Ethiopia has suitable climate which could allow the thriving of various flora and fauna. That is why, it has become one of the growing horticulture destinations in Africa. When we see the progress being witnessed in recent years, the nation has able to enhance the sector to higher level. Several domestic and foreign investors have been engaging in horticulture development since 1991, using the swift investment policy being designed by the Ethiopian government to encourage and promote investment developments in the country. As a result, the sector has attracted huge Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flow and massively maximized foreign currency earnings.
According to Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA), Ethiopia has gained 300 million USD from flower and other horticulture products in 2017. From this, flower export takes the highest share. The Authority has been working to upgrade the export earnings in 2018 fiscal year and the result would be revealed at the end of the year.
Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association, Promotion and Service Head, Yemisrach Berhanu told the Ethiopian Herald that even though the country has 11.5 million hectare of land which is conducive for horticulture production, only 2.5 million ha is being utilized at this time.
"The government, our Association and other stakeholders are working in concert to take the horticulture sector to higher level. We are striving to make it the top foreign currency earning sector. To realize this ambition, all who are engaged in the sector should work in collaboration," she added.
She insisted that the global market demand for Ethiopian horticulture products is growing from time to time and Ethiopian products have been exported to Europe, North America, Middle East and Far East countries. The major export horticulture items which were sent to the aforementioned areas include flowers, vegetables and highland strawberry.
"Though it is needs more attention, horticulture is among the fastest growing sectors in Ethiopia. It has shown incredible development over the last two decades. Beyond contributing for generating foreign currency earning, it has created job opportunities for more than 200,000 citizens. Out of this number, 70 percent of them are women," Yemsirach indicated that though the sector is growing, there are challenges which are hampering it.
"The challenges facing the horticulture sector include pests, shortage of fertilizer, and drought.Also costs of fuel used for pumping irrigation motors, lack of land, absence of transportation, dearth of marketing institutions which could protect the interest of producers, gaps of coordination among producers are but to mention a few," she said.
Another challenge being witnessed is the political unrest, which broke out in the couple of years. She did not hide that there were flower farms that suffered damages by the destructive protest in some areas of the Oromia and Amhara States. But after the ruling party (EPRDF) elected new Prime Minister, peace and stability is restored and investors, who were discouraged by the unrest, have been compensated. Moreover, the government and other concerned bodies are gearing up to address the challenges once for all so as to transform the sector.
For his part, Ethiopian Horticulture and Agriculture Investment Authority (EHAIA) Deputy CEO, Adugna Debella (PhD) said that beyond the already