Blackout rocks operation of 30 farms

One of the major hard currency earning sectors, the horticulture sector, gets a setback after occurrence of a power outage in the horticultural hub that stretches from Bishoftu to Qoqa.
Sources within the sector informed Capital that the main line that feeds power to the horticulture industries in the area was interrupted as from end of last week, “This has presented a myriad of challenges to our farms.”
The Ethiopian Horticulture Producer and Exporters Association (EHPEA) also confirmed the problem which its members are facing in the area.
Yemisrach Berhanu, Promotion and Information Service Head at EHPEA, said that the power interruption occurred for about six days until Thursday June 30.
“Because of the blackout, 30 farms have been affected. On the other end, the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU), which is responsible for distributing power, has informed us that the power outage transpired because of a particular theft that happened on a transmission line, but we were unable to know when it would be resolved,” she told Capital.
According to Yemisrach, operations like managing the green house activity, irrigation or feeding plants and operating the cooling houses have been affected at the farms.
She said that farms attempted to manage the problem by sourcing power from generators; however the shortage of diesel has added salt to injury, in addition to the continuous blackout.
The horticulture investment that manages over 200, 000 laborers, mostly women, with very limited plots of land is highly concentrated on the Qoqa area and on the highway to Batu town, south of Qoqa, which is 91 km south east of Addis Ababa. The export of products from the area also dominates the sector earnings.
The information that Capital secured from the electric provider indicated that the power line that came from Qoqa Station, one of the oldest energy dam, was damaged because of theft.
However, the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), which is responsible for administering generation, high tension lines including national grids and bulk power sales, said that the transmission line around Mojo area had been damaged two weeks ago.
“Nevertheless, we have managed the problem within two days and now the line is operating properly,” Moges Mekonnen, Public relation head of EEP, told Capital.
He said that the problem that rose from horticulture farms is not related with EEP.
“Concerning the power supply, the problem which transpired a fort night ago was solved immediately. I have also learnt that the power supply has been interrupted for the farms but since they are not our clients, and adding to the fact that after the two day blackout with the power being put back on, I do not see the areas where we could come in to assist,” he elaborated.
However information from EEU, which has direct relations with farms, disclosed the power cut is related with a transmission line cut that is managed by EEP.
“Because of the situation, now the plantation and other activities at the farms are affected,” she added by requesting swift solution from the relevant government offices.
The horticulture industry has contributed over half a billion dollars in the first ten months of the 2021/22 budget year, making the sector the third major hard currency source after coffee and gold.
The hard currency generation from the sector is growing every year despite different challenges including the recent effect related with COVID 19.

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