An ambitious programme to farm apples in Ethiopia has been set back by diseases and pests.
The worst affected was the Tigray region, where farmers were earning substantial income from apple production.
According to the Tigray Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), the spread of diseases was largely to lack of knowledge and skills among farmers. Thousands of apple trees have been destroyed by farmers who associate the apple disease with cochineal, a cactus pest.
Apple production in the arid nation started in 1998, and has expanded significantly over the last decades.
To address the skill and knowledge gap, TARI, in collaboration with Africa Rising and Mekelle University, is organising training in the affected areas, which includes the control of apple diseases and pests.
It is estimated that recouping the losses will give the model apple farmers more than 100 times the average national per capita income in Ethiopia given the high market demand.