards achieving food security through coordinating existing resources on short and long-term basis. It focused on major projects for 2006 aimed at boosting agricultural production as regards to infrastructure in this sector, as well as quality and quantity of seeds that would make significant contribution to export and domestic consumption, agriculture infrastructure, soil and water conservation, building agro-industrial Centre and ensuring conservation of natural resources (Eritrea Profile, Vol.13, No.52, 6th September 2006). Moreover, it underlined the need to step up vigorous efforts to implement agricultural development programs in all the administrative regions on the basis of coordinated approach. The agricultural and building programs during the period 2003-2007 analyses with the help of its implementation.

Today, “the Southern region utilizes 1070,000 cubic meters water through the construction of dams and Gash Barka utilizes 223,000 cubic meter water dams and water reservoirs. Similarly, Eight water diversion schemes have been constructed which are expected to facilitate irrigation farming on 11,000 hectares, a new water reservoir with a capacity of holding 70,000 cubic meters under construction in Adebarussom, Adi-Quala sub-zone, the construction of a water supply project in Shilalo includes a water tanker with a capacity of holding 50,000 liters of water and the Sheshebit project includes a water tanker with a capacity of 50,000 liters of water that solved the problems of water’ (Eritrea Profile, Vol.14, No.9, 7 April 2007). There are more than 10 micro dams and 08 water reservoirs are constructed or under construction and this scheme continues for the year 2007. ‘This year a promising rainfall started as expected time and is continuing generously covering wide area at a time. In the central region 28,000 hectares can be cultivated. This year the Ministry of Agriculture has made 24,000 hectares ready for cultivation’ (Eritrea Profile, Vol.14, No.36, 11 July 2007).

Eritrea is developing Agriculture College, Hamelmalo in Karen and planning to develop an agricultural university to utilize huge land-holdings of thousands of acres. The agriculture college student spends all the six-seven years they spend for B.Sc. and M. Sc. in agriculture and learning the scientific way of agriculture processes and production. They are learning different techniques regarding infrastructure, equipment, scientific upgraded seeds, use of minerals and pesticides to produce more for the Eritreans needs.



Eritrea Profile, vol.14, No.41, 28 July 2007

Use of Scientific Methodology in Agriculture

  1. 1.Horticulture

The Agriculture diversification with use of scientific methodology in this sector will promote income generation activities. Horticulture is one such activity that is producing a limited range of crops at present. It will promote the use of land as per the need and diversification will maintain fertility of soil and help in lower local prices of different products. The Government Development Plan of 2003-2007 enshrines infrastructure building as one of the top priority that will help the farmers (Produces) and society (Users) in economic terms in long term. Scientific methodology will promote mushroom cultivation, having controlled temperature in glass houses and others along with variety of vegetable production, which will generate employment at rural level, challenge poverty, ill-health and promote sustainable development. The Strategic Plan for Modern Eritrean Agriculture for the year 2007-2009 needs to taken care of this aspect to cater the demand and supply of rural and urban areas on the one hand and provide the vegetables and other essential food items in the cheaper rates.

  1. 2.Floriculture

The use of urbanization develops demand of flowers on the different occasion like marriage, felicitation, cultural functions, number of festivals, etc. The production of flowers and its market in the cities are co-terminus. This production will cater the domestic market as well as foreign market. Here, the scientific methodology plays an important role particularly in Eritrea because of weather diversification.

  1. 3.Dairy, Poultry and Livestock Production

The fodder is used in diary and poultry farms for the growth of live stock production. That’s why, agriculture and livestock are integrated part of each other. The cow and buffalo milk, poultry for eggs and meat production caters the need of urban areas, strengthening economic position of rural sector and use the agriculture waste land for fodder production. The local connectivity will help diary and poultry farms to supply milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, cream and other items to Asmara, Massawa, Keren and other cities that help in supplying food production and ensure economic returns.

