BY ANDUALEM SISAY GESSESSE – The land and weather of Ethiopia is favorable for most of the popular fruits ranging from apple, avocado, strawberry, orange, pineapple, banana, lemon, papaya, mango, watermelon, among others. from Tigray, Benishangul Gumz, to Amhara, Oromia, and Dire Dawa, all the regions of Ethiopia are suitable for growing different fruits.
Like other crops and vegetables, most of these fruits are grown by smallholder farmers. Meanwhile in recent years especially after the country opened its door for flower growers, some international companies have been engaged in production of fruits such as, strawberry targeting mainly export market.
Dozens of companies have also been engaged in collecting these fruits and exporting to neighboring countries.
Total fruits production of Ethiopia which was around 410,000 metric tones in 2005 has almost doubled in 2018 reaching 800,000 metric tons in 2018, according to data of the Central Statistics Agency (CSA).
However, most of the produce are consumed by the growers, while only less than 50,000 metric tons was sold, according to the August 2021 paper by Fantu Bachewe and Bart Minten from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
In terms of the area covered with fruits, it has increased to about 120,000 hectares in 2028, from some 45,000 hectares in 2005.
When it comes to productivity, it has declined to 7 metric tons per hectare in 2019 from around 9.4 metric tons per hectare in 2005, according the study.
During the first six months of the current budget years of Ethiopia started July 8, 2021, Ethiopia has earned about $9 million from export of fresh and dried fruits.
The previous year (2020/21) in 12 months the country has earned close to $11.12 million from fruits export of net 29,009,156 kilograms).
This shows that one kilogram of Ethiopia’s dried or fresh fruit is sold for around 0.36 USD. In Djibouti, which imports about 90 percent of Ethiopia’s fruits, the retail price of one kilogram of avocado today is between $6 to $7.
The fact that the average FOB value of Ethiopia’s fruit is less than half a U.S. dollar, suggests that like most of Ethiopia’s export items fruit export is also a victim of under invoicing practices.
During the same year Ethiopia has also earned an additional $530,000 from value added processed fruits export which includes passion fruits juice, organic avocado oil crude, according to export data from Ethiopian Customs Commission.
From year 2019/20 earnings of Ethiopia from fresh and dried fruits export has increased by around $2 million.
Avocado, which joins fruit export menu of Ethiopia recently, is expected to soon become the major export fruit of the country. The major export fruits of Ethiopia are banana, avocado, mango, papaya, strawberry, orange, lemon, and orange.
When it comes to export destinations of Ethiopia’s fruits, the neighboring Djibouti is the major destination for all fruit exports of Ethiopia. Following Djibouti, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia are also destinations of Ethiopia’s fruits, according to the latest customs data.