Rosemary plant becomes new, lucrative cash crop in Central Ethiopia

Owing to its diverse agricultural landscape Ethiopia is well known for its big share in the global spice market. Spices, such as rosemary, ginger, pepper, chili pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves, have been an integral part of Ethiopian cuisine and culture for centuries, adding unique flavors and aromas to traditional dishes.

The production of spices in Ethiopia is primarily carried out on small-scale farms in rural areas, utilizing traditional cultivation methods and organic farming practices, often relying on natural rainfall. The country’s varied climate and topography provide suitable conditions for growing a wide range of spices, with different regions offering diverse temperatures, altitudes, and soil types.

In recent years, Ethiopia has made concerted efforts to promote spice production and increase exports. Recognizing the economic potential of the spice industry, the Ethiopian government has implemented policies to support farmers, improve infrastructure, and facilitate trade worldwide.

Within the spice industry, rosemary production has garnered significant attention. Rosemary, with its unique flavor profile, is highly valued for its various culinary applications, including frying meat and traditional Ethiopian stew. Moreover, rosemary’s inclusion in essential oil production and herbal and cosmetic products has further driven its global demand.

Rosemary has a potential health benefits that contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, supporting cognitive function, digestion, and reducing inflammation. Research suggests that rosemary may enhance memory and concentration, while its aroma improves cognitive performance and mood. It aids digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes and relieving discomfort.

Also, Rosemary’s antimicrobial properties help fight foodborne pathogens, reducing the risk of illnesses. Its odor promotes relaxation and stress relief in aromatherapy. Rosemary is beneficial for the skin, hair, and scalp, combating certain conditions and promoting hair growth. It may also help manage inflammation associated with various health conditions. However, individual responses may vary, and consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for personalized advice.

As a result, Ethiopian farmers have recognized the economic opportunities presented by rosemary cultivation and have shifted their focus to meet this growing demand. This shift has led to transformative changes in the lives of farmers, with rosemary becoming a valuable commodity in the domestic and international markets, contributing to increased foreign currency earnings for the country.

Ethiopian spices, including rosemary, are sought after globally, particularly in the Middle East, Europe, and North America, due to their unique flavors, organic nature, and cultural significance. The export of spices not only generates foreign exchange earnings for Ethiopia but also provides employment opportunities for rural communities.

Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Coordinator and Head of the Agriculture Bureau with the Rank of the Regional States Vice President, Usman Surur, told the Ethiopia Press Agency that the region’s emphasis on cultivating rosemary and other spices. Effective market linkages and support provided to farmers have resulted in a rapid expansion of rosemary cultivation in the Silte Zone.

According to data from the Silte Zone Agriculture Bureau for the 2012 E.C. harvest season (2019/20) rosemary fields in the zone covered only 560 hectares. However, by the 2015 E.C. harvest season, the cultivated area had expanded to over three thousand hectares, accompanied by a corresponding increase in annual production from 8 thousand quintals to 31 thousand quintals in the stated period (An average of 10 quintals per hectare). Usman emphasized that the region’s natural resources and favorable climate have enabled it to capitalize on spice production, particularly rosemary.

Last year, the Silte zone alone generated a staggering 2.8 million USD in export revenue from rosemary products, he said. However, in the fiscal year, the state’s rosemary farming endeavor resulted in a six-month income of 3.8 million USD, highlighting the economic viability of rosemary cultivation, he mentioned.

One of the key advantages of rosemary is its resilience to diseases, drought, and acidic soil, attributed to its inherent natural properties. Usman emphasized that the European market has recognized the quality of rosemary products by the region’s farmers, as evident in the acquisition of the Global Gap certificate in Germany. Additionally, over three thousand farmers have been granted the certification, which ensures compliance with international standards.

He stated that the bureau was working on the progress made and outlined plans for further expansion. The region aims to extend rosemary cultivation to Gurage, Hadia, Kambata, Halaba and other zones within Central Ethiopia. In Gurage Zone alone, approximately two thousand hectares of land have been developed for rosemary cultivation, showcasing the commitment to scaling up production.

Apart from its economic benefits, rosemary cultivation contributes to environmental sustainability. Rosemary cultivation in Ethiopia promotes environmental sustainability by provide habitat for beneficial insects, supporting biodiversity. Its drought tolerance conserves water resources. Rosemary absorbs carbon dioxide, contributing to carbon sequestration and mitigating climate change. These practices align with sustainable agriculture, preserving natural resources and ecosystem integrity.

Its resistance to pests and diseases reduces the need for chemical inputs, promoting organic farming practices. Rosemary plants also have the potential to improve soil quality, prevent erosion, and reducing chemical pesticide use, preventing soil erosion, supporting biodiversity, conserving water resources, and contributing to carbon sequestration and contributing to overall ecosystem health.

Furthermore, to support farmers in this endeavor, he emphasized the provision of training and resources facilitated by agricultural experts. The goal is to enhance production capacity while maintaining high-quality standards, enabling the region to emerge as a leading supplier in the international market.

To ensure the success of this expansion, the region is actively providing training and resource support to farmers. By collaborating with agricultural experts, the aim is to enable local farmers to produce high-quality rosemary products, positioning them at the forefront of the European market.

The drive to increase spice production in the Central Ethiopia Region not only promises economic benefits but also contributes to the overall development of the agricultural sector. By harnessing the country’s natural resources and favorable climate, the region is paving the way for a flourishing spice industry, offering new opportunities for farmers and bolstering the country’s export potential.

Besides, rosemary production in Ethiopia is an emerging agricultural sector that offers significant economic and environmental benefits. With Ethiopia’s favorable climate, diverse topography, and growing global demand for rosemary, the cultivation of this spice holds great promise for Ethiopian farmers. Continued support and investment in rosemary cultivation can contribute to the country’s agricultural growth, employment opportunities, and export earnings, while also promoting sustainable farming practices.




Recommended For You