The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has recently launched a 10 year National Horticulture Development and Marketing Strategy to boost up sector's performance.
The primary objective of the new Strategy lies on enhancing sub-sector's contribution to nation's economic growth through facilitating horticulture development, expanding physical market infrastructure, adopting new technologies, creating effective out-growers linkage and modern production system.
Furthermore, it gives due attention to increasing export destinations, meet the growing demand of end users and other actors in the chain as well. Improving small and medium farmers' access to agro-processing materials and building agro-industry parks are also the other remedies proposed in the 10 years Strategy to improve sector's performance thereby boost nation's foreign currency earnings out of it.
Unarguably, for a country blessed with largest areas of fertile land, and agriculture is the major path to sustainable economic growth, utilizing its natural resource endowments efficiently is fundamental.
Benefiting from the fast growing demand and market opportunities available in the regional and global markets and the importance of export-oriented strategy are incontrovertible today than ever.
It is a clear fact that the horticulture sub-sector has shown a steady growth year after year and become one of the contributors in terms of ensuring food and nutrition security over the years. And it is also becoming a source of income to the rural people and pastorialists, and generating a huge amount of foreign currency to the nation.
In the just ended Ethiopian fiscal year the sub-sector has generated a total of 53.5 million USD and created job opportunities for over 260,000 citizens.
In the year 2015/16, the nation, exporting over 163 thousand tons of sub-sector's products, earned 49.20 million USD, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resource recent publication stated.
Currently, horticultural produces are produced in over four million hectares of land with annual production capacity of about six million tons of vegetables, fruits and roots. And every year, nearly 2.7 million hectares of land is developed for horticultural crops through irrigation.
However the cultivation and the earning capacity of the nation in exporting agricultural commodities is unsatisfactory when compared with the country's overall potential.
The reasons behind this unimpressive earning have been ascribed to low adoption of modern technologies and limitation in accessing the existing ones for farmers, lack of high yielding variety seeds and failure to detach from backward farming practices.
Moreover, unavailability of appropriate logistics such as lack of storage and transportation facilities, post-harvest losses and backward marketing systems as well as other related constraints have also affected sub-sector's performance negatively.
In this regard, the newly designed Strategy sees horticulture produce export as one of the best mechanisms that seize opportunities for future growth and development.
The Strategy was designed by taking other countries' best experiences and considering nation's reality on the ground. Thus, it is anticipated to have considerable contribution in realizing nation's export-oriented development strategies.
However, merely setting strategy is not an end by itself that brings about the desired outcomes. Rather, it requires calculated and effective implementation.
To this effect, coordination and concerted efforts among the Ministry, pertinent bodies at all levels, farmers, and other actors in the transaction is critical to achieve the objectives set.
Hence, the Ministry has greater responsibility and assignment for the successful realization of the strategy and thereby increase nation's export performance.