Ethiopia: Diversifying Export Earners Via Horticulture Sector Competitiveness

The higher management of the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders recently held discussion on options of expanding the horticulture investment and the national project of boosting avocado production in areas with potential and suitable climate.

Ethiopia has a great opportunity for horticulture development due to the favorable climatic conditions, fertile soils, huge irrigation potential and affordable manpower.

The sector has attracted a significant amount of domestic and foreign investment. Ethiopia's horticulture products have had also a chance to penetrate into the international market in the past two decades.

One of the major focus areas of the recent discussion were ways of tapping the huge potential in the sector and the performance so far. It was also mentioned on the occasion that there are a number of natural and socio-economic enabling factors that can give the horticulture sector competitive advantages in the international market. Besides the abundant potential, the geographical proximity of the country to major international markets (such as the Middle East and Europe) put the country in an advantageous position.

The sector is one of the five largest contributors of export income in 2018/19 where it earned 315.14 million USD. In this regard, floriculture and the expanding vegetable, fruits, and herbs subsectors contributed 79 and 21 percent of the export revenue respectively. During that time, the horticulture sector has created some 200,000 jobs.

In addition, the fact that Ethiopian Airlines gives standardized cargo service is another factor that is attractive for investors to invest in the lucrative sector. Currently, the Ethiopian has over 57 cargo and 101 passenger destinations around the world.

The government also provides a number of incentives for investors in the sector including tax exemption and duty-free importation of machinery construction materials, spare parts, raw materials, and vehicles. The government has also facilitated loan access from the Development Bank of Ethiopia and access to land supply 30 for free whose lease extends up to 30 years.

State Minister of Horticulture Development Sector at the Ministry of Agriculture,Wondale Habtamu said the government has mainly focused on introducing end to end interventions in the horticulture value chain to address the critical bottlenecks of the sector.

Wondale added that the government has been working to promote the use of improved technologies to enhance the quality of products, increase food security, increase the income of smallholders and contribute to the national agriculture commodities export. In addition, the activity aims at improving the nutritional status of households and creating job opportunities at various levels.

Professor Ali Mohammed, the lecturer and senior researcher at Jimma University on his part said Ethiopia has abundant natural potential and resources to produce fruits and vegetables due to its favorable climate zones. "Hence, if the right set of policy interventions and strategies are there, it would be possible for the sector to make a significant contribution to the economy by exporting standardized products to the international market."

Abdela Negash Horticulture Development and Technology Transfer Directorate Director at the Ministry said that Ethiopia has diverse climatic zones and long growing seasons which are important for producing horticulture. There is a potential for the country to become the 5th largest non-EU exporter to the EU market and the 2nd largest flower exporter from Africa after the neighboring country Kenya.

As to him, Ethiopia has been exporting those horticulture products to the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Norway, Sweden, UK, the Middle East, and other EU countries.

Minister of Agriculture Oumer Hussen on his part said the government is working towards modernizing the horticulture sectors through refining and strengthening the legal, policy, and regulatory environment.

Oumer noted that extending the work of Support to Responsible Governance of Investments in land use policy global program in Ethiopia, with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)/ German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) is expected to boost food Security and tenure rights through Responsible Agriculture Investments including in the horticulture sector.

The Ministry of Agriculture is working with its implementing partners to systematically remove the bottleneck that hinders production, productivity, and market requirements, he added.

He added that Ethiopia should start to produce horticulture not only in highland areas but also in the lowland areas scientifically. The Minister has also presented future directions of the sector for stakeholders and participants.

The Ethiopian herald January 13/2021

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