Ethiopia eyes untapped rubber production potential

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Addis Ababa, 22 April 2014 (WIC) – Ethiopia is currently carrying out a pilot project on more than 700 hectares of land in the southwestern Bench Maji region that officials hope will help turn the country into a major rubber producer.

"The pilot project launched in 1994/95 has so far consumed 100 million birr [roughly $5 million] from government coffers," Dawit Mesfin, general manager of the Chemical Industry Corporation's National Rubber Tree Development initiative, told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

"Three studies conducted prior to 1989 proved that there was potential in the southwestern part of the country to develop 84,000 hectares of land with rubber trees," he said.

So far, rubber trees have been planted on only 270 hectares of land. But the project has already begun yielding rubber, said to be up to international quality standards.

Ethiopia spends as much as $600 million every year on the import of rubber products, including car tires.
"Now that the pilot project has proved a success… we hope Ethiopia will tap into this vital resource so as to save considerable hard currency expenditures," he said. (Anadolu Agency)