Private concessionaires who operated farms for growing commercial crops such as cotton, sugarcane and horticultural crops started the first formal large scale irrigation schemes in the 1950s in the upper and lower Awash Valley . In the '60s irrigated agriculture was expanded in all parts of the Awash Valley and in the Lower Rift Valley. The Awash valley saw the biggest expansion in view of the water regulation afforded by the construction of the Koka dam and reservoir that regulated flows with benefits of flood control, Hydropower and assured irrigation water supply.
During the Derge era, all private farms were nationalized, thereby ending the highly motivated but embryonic private sector. The government pursued the development of medium and large-scale irrigation schemes as State Farms, initiating a number of schemes dispersed in many parts of the country that ranged from Amibara Irrigation Project in the Middle Awash to Alwero Irrigation Project in Gambella and Gode-West Irrigation near Gode town. Following the downfall of the Dergue, the current government until recently withdrew from expanding State Farms and further construction of medium and large-scale irrigation.
While the development of small-scale irrigation schemes has continued under Regional Water, Mines and Energy Bureaus, the development of medium and large-scale irrigation has virtually ceased since the mid 90s until recently. This is due to the withdrawal of the Federal Government from running state development enterprises such as irrigated state farms, following the adoption of market based economic policy.
The private sector has also been reluctant to fill the gap created by this withdrawal. Private consultancy firms and construction contractors, on the other hand, have quickly emerged with the coming in to force of a market based economic policy. Private irrigation farmers have also commenced operation in the Awash, Meki-zway, and Woito valleys, albeit on a small and medium scale.
The Country has a total area of about 1.13 million km2, with estimated arable land resources of potential of 55 million hectares, or approximately 50% of its land mass (UNDP-FAO, 1984).Despite the huge arable land resources potential, only 14% of the country's total land mass is being utilized for crop cultivation.
LANDS POTENTIALLY SUITABLE FOR IRRIGATION
CLASSIFICATION OF IRRIGATION PROJECTS
The following criteria are used for classification of irrigation projects in Ethiopia : Small Scale under 200 ha Medium scale 200 to 3,000 ha Large scale Over 3,000 ha
Based upon the various river basin master plans and land and water resources surveys, the aggregate irrigation potentials of Ethiopia have been estimated to be 2,523,000 million hectares, net. The gross irrigation potential would be about 3.7 million hectares.
TOTAL AREA UNDER TRADITIONAL & MODERN IRRIGATION
The total area irrigated till 1991 was 176015 ha, this figure had increased to 197,250 ha in 1998. According to data recently compiled by MOWR 2004/5 from different master plan studies and regions the area under irrigation in the country has increased to about 250,613 ha. This is due to rapid increment of the area under traditional irrigation.
ON GOING IRRIGATION PROJECTS
1. Kesem & Tendeho Irrigation Projects
The projects are found in the Awash Basin . A total of 90,000ha Irrigation area with all its infrastructure & Dams design completed. With in the coming one year it is assumed that all of is construction works will be completed.
2. Ethiopian Nile Irrigation & Drainage Projects These projects are found in the Abbay & Tekeze Basins.
Arjo- Dedesa Irrigation Projects.
This project area is located in the Abbay Basin .
It has a total area of 14,300 ha.
Previously it was studied to a reconnaissance level.
It is now been studied at feasibility and design level. It is assumed that the study will be completed within the next 6 months.
Humara Irrigation Project
This project area is located in the Tekeze Basin .
It has a total area of 43,000 ha.
Previous & it was studied at perfectibility level.
It is now been studied at feasibility and design level.
Gumara Irrigation Project.
This project area is situated around Lake Tana in the Nile Basin . It has a total area of 14,000 ha. Previously the area was studied to a reconnaissance level. The project will be studied at a design level. It is assumed that at the end of one year it. Construction work will start.
3. Lake Tana sub basin irrigation project.
Ethiopian Government financed projects The projection areas are located in Abbay Basin . It includes North East Lake Tana, North West Lake Tana , South West Lake Tana, Jemma, Megech, Rib and Gilgel Abbay Irrigation Project. Feasibility study and detailed design projects. They constitutes a total area of 62,457 ha The project will be completed within a year. It is expected that the construction work will be started after one year. World Bank financed projects. It includes Rib, Megech and Anger Irrigation Projects Feasibility and Detailed Design Project Covers a total of 20,000 ha.
4. Koga Irrigation Project.
This project is located in Abbay Basin. It is under construction It covers a total area of 7,000ha.
5. Lake Abbaya Sub-basin Irrigation Project
It includes Gelana, Gidabo and Billate Irrigation Projects.
They are located in the Rift Valley Lakes Basin. The Total area of this project is 31,920 ha. The projects will be studied at design level The study will be a completed within a year.
6. Ziway Irrigation Project
It is feasibility study and detailed design project
The project area is located in the Rift Valley Lakes Basin. The project area covers 15,500 ha. The project will be a completed within a year.
7. Wabi Shabele Basin Irrigation Project.
This includes Gololcha ,Errer, Iliyon and Buldaho Irrigation Projects Feasibility study projects They make up a total area of 52,920 ha. These projects will be studied at feasibility level. It will be completed within a year.
8. Raya Valley Pressurized Irrigation Project
Feasibility study and Detailed design project Located in Danakil dry basin Source of water is ground water Total area being studied is 18 000 ha The project will be completed in a year
9. Kobo-Girana Valley Pressurized Irrigation Project
Feasibility study and Detailed design project Located in Danakil dry basin and partly in Awash Basin Source of water is ground water Total area being studied is 17,000 ha The project will be completed in a year
10. Wolkyte Irrigation Project
Feasibility study and Detailed design project Located in Tekeze Basin Total area being studied is about 40,000 ha