Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Produce growers aim to tap global market

The world is beginning to take notice of Ethiopian produce as last week’s Ethiopian Fruits and Vegetables Investment Summit attracted several international stakeholders.
The summit held on Thursday July 19 at the Addis Hilton Hotel, featured discussions and exhibitions about the emerging fruit and vegetables market that is now seen as a potential source of export revenue.
Much of the talk revolved around how to make sure people who earn their living from fruits and vegetables are able to make the most out of the potential that produce has. Plans were made to utilize as many resources as possible in what is seen as a major untapped resource of the country. 
Tefera Derebew, Minister of Agriculture, said that the government has made fruits and vegetables a major part of the nation’s development strategy.
According to the association officials, companies came from Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Consultants, input suppliers, farms and other potential stakeholders attended, many of whom were making their first trip to Ethiopia. Fruit and vegetable growers, international buyers, insurers, logistic companies, financiers, banker and airlines also attended the summit.
“Because of the attention given by the government today we can witness the presence of over 120 high-tech commercial agriculture farms in Ethiopia, engaged in the production and export of flowers, fruits and vegetables,” he said.
Currently more than half of the total investments in the industry are foreign direct investors mainly from Netherlands and India. From the total companies about 20 percent are involved in the development of fruits and vegetables. According to Tefera, during the last four years alone, the area of land being used for cultivation of produce has expanded by more than ten times to reach 11,000 hectares.
“This investment summit is very important to the Ethiopian government, because it will provide stakeholders vital information and help people who want to invest in fruits and vegetables to network,” said Tefera in his opening speech.  He added that the government is fully committed to the endeavour and that the summit will help motivate people who want to be involved in the sector.
Gebre Michael Habte, agronomist and fruit and vegetable consultant and country representative of Sunripe Limited Kenya, told Capital that the event will help Ethiopia link with the global market. It will also demonstrate the nation’s ability to be a major player on the international market.  Sunripe works with Akirma Agri Services, a local fruit and vegetable consultant. It showcased it’s products at the summit. The country representative said that the Kenyan company is exported eight Ethiopian fresh peas producers product to European market.  
“The summit should focus on actually visiting farms because it was the best way to link international stakeholders with local producers and exporters and to show what kinds of farms we have,” he commented.
The summit was organized by Ethiopian Horticultural Development Agency, Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Precise Consult International.