Agriculture and food: the Netherlands and Ethiopia

The Netherlands is your partner in agriculture and food.

The agriculture sector comprises all economic activity relating to food, from production to marketing and distribution.

Exporting nation

The Netherlands is the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, after the United States. It is known for its flowers, cheese, tomatoes, vegetables and beer.

The Dutch horticulture sector has an extensive logistics network. Vegetables harvested in the Netherlands can be sold in New York the very same day.


The Dutch food sector has developed smart storage and packaging technologies that keep food fresh longer.

The Netherlands wants to reduce the use of antibiotics in food production in order to combat antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals.

The Netherlands shares its expertise in food production with developing countries. It is committed to a free market with safe, sustainably produced food.


Research and innovation are vital to Dutch agriculture and horticulture. Dutch agri-food companies and knowledge institutions do innovative work in many areas, including sustainability and nutrition.

Agri-food: the Netherlands and your country or region

Food Security Program

As a result of the Ethiopian government’s ambitious socio-economic development program, agricultural growth and the success of existing Food Security programs, the amount of food-relief beneficiaries in Ethiopia has decreased considerably in recent years. However, 2.7 million Ethiopians still rely on food assistance for their survival, while the lives of another 25 million are considered highly vulnerable to malnutrition. Given the country’s unstable environmental and climatological conditions, it is expected that Food Security will remain a major issue in the coming decades in Ethiopia. Food security  is therefore chosen as one of the priorities of the Dutch Embassy’s development cooperation program. In the long run, when Ethiopia’s development progresses, a gradual shift (both in activities and resources) is foreseen, from food security to agricultural growth; from agricultural growth to agribusiness and generlly from aid to  trade. See also our Food Security website and follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

The current Embassy’s Food Security program entails:

1) Activities to reduce household vulnerability in food insecure areas

The Embassy supports the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). This multi-donor program provides, during a part of the year, food and cash support to more than eight million people. It transfers foord or cash to vulnerable, food insecure households. In return, those households that have able-bodied members are involved in public works activities (like reforestation and soil and water conservation) that contribute to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. In the meantime, these households are assisted in  asset building and increased market access so that with time they no longer have to depend on the support from the programme.

2) Activities to increase agricultural productivity and market access in surplus producing areas

The Embassy provides support to the Agricultural Growth Program (AGP). This Ethiopian Government multi-donor supported program aims at improving the capacity of public service providers (especially the extension system) and farmers’ organizations to scale up best practices in production and processing, with special attention for women and youth. In addition, support is provided to the construction, rehabilitation and management of small-scale rural infrastructure (irrigation and roads). A third component focuses on vlaue chain development and improving farmers’s access to markets. In order to enhance  agricultural development and provide AGP eith necessary know-how, the Embassy also supports a number of , aligned projects: (1) to strengthen the capacity for evidence-based up-scaling of best-fit practices (CASCAPE), part of the umbrella BENEFIT programme; and (2) to increase the capacity for the design and management of small-scale and micro-irrigation works (Small Scale Irrigation Project). Finally, the Embassy supports the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) which is tasked to remove systemic bottlenecks for agricultural growth.

3) Activities to increase the competitiveness of specific agribusiness subsectors

In several sectors such as dairy, horticulture, sesame, honey  and seeds a value chain approach is applied with attention for productivity and quality improvement, creating more added value and export growth. In addition, the capacity of the agribusiness sector are strengthened as well as the regulatory and policy environment. To promote agri-business with the involvment of Dutch enterprises  public private partnerships are established in various sectors.  The Ethiopian-Netherlands Trade Facility for Agribusiness, also part of the BENEFIT programme, complements the strategy to support new sector-wide private sector driven initiatives, Ethiopian entrepreneurship and hands-on assistance to Dutch companies.