A 10-year National Horticulture Development and Marketing Strategy that aimed at enhancing the product and productivity of horticultural products for better commercialization was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In an opening remark he made at the launching workshop, Minister Dr. Eyasu Aberha stated that the strategy is designed to the horticulture sector to play a meaningful role in reducing the country’s dependency on rain-fed agriculture and enhancing irrigation development.
The strategy is also essential for Ethiopia to utilize its enormous irrigation potential estimated to be 11 million hectares and could support the livelihoods of 44 million people according to Dr. Eyasu.
The Minister outlined government’s commitment in providing export incentives, customs duty exemption, income tax holidays and land in competitive lease price to attract more private investments in the sector.
He said: “Due to government’s rigorous effort, the private sectors’ involvement in the horticulture industry has shown a sharp progress and they have been playing a meaningful role in job creation, technology and knowledge transfer as well as foreign currency earning.’’
Regarding the exploration of new export destination and consolidating outstanding market niches, the Minister noted that the government is doing its level best and as result country’s horticultural products are attracting international buyers.
“Many European and Middle East countries have shown a growing demand to import Ethiopia’s horticultural products and leads the incumbent to increase market-oriented products, enhance post-harvest storage and modernize the marketing system,’’
Furthermore, due consideration has also been given to improve input, technology, and extension services and maximize the benefits of all stakeholders in agriculture value chain, Dr. Eyasu said.
He further said a plan has already set to connect market-oriented horticultural products in the agro-industry parks to enhance the cluster horticultural development.
For his part, State Minister Tesfaye Mengiste said that the strategy aimed at employing new technologies to commercialize the horticulture sector and maximize the export revenue.
As to him, the strategy redefined irrigation as the driving force to boost country’s agricultural products thereby supplying to international markets sufficiently.
“Ethiopia set to develop 4.1 million hectares of land through irrigation and produce 62.8 million tons of fruits and vegetables, and roots by the end of the second Growth and Transformation Plan by small scale farmers and private investors.’’
The country secured 49.2 million USD from horticulture in 2015/16 fiscal year, he said, adding due attention has been given to increase export earnings.
Tesfaye said the government has been taking various measures to further consolidating role of agriculture in transforming the country’s economy mentioning the formulation of policies and strategies, implementation of packages, allocation of huge resources and establishment of agricultural education and research institutions.
The workshop attracted professionals and leaders from the Ministry, state bureaus, research institutions, private companies engaged in the horticulture sector and pertinent stakeholders.