  1. 4.Fisheries, Prawn, Shrimp and Oyster Cultivation

The uncultivable land or barren land or stony layer land may be used for alternative production despite the availability of sufficient water. Fisheries, Prawn, Shrimp and Oyster cultivation are the best substitute for alternative production on land, which will fulfill the needs of food production, employment opportunities and economic generation. Fish cultivation and other cultivation can be produced in water ponds, canals and rivers through fish seeds. The proper scientific techniques and its implementation give a good support to generate surplus food production.

  1. 5.Scientific Aforestation, Production of Bio-Diesel and Promotion of Green Environment

The uncultivable land can be used to produce plants and turn the barren land to forest area is the vibrant example of our neighboring country Libya. This scheme will start once the collection of weather information, availability of water and nature of soil is composed together. It will generate establishment of woodlots, direct involvement of village participation to change barren land to forest. This scheme will generate surplus economy with the introduction of Jatropha Curcas plantation. This plant is alternative to fossil oil and a rich source to produce bio-diesel. Eritrea barren land is good source for this plantation in different weather conditions and this plant is drought resistant. Jatropha plantation needs two years for its growth and get ready for production of seeds for bio-diesel that continues up to 40 years. This plant produces seeds through out the year, which help in continue production of bio-diesel.

Moreover, the use of barren land with Jatropha plantation will fulfill the slogan of Grow Plants, Save Environment. This plant production is already started in Latin America, Asia, Africa and European countries. This will strengthen Eritrea’s environment and curtail the process of land degradation, erosion of soil and invite more rain in the changing environment.

  1. 6.Agro-Processing with Diversification

The cash crops like sunflower and sesame (for oil), Potato, Tomato (for chips and other products, tomato sauce and juice), Garlic (for sauce), Cotton, Basmati Rice, Sugarcane, Grams, Black Gram, Cashew nuts, Jute, Ragi and other are part of agro-processing industries that could generate more income and employment opportunities. Agro-processing units can target both the local market as well as export market. The coordinal relations between industries and agriculture producers through government scheme will give there due share of profit through national market and export.

The Agriculture Ministry and Implementation of Scientific Methodology

All land belongs to government and the farmers possess cultivation rights (Usufructus). The village council is playing its role in allotment of land for cultivation on a seven-year basis. The structure of landlordism and feudal society does not exist in Eritrea. But land owning for agriculture purpose is a status symbol in the society. The idea of land holding stratification is redundant as the government is the real owner. There is a rapid population growth in Eritrea. The UNDP estimates 2600 calories of food everyday for a growing human being to keep healthy. Eritrea supplies 1900 calories of food per day. The food requirements today at the rate of 370lb or 170 kilograms per capita per year to 4 million (approximate) populations is

Food Requirements 4000000×170 = 680000 tons


The agriculture production as per Ministry of Agriculture data is 360,000 tons and one calculates the deficit of 320,000 tons. The agro-industries are the source to reduce the population pressure on land on the one hand and provide employment to rural people as alternate source of living on the other hand. Agro-industry development is a part of Government 2003-2007 plan to strengthen sustainable economic development in the country.

Ministry of Agriculture has planned to develop the scientific agriculture system and establish Extension Organization (Figure-1). This organization is directly connected to rural peasantry in a systematic way because the senior Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) handles the Zoba and taking initiatives in strengthening the pattern of different crop production and the methods to protect the crops from insects, and weeds. Along with it, they suggest farmers as per the weather, land position, social need and market value implementing Horticulture, Marketing & Credit, Home Economics, animal production and animal health. Junior SMS are straightforwardly discussing these issues of development with farmers of different zobas as per their needs and implementing it. Both Director and Director General are looking after the Research and Extension Division. Director is taking care of Crop Production, Animal Production and Animal Health Protection and schemes of Marketing Credit.


Extension Organization in the Ministry of Agriculture, Eritrea


Minister of Agriculture