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The Government of Ethiopia, the Israeli Embassy and representatives from USAID signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in support of the Small Holder Horticulture Program (SHH) on Thursday June 7th 2012 at the Ministry of Agriculture. The objective of the program is to promote sustainable economic growth in rural areas by strengthening the commercial viability of fruit and vegetable products from small farms. Program activities will include supporting and establishing additional nurseries and additional tissue laboratories to meet market demand for quality plant materials.

The project will operate in four regions: Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and SNNPR. The sites include five fruit tree nurseries with the capacity of 300,000 plants per annum. There are also other nurseries for the introduction of new fruits like zizpus, figs and pomegranate. The USD two million program is said to directly contribute to the principles of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness by strengthening collaboration and partnership among bilateral donors and by encouraging host country ownership and leadership.

The program also established by a group of local experts, through local and overseas training of nursery and laboratory staff and extension agents.

“The key to sustaining this program will be manpower development, the small farmers will be learning not only on how to sell the vegetables and fruits as they are but also on how to turn them in to other products like juices and jams,” said Thomas H. Staal, Mission Director from USAID.

The SHH is a follow-on to a USAID, Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) and Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture Joint Technical Program in the areas of plant-bio technology, horticulture and water management and irrigation. The joint technical program was implemented by MASHAV in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and run from 2005 to the end of 2012. The current program will run from this year to 2015.