Ethiopia over the past decade has managed to transform its horticulture sector from scratch to about 270 million USD export business.
The sector that has managed to attract more than 100 companies has so far relied on farmlands scattered in various areas which have the potential for the sector. Horticulture farms occupy about 3000 hectares of land dispersed across the country.
According to Ethiopian Investment Commission, the government is considering the idea of organizing the sector into cluster and gathering farms in parks. Deputy Commissioner of EIC, Dr. Belachew Mekuria told ENA that the idea is to collect horticulture farms in parks designed for this purpose.
"It is not proper to let the industry with such high job creation potential and important role in the foreign trade to rely on dispersed farms: It should be in cluster industrial parks" he said.
He said potential areas for horticulture clusters have been identified in various parts of the country.
"Five big clusters are prepared in the country in Bahir Dar, Hawassa, Arbaminch as well as North [Ethiopia] which have one stop services and zero liquid discharge filtering system" Belachew said.
By doing this, the country hopes to concentrate horticulture farms in parks like the industries. It would help companies to get access to one stop services.
It would also enable companies to easily access air transport to major market destinations, proved by the recent move by the Ethiopian Airlines to open direct freighter services dedicated to flowers between Bahir Dar and to Liege, Belgium.
The pledge by the Airline to avail similar freighter services from other flower producing regional states such as Hawassa and others, display that products from these areas would easily reach market destinations.
However, providing farms for companies in various parts of the country will continue, till this cluster system get into effect.
According to the Horticulture and Agriculture Investment Authority, some 6,000 hectares of land has allotted for horticulture investment in various areas this year.
Dr Adugna Debela, Deputy CEO told ENA that attracting companies is being underway by promoting the available land as well as incentives offered to companies.
He said the Authority has introduced new incentive packages to support the sector and to attract local and foreign companies.
Local companies were expected to bring 30 percent of the total initial capital to get loans from development bank of Ethiopia to start their businesses. This has now reduced to 15 percent.
Tax relief is another incentive extended to companies. If a company managed to export 85 percent of the production for three consecutive years, it is entitled to eight years tax relief and exemption from duties on imports of capital goods and equipments.
article by - Ethiopia News Agency