The Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA) called on the government to avail land and ease its bureaucratic hurdles to help local and international horticulture firms looking to invest in Ethiopia.
Speaking to The Reporter this week, Executive Director of EHPEA, Tewodros Zewdie lamented federal and regional authorities’ weaknesses to provide land and their extended bureaucratic systems, amid the enormous request which is coming from international and domestic horticulture firms to invest in different parts of the country.
“We believe Ethiopia is a country with a huge potential to produce sufficient amount of horticulture produce that could help the nation substitute imports and export plenty of amounts,” said Tewodros.
Recent data indicates Ethiopia has over 15 million hectares of arable land. However, the Ethiopian commercial horticulture sector has been able to secure only 1400 hectares of land nationwide.
The horticulture sector contributes around USD half a billion annually to the total export proceeds of the country and employs over 200,000 Ethiopians, becoming among the top five largest foreign currency contributing sectors and export revenue generators.
Ethiopian horticultural commodities exported to overseas markets include assorted vegetables, cut flowers, fruits and triple concentrate tomato paste. However, there is still a huge domestic demand for these commodities.
“There are plenty of investors looking to invest in Avocado, Mango, Citrus products production and flower, and other areas, if bureaucracy issues are solved,” Tewodros said. He added “Ethiopia has potential to increase outputs of horticultural products by over tenfold, if the existing production is changed. Understanding this, our association is communicating with both federal and regional administrations in order to facilitate the provision of land for investors.”
The director added medium and large firms are looking for land along with existing horticultural firms to further expand their investment,; but their efforts have been to no avail.
Favorable weather condition and proximity to the international market are considered as the luring quality of Ethiopia to investors. And the existence of a very limited number of investors had made Ethiopia a more preferable destination.
Shortage of electricity, road infrastructure, input, improved seeds, chemicals, accessories, Forex crunch, and extended bureaucracy are hampering the sector.
A few months ago, the Ethiopian horticulture sector launched its technical and vocational training institute to scale up the knowledge gap in the existing firms. The training institute was established to elevate the capacity of the horticulture sector operators in the country, and ensure sustainability while undertaking smart agriculture.