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Ethiopia is looking to enjoy larger exports of fruits and vegetables into the European market with the support of the EDES food safety program.  A workshop to help the country establish a food safety system to international standards was held in Ethiopia with the support of the EDES Program managed by COLEACP (Europe-Africa-Caribbean- Pacific Liaison Committee) in collaboration with a consortium of European organizations specializing in food safety.
The initiative that commenced in 2009 in the African-Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to ensure safe food exports to Europe is now aiming to strengthen Ethiopia’s standard production capacity to boost the country’s food (fruit and vegetable) export to European countries.
The EDES program which supports ACP countries was developed to adequately meet the changing food safety requirement standards within the EU.
“COLEACP came up with the program to help countries develop systems to comply with the requirement,” said Dr. Chagema John Kedera, regional coordinator of EDES.
Currently Ethiopia is exporting coffee, fruit and vegetables, but the country’s export of vegetables and fruits does not surpass two percent in relation to the total amount exported from the stated regions (ACP).
COLEACP is a demand driven market, so countries that desire to export products to the EU and other international markets should thoroughly assess the situation.
Based on the new EU program, countries have been expected to meet the request for the program by following the EU food safety requirement standard. In the case of Ethiopia, although requests were made nearly two years, as of current, no request was delivered. “When the program was set up, as it is a demand driven process, countries were expected to provide a request but very few countries were made a request, so we now moved to a proactive approach,” the Regional Coordinator said.
However with the experienced growth in the sector and a recent request made from Ethiopian Horticulture Exporters Association for assistance on the fruits and vegetable side, EDES was encouraged to organize the two day workshop; talking about  the issues surrounding food safety starting from the lowest, looking at the official controls and exporters.
According to Melaku Tedla,  EDES local expert, representatives from the program have had detailed discussions with Wondyirad Mandefro State Minister of Agriculture, Conformity Ethiopian Food and Medicine Control Authority, Horticulture Exporter Association, Horticulture Development Agency, Coffee Exporters Association,  Standard Authority and other several offices before the workshop.
“We have organized this workshop to define the activities. After [which] we will then prepare and sign a memorandum of understanding with the government to continue the program for the country’s export with EU requirement,” he said. EDES will give technical support and share its governing system through its local experts to support the country’s expansion of its export market share in the EU. The EDES Programme is funded by EU (29.5 million euro).