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A crop researcher with the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) lamented that the potential apple growing land situated in the highlands of Ethiopia remains uncultivated.
Asnake Fikre, Crops Research Director with MoA, told Capital that the government does not have the capacity to propagate apple seeds and it wants investors to distribute the seeds to farmers. “We firmly believe the works that have been done to start off the production are too small. We know that farmers do not get the seeds in the market because no company is interested to propagate it.”
In Ethiopia, areas situated 1,900 meters above sea level are said to be suitable for growing apple but the country continues to import the fruit from India and South Africa instead of using potential areas in the South and Northern regions.
Currently, a kilo of apple is sold for 60 Birr in the market. Chencha, Arbaminch, supplies a small portion of the local apple consumption.
Asnake further mentioned the long gestation period apple trees will take before it comes to fruition. “There is a strong tendency among farmers to choose cereal crops that give harvest in a short time and it is hard to convince them to shift to growing apples using some of their land. But if they wait patiently for two years, apples could bring them more income.” He added that the government is conducting researches and assisting farmers to scale up the production of temperate fruits including apple.
Getaneh Seleshi, a researcher at Holeta Research Center, said that the government is not giving sufficient backing to encourage more apple producers to go into the business. “Importing fruits that can be grown locally doesn’t make sense. The government must intensively work to convince farmers that apple production can bring large money.’’
In related news, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) gave training to farmers and development agents in Bosena Warana Wareda in Debrebirhan to motivate the farmers to venture into the apple business.
Ofer K kahani, MASHAV agriculture expert said, “We help the farmers in Butajjira and Debrebirhan to grow apples through providing trainings. We are also attempting to lure Israel investor to invest in apple farming in Ethiopia”.