After spending his first years in power fighting internal wars, Ethiopia's head of state, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, is now concentrating on the country's agriculture and economy.
After spending his first years in power fighting internal wars, Ethiopia's head of state, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, is now concentrating on the country's agriculture and economy. Part of his government's drive to aid the country's recovery from war and revolution is being aimed at forestry.
SYNOPSIS: These students recently (15 July) graduated from a new forestry school.
In an address by the head of the country's Forestry and Wildlife Development Authority, Mr Ato Yewond-Wossen Melesse, they were told they were the spearhead of Ethiopia's attempt to expand and revitalise forestry.
He said at one time forty percent of the country had been covered by forest, but this had now fallen to only four percent. The twenty-one graduates ad completed a two-year advanced course in forestry development and technology at the Wondo-Genet Forestry Institute, situated 260 kilometres (160 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa.
The ceremony for the first graduates was held at the Institute's headquarters in the Sedamo Province, which are run with the aid of the Swedish International Development Agency.
The head of the Institute is an Ethiopian, Mr. A. Emagnu, and four teachers are Ethiopian. However, a Swedish teacher, another from Norway, and one from Britain, are also on the Institute's staff.
Last year the Ethiopian Forestry and Wildlife authority seeded 25 million trees in various areas, and this year it plans to seed 45 million. As well as being a vital industry, forestry is important in preventing soil-erosion, a big problem in a drought-prone country with large desert regions. Any effort to aid Ethiopia's 'green campaign' is seen by the authorities as a step in the right direction.