WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Ethiopian wheat production is expected to increase in 2019-20 but the nation will still fall short of meeting domestic needs, according to a March 29 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The nation’s wheat production is estimated at 4.6 million tonnes, up from 4.5 million tonnes in the previous year. The USDA attributed the increase to a new government initiative to make the country wheat self-sufficient that includes improved farm inputs and mechanization.

Domestic demand is estimated at 6.3 million tonnes. Rising incomes has increased the demand for wheat over the last decade, the USDA said.

“In order to close the gap between demand and supply of wheat, the government has been continuously importing wheat from the Black Sea region for the last several years,” the agency said.

Ethiopia is among the top three wheat producers in Africa, with wheat accounting for 20% of the nation’s total cereal production. More than 90% of Ethiopia’s wheat production is grown on small farms without irrigation, most of which are in the highlands, the USDA said.

The nation has more than 600 small and large flour mills, with a total production capacity of 4.2 million tonnes of wheat flour per year.

Corn production also is expected to increase in 2019-20 to 7.3 million tonnes, up from 7.25 million tonnes. The USDA said the increase is due to timely onset of the belg rai and better availability of improved seed supply.

Consumption is estimated at 7.3 million tonnes as increased production drove the market price to a reasonable level.

“Millers used corn both separately as well as in mixed flour with other more expensive cereals like teff and wheat,” the USDA said. “Poultry producers are also demanding more corn compared to other cereals.”