Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Ethiopia to possibly lead in fresh produce in Africa

The production of fruits, vegetables and herbs for the export market has been identified as an important development sector under the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). The Ethiopian Fruits and Vegetables Investment Summit, which will be held on July 19th 2012 at Hilton Hotel held a press conference on Thursday July 5, 2012 discussing its aims and visions.
With a good mix of incentives and active facilitation, the Government of Ethiopia took a non-existing flower sector and developed it into a USD $200 million export sector, creating more than 85,000 jobs. Now it seems the country is determined to repeat the flower miracle, this time in developing a strong export oriented fruits and vegetables sector. 
“The potential this country has in fruits and a vegetable is even more awesome,” said Hailesilassie Tekie, Director General of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency. “While there are plenty of opportunities for commercial farmers, there also exists significant opportunities in harnessing smaller holder farmers into out grower schemes. The opportunities are endless.  As the sector is very high on the priority of the Government of Ethiopia, we are preparing suitable land for investors, creating a better business operating environment, as well as facilitating adequate cold chain and logistics investments to ensure produce reaches regional and global markets in an efficient manner” he added.
The summit aim is to promote fruits and vegetable as a lucrative investment opportunity to local and foreign investors, help investors understand the industry dynamics driving long term opportunities in the sectors as well as create networking and deal making opportunities for investors, service providers, policy makers and donors.
It was stated at the press conference that the Embassy of Netherlands played a significant role in supporting the development of Floriculture in Ethiopia and the embassy will also support the fruits and vegetable production as well. “We already have buyers from Europe who would like to source Ethiopian fruits and vegetables,” said Geert Westenbrink, Agriculture advisor at the Embassy. “There is great scope for expanding the capacity to produce and thus a plethora of investment opportunities in Ethiopia,” he added.
It was stated that Ethiopia’s agro-climatic conditions are suitable to grow just about any type of fruits and vegetables. Given low labor costs, extensive Government support, existence of input suppliers, and proximity to all the major markets, Ethiopia can be much more competitive than the continent’s heavy weights in the sector, Kenya and South Africa.
“Due to these factors, the fruits and vegetables sector of Ethiopia offers an enticing opportunity for investors searching for opportunities” said Henok Assefa, Managing Partner at Precise Consult International, an investment advisory firm based in Addis Ababa and New York City. “We find the opportunity so compelling, that with adequate investment in cold transport infrastructure, Ethiopia will emerge as a leading exporter of fresh produce in Africa”.
The summit is organized by the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency (EHDA), Ethiopia Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA), the Embassy of Netherlands and Precise Consult International PLC (PCI).