Global experience of employment generation in timber plantations shows contrasting outcomes including in terms of rural development, but there are also commonalities such as poor working conditions, seasonality of employment and relatively low labor intensity over large areas compared to other land uses.
Ethiopia conforms to this pattern, based on a case study of an industrial timber plantation, with low wages and reliance on casual jobs without formal contracts in a rural context of a weak labor market with few employment opportunities.
Gender wise, the opportunities are uneven with a large majority of positions filled by men resulting in a marginal involvement of women, and a great potential for improvements in this field.
Employees with agricultural land (a minority) appreciate the provision of additional sources of incomes, and the flexibility in work arrangement that allows them to simultaneously engage in agricultural activities. However, we also notice that daily labor as the main model of employment has serious implications with respect to social security and various benefits that would be associated to labor contracts.
As the Government of Ethiopia is committed to promote afforestation and reforestation on 7 million hectares (ha) in view of making the country self-sufficient in wood, enhancing carbon sequestration and supporting green growth, these lessons would be usefully applied in the future. There are indeed great expectations that timber plantations and processing units will create significant rural and urban employment opportunities.