As one of the major cereals produced in Ethiopia, wheat accounts for 17.5% of major crops production (including oilseeds and pulses). Its end uses include consumption for food, animal feed, and industrial raw material. The major types of wheat grown in Ethiopia consist of Bread wheat, Durum wheat and Emmer wheat.

Product Varieties: Durum wheat, differentiated by its big size and weight is mainly suitable for pasta, macaroni, pastini and other manufacturing products.The improved varieties of Durum wheat include: DZ 04-118 (Arendet), DZ 04-668 (Maru), Kokerit 71, Jerardo, LD 357, Buhe, Foka, Klinto, Bichena, Tob 66 (arsi robe), Quami, Assassa, Robe, and Ginch.

Bread wheat, which comprises about half the area of wheat in the country, bears flour when broken and has a softer texture when compared to Durum wheat. This type of wheat is highly demanded by the agro-industries and is widely grown in high land and semi-highland parts of the country; specifically, Arsi, Bale, Western Shoa, Eastern Shoa, Northern Shoa, Kembata, Hadya, Alaba, Gojam, North and South Gonder, North Wollo and Tigray Regions. The improved varieties of bread wheat include: Dereselign, k-6290-Belik, k-6295-4A, ET 13, Paven 76, Mitike (HAR 1709), Wabe (HAR 710), Kubsa (HAR 1685), Galema (HAR 604), Abol (HAR 1522), Megal (HAR 1595), Tuse (HAR 1407). There are also other varieties of bread wheat that are in the process of being disseminated to farmers. This includes: Ktar (HAR 1899), Tura (HAR 1775), Simba (HAR 2536), Hawi (HAR 2501), Dodota (HAR 2508), Watera (HAR 1920), Shena (HAR 1868), Meda welabu (H1480AR), Sof Omar (HAR 1889), Sirbo (HAR 2192), Dure (HAR 1008), Guna (HAR 20292029), and KBG-0 (FH-1-7A). On the other hand, Emmer wheat /Aja/ has a double-coated outer layer. It is mainly grown in Arsi, Bale, west Shoa, east Shoa, north and south Wollo and other areas having similar agro ecological conditions.

Agro-Ecological Conditions: The planting period for wheat in Ethiopia varies slightly from area to area. In general though, the normal planting period for wheat extends from early June to mid-August. Wheat grows at altitudes of 1,600-3,200m above sea level, at an average temperature ranging from 15-25ºC with suitable rainfall ranging between 400 and 1,200mm. Normal rainfall distribution is expected during early growth period. While it can grow in many parts throughout Ethiopia, wheat is widely grown in southeastern, central and northwestern parts of the country. Additionally, places that are suitable for irrigation agriculture are conducive for wheat growth.

Domestic Production: In 2005/06, the volume of main season production of wheat was 2.4 million tons with the lion’s share of wheat production in the country originating from Oromia (59%), Amhara (27%) and SNNPR (9%). The main season yield for wheat, for the period 1998/99-2005/06, ranged from a low of 1.08 mt/hectare to a high of 1.67mt/hectare. During this period, wheat yield levels averaged 1.36 mt/hectare.

Commercialization: Excluding the volume of grain set aside for consumption, 28% of total grain production (including oilseeds and pulses) is marketed, of which 15.4% percent is accounted for by wheat. Crop utilization survey data shows that, of the total national production of wheat, 59.27% was utilized for household consumption, 19.54% for sale, while the balance was used for seed, wage in kind, animal feed and other uses.

Domestic Trade structure/characteristics: In general, the commercial grain supplies mainly come from the production of small farmers, private commercial farmers, state farmers, imports and food aid. The market participants in Wheat trade include producers (small holders and commercial farms), wholesalers, retailers, part-time farmer- traders, brokers, agents, assemblers, processors, cooperatives, EGTE, and consumers.

Global Scenario: Though the export of wheat is negligible, Ethiopia’s export of cereals and cereal preparations allowed national export earning in 2005/06 was 38,466 tons, valued at 14 million USD. Globally, the world production of wheat reached 632.6 million tons in 2004 of which world export of wheat in 2004 totaled 19.3 billion USD and the volume of export was 118.8 million tons. The volume of world import of wheat was 116 million tons valued at 21 billion USD.

Prices: Over the period 2004-06, the price of white wheat displays a similar pattern of relatively low post-harvest January prices followed by a period of rising prices reaching their peak during the main rainy season. However, the price variability of wheat is significant. The Addis Ababa Central market intra-year price variation between highest and lowest prices shows a low 26% in 2006, while this was 29% and 36% in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Nevertheless, the price of wheat in 2006 shows drastically higher prices compared to the preceding years for all the months.