Ethiopia is home to more than 70% of Africa’s mountains- but, it’s also home to a decent-sized market for peas.
Ethiopia is located in East Africa right at the tip of its Horn and is home to about 100 million people. From a trade standpoint, Ethiopia is not a major player on the world pulse market but pulses do play an important role in the country’s food security and economy.
According to the USDA attache in Ethiopia, pulses are the third largest exported agricultural commodity after coffee and oilseeds.  We have to point though that pulses are imported there for humanitarian food relief.
On the production front, Ethiopia produces a sizable quantity of pulses, as shown on the chart below. Over the past four marketing years (from 2013/14 to 2016/17), Ethiopia produced on average 2.7 million tonnes of pulses!
When it comes to peas, production has averaged about 350,000 tonnes or roughly 13% of total pulse crop production.
On the demand front, about three-quarters of production goes to the local feed or human food market. For the latter, the consumption of pulses increases notably during the 250+ fasting days where literally millions of Ethiopian Orthodox church members eat only plant-based foods.
For imports, the country brings in an average of 55,000 tonnes of pulses per year. We have to point that the bulk of these imports are coming from the US.
On the exports front, Ethiopia exported on average 320,000 metric tonnes of pulses and it seems like they’re starting to trend higher (as shown on the chart).
Pulse varieties such as dried kidney beans were the top-exported pulse varieties, accounting on average for about 186,000 tonnes or 55% of the total export volumes over the past four years.
Pakistan is a top export destination for Ethiopian pulses. Countries such as Kenya, Vietnam, Indonesia, UAE, Vietnam, and Belgium are also buying pulses produced by the East African nation.
Clearly, Ethiopia is not a competitor for Canada nor the US on the peas markets. In contrast, the country is one of the largest recipients of pulse crops, namely peas and lentils for humanitarian assistance purposes. According to the USDA attache, Ethiopia imported roughly 65,000 metric tons, most of which were peas imported from the US.
Considering that the population of Ethiopia has been growing by an average of about 2.7% every year for the past two decades, the number of mouths that need to be fed won’t be declining. Combined with more political stability (which usually leads to economic growth), the buying power of consumers in this country could be boosted. Such an outcome, in turn, could trigger an increase of pulses consumption per capita as this country’s consumers can afford to buy more food.
While they’re not a major importer of pulses, they certainly do a fairly decent job exporting pulses to the rest of the world.