Horti-LIFE III aims to increase rural income, jobs and diet diversity by improving the productivity, diversity and food safety in the horticultural sector in a gender balanced and nutrition sensitive way.

Building on the success of the first and second phases, the third phase of the Horticultural Livelihoods, Innovation and Food safety in Ethiopia (Horti-LIFE) project aims to contribute to horticultural sector growth and improved nutritional status of the target community, by institutionalising the FFS extension approach, increasing incomes, production, productivity, and food safety in a climate-smart, gender-balanced and nutrition sensitive way.

The project is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the Regional Bureaus of Agriculture in seven regions across Ethiopia and supports 250,000 smallholder farmers in 165 districts. Horti-LIFE started in 2016 as a pilot project, increasing its scope over time until its current stage which focuses on 10 different components all working towards strengthening the horticultural sector in Ethiopia. The current phase, financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ethiopia, started on October 2023 and will run until Dec 2029.

The project focuses on various components of the horticultural sector. It improves the quality of the supported fruits and vegetables from farm to fork by supporting not only production, but also:

  • improving the quality of the food produced

  • supporting the development of a local seed sector

  • increasing the availability of high-quality vegetable and fruit seedlings

  • improving the competences of current extension officials, as well as the future generation of extension workers

  • supporting dietary diversity

  • providing access to finance

Horti-LIFE promotes Farmers’ Field Schools as an approach to increase the productivity of selected vegetables and fruits of smallholder horticultural farmers, as well as to improve food safety. To improve the availability of bio-pesticides, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) is supported to draft new regulations allowing for the use of biologicals. Campaigns and sensitisation events are also used in the community. For example, nutritional awareness campaigns focus on improved dietary diversity for women and children.

To improve the competences of the next generation of extension workers, Agricultural TVETs are supported with improved training and teaching materials as well as investing in practical training facilities such as student learning plots.

In phase I and II, demand was created for high quality seeds, seedlings and agro inputs. To improve the availability of these inputs, service providers are supported through an investment facility. Agro-dealers, seed multipliers, fruit and vegetable nurseries, and tissue culture labs are financially supported. In phase III, over 260 SME’s will be financially and technically supported to improve their service delivery.

To ensure that farmers can procure these inputs, a specific horti-loan product was developed with 3 participating banks. In phase II this led to unlocking close to 1M USD in new finance for smallholder horticultural production. This component will be further strengthened, and additional banks will be included to increase the outreach to farmers.

In 2022 the MoA institutionalised the FFS approach, which is now considered as one of the preferred extension approaches promoted by the Ministry at different levels. The current phase of Horti-LIFE supports the Ministry at federal and regional level with the roll out of this approach, and will slowly reduce its support for the Government to take over completely.

Results from Horti-LIFE Phase I & II

  • 150,000 farmers reached, through more than 4,000 FFS

  • 34% increase in farmer yields

  • 43% increase in farmer earnings

  • Agro-dealers served an additional 15,000 farmers

  • Fruit nurseries produced an additional 1,1 million trees

  • 17 seed multipliers were licensed

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