The Barley Value Chain in Ethiopia

(Flickr/Peter Haden)

(Flickr/Peter Haden)

There’s a growing demand for malt barley in Ethiopia. The question is who should meet this new demand?

There are two types of barley that farmers grow in Ethiopia: food barley and malt barley. The majority of barley that farmers grow is food barley and it is the main ingredient for several staple dishes such as injera, porridge, and bread. Food barely is a cheaper cereal than maize, wheat, and teff and is often used as a substitute for lower income families. Recently, there has been an increasing demand for farmers to grow malt barley, which presently constitutes 10 percent of the total barley production. With the introduction of several new malt factories in the country, domestic demand is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Currently, the Ethiopian government imports malt barley from trade partners such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. While importing barley may ensure a quality grain, the money that the government spends annually on these imports has increased to US$40 million, and if demand rises as projected, this figure could go as high as $420 million by 2025.

Farmers in Ethiopia have an opportunity to meet the growing demand for malt barley, but production is low, and the quality does not match that of imports. Farmers often don’t use best practices when growing barley. Over the past ten years, average barley yields have been 1.43 tons/hectare, which is low compared to its regional neighbors and about four times lower than the yields in developed nations such as France and Germany. The major question is can farmers in Ethiopia cost-effectively grow enough malt barley to meet the increase in demand?

To learn the answer to this question and more about the supply of barley in Ethiopia, read the report, “The Barley Value Chain in Ethiopia.”