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The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the Dutch development partner SNV launched a small scale horticulture project to produce and minimize the use of chemicals during the production process.

Hortil Life will begin early this month and support small scale farmers in 11 weredas in Oromia, Tigrai, Amhara and SNNP regions over the next three years.

Gerrit Holtland, Project Manager of Hortil Life says hopes are that their work will increase exports from local farmers

They will strive to get more small farmers involved in creative and viable ways of farming and marketing their produce so that food security and safety is improved and they have better access to high end markets.  Plans are to minimize the use of chemicals on small farms by 30 percent while improving production. Experts at the project office told Capital that the Hortil Life project should also reduce chemical residues on horticulture produce by 50 percent.

During the ceremony at Friendship Hotel participants said they expect to be able to increase the number of small farmers involved in innovative and commercially viable horticulture production by 30 percent in 2023.

Hopes are that this will lead to 30 percent more food secure small holder farmer households by 2023.

“This endeavor will increase the availability of high quality and safe horticulture products on the market by 50 percent in 2023,” the project manager explained during his presentation.

He added that it would also increase the volume of horticulture produce supplied to high value and export markets by small holder farmers 100 percent in 2023 while at the same time improve regulations during several million euro project.

One of Ethiopia’s major imports is food despite having a strong agricultural economy. In 2014 Ethiopia’s horticulture sector has generated more than USD 45 million. From the total amount the vegetable sector has taken almost USD 40 million.

Almost 95 percent of Ethiopia’s horticulture product is produced by smallholders and only five percent is produced by commercial farmers, which is exported to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.