Ethiopia has managed to transform its horticulture sector with a span of 15 years from scratch close to 300 million USD export business through attracting potential investors, Ethiopia's Horticulture and Agriculture Investment Authority underscores.
In earlier years, the sector was characterized by traditional farming system rather than modern agriculture techniques. As a result, its share for country's economic development was insignificant.
Later on, following the introduction of modern agriculture, the sectors is growing and contributing to national export earning. Currently, the sector is contributing to country's economy and has created jobs for over 200,000 citizens, of which 70 percent are females, as documents from the authority indicate.
In Ethiopia, about 12,797 hectares of suitable land is available for horticulture. However, only 11 percent of it is used for this purpose. Recently flower has been produced in 1,600 hectares of land. Even so, the production compared to nation's potential for horticulturet is very small, the document further indicate.
The country is earning much better foreign currency than ever by exporting horticulture products like flowers, vegetable and highland strawberry to the international market, the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters' Association Chief Executive Director Tewoderos Zewdie told The Ethiopian Herald.
Ethiopia has got quite competitive and comprehensive advantage for the production and export of horticulture products to various market destinations, including the EU, USA, Middle East and Asia. The availability of ample workforce is also the other opportunity in horticulture development in the nation, he opines.
HPP International Group Company Chief Executive Officer Dick Van Raamsdonk also states that Ethiopia is now becoming one of the most important flower growing and exporting country in the world.
Indicating that he had a chance to visit the flower industry, Dick says Ethiopia has high quality products. This has enabled it to export its products to well known cut flower importing countries. He commented "The produces, compared to Ecuador, Colombia and Kenya, have fulfill the same high standards and meet market entry requirements in quality and safety."
Dick advises the Association and the Authority to keep on maintaining the pre and post-harvest treatments of flowers including the quality of exported cut flowers. Equally, more efforts need to exert to maintain and promote high quality exportable horticulture products.
Authority's Horticulture Sector Deputy Manger Dr. Adugna Debella says that the nation has been promoting horticulture resource potential to attract potential investors to the country. The Authority, for instance, is working with embassies to further promote country's potential in that regard, he adds.
Low price of electricity, land supply with reasonable price, cheap labor-force among others are conducive environment to further develop the sector, Tewoderos says.
Eyeing the huge potential of the sector, the government of Ethiopia availed 6000 hectares of land for horticultural hubs established at Alage, Arbaminch, Hawassa and Bahir Dar. Likewise, favorable conditions are also created to potential investors engaged in the horticulture sector. The Authority in its part is also promoting the sector through participating in international expo, Dr. Adugna remarks.
As to him, the weather being conducive, the availability of underground water, The Ethiopian with over 100 international flight destinations, the commencement of the new Ethio-Dijibuti railway route are major contributing factors to further flourish the sector.
According to Tewoderos, the Ethiopian horticulture and floriculture industry has developed over the past 15 years to be a full grown player and put itself on the world maps as one of the leading exporters of cut flowers.
Dr. Adugna says that in order to accelerate the export capacity, new developments have been seen over the last two years. He further highlights "The newly built cargo terminal-II by the Ethiopian covering a total area of 150,000 square meter gives a total tonnage capacity of around 1 meter per annum together with terminal-1. The dry cargo terminal warehouse, a perishable cargo terminal with cool chain storage which makes it the largest in the continent are also the other developments that support the sector."
However, challenges such as frequent power outages and long-bureaucracy need to be addressed to further flourish the sector and make it more competitive in the international market."
According to the Ethiopian Horticulture and Agriculture Investment information, 130 investors are now operating in the nation in the horticulture sector.