Eating and drinking in
Now the government has embarked on an ambitious project to grow more sugar to meet that demand - but also to boost electrical production and to create sugar-based ethanol that could help reduce car emissions and cut down on fossil fuel imports.
Gossaye Mengiste, an official at the
QUADRUPLE THE ENERGY
The government, facing a shortage of at least 200,000 tonnes of sugar a year, as well as persistent electricity cuts and rising pollution from its busy streets, sees growth in sugar as a cost-effective, environmental friendly answer.
Another economic goal is to become a middle-income country by 2025, which depends on the government keeping the economy growing at what it claims has been an annual growth rate of 10 percent a year over the past decade.
The government has focused on increasing use of ethanol, a byproduct of sugar, as a source of electricity because it's relatively cost effective and doesn't require a dedicated factory, so it can act as a supplementary energy source when needed.
THREAT TO PASTORALISTS?
Sugar plantations, however, need large tracts of lands. The question of land availability in lowland areas - most of which are occupied by pastoralists who occupy 60 percent of the country's land but account for only 11 percent of its population - may be a difficult one.
Zemdekun Tekle, corporate communications director at the
Planting sugar has created employment for local people and pushed pastoralists into settling, he said. He pointed to the
In the area, "graduates are learning practical skills with the sugar industry, becoming a skilled workforce and eventually becoming innovators themselves," Tekle said.
Another benefit from the sugar project is that it produces high-quality cattle feed as a byproduct, helping the country's large livestock sector which had previously been hampered by lack of good cattle feed, the
But critics aren't convinced of the merits of the scheme, saying efforts to expand sugar production are based on a condescending plan drawn up mainly by people living in highland areas but affecting the lowland population.
But emerging economies such as
One such person is
"I use sugar for the tea, coffee, milk, pastry and juices I serve to my customers, but I'm having difficulty finding sugar regularly from the government shop for a price of
The government plans to meet the sugar shortage by opening seven new sugar-processing plants by the end of next year, which will raise the country's production capacity from 300,000 tonnes to1.2 million tones a year. The plants will require 348,000 hectares of land, the government says.
The government estimates national sugar demand at about 650,000 tonnes a year, with current shortfalls made up by imports from
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