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Ethiopia - Flowers are sign of economic change in Ethiopia
By Barry Malone
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Pictures of emaciated children dying in their mothers' arms during Ethiopia's famine in 1985 cemented the country's image as a barren land where nothing grows.
But just 30 minutes south of the capital, Addis Ababa, green hills and lush valleys abound, perfect for cultivating the country's fastest growing export -- flowers.
Tsegaye Abebe opened his farm, ET Highland Flora, three years ago. Now, he employs 400 people and exports 90,000 to 120,000 stems every day. At this time of year, he is busy.
"The biggest of all is Valentine's Day," he said as workers harvested roses in one of his 23 greenhouses, each one containing around 35,000 stems. In the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, Ethiopia exports six planeloads, or more than 2 million stems, daily, he said.
"Red roses are what lovers give so we pay more attention to them at this time of year."
While flowers account for only 1 percent of Ethiopia's GDP, they are one of the most visible signs of a fast-growing economy that is becoming less reliant on its traditional coffee exports.
Green shoots of recovery (Guardian)
Ethiopia is bucking gloomy global business trends, with a little help from an unlikely economic friend - floriculture
Special Section: Horticulture Find related news about the flower sector from nazret.com archives
Economic growth was 10 percent last year, the fastest of any non-oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Foreign investment, especially from China and India, is on the rise. There is a construction boom in Addis Ababa and many of the larger towns. And returnees from the United States are investing in hotels, bars, shops and restaurants.
Ethiopia exports more than 80 million stems a month to 40 countries. Seventy percent go to the Netherlands, from where they are sent around the world. It also exports to Germany, Britain, Russia and, in smaller amounts, to the United States and the Middle East.
Five years ago, Ethiopia made just $159,000 from exports of cut flowers, cuttings and summer flowers. Last year that had grown to $63.5 million and this year it is expected to hit $166 million, said Adhanom Negasi, an adviser to the Minister of Trade. "Within two years I believe we'll be the leading exporter in Africa, if not the world," he said.
Neighboring Kenya, with 1,700 hectares under cultivation compared with Ethiopia's 1,000 hectares, has been Africa's leading flower exporter for more than 30 years. The violence raging there since its disputed election in December has given a 5 percent spike to Ethiopia's business, Tsegaye said.
"But we really don't want the problem to continue," he said. "In business when you get an advantage it should be fair and should come from the strength of your product."
By next year, flowers could account for 10 percent of Ethiopia's exports. Coffee, its traditional cash crop, makes up nearly 40 percent.
"I think flowers will catch up to coffee within five years," says Tsegaye who is president of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association. "We expect to generate $600 to $700 million by 2013/2014. Both crops can be successful together."
The government offers incentives to both foreign and Ethiopian investors, including a five-year tax holiday, duty-free import of capital goods and a lease price of just $18 a hectare per year for land. The government also offers loans of up to 70 percent of start-up costs.
In ET Highland's packing house, Ethiopian pop music booms from speakers above the factory floor as women strip leaves and thorns from stems, packing them carefully into bunches of 10 and boxing them up for trucks bound for the airport.
Nationally, the industry employs over 50,000 people, 80 percent of them women. "There are so many women because a flower is a very fragile product and it needs very careful handling," Adhanom said by way of explanation.
Despite complaints from some charities that the workers are underpaid, their pay of around $1 a day is a living wage in a country where more than 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Unemployment in urban areas is almost 21 percent.
Many Ethiopians not directly involved with flowers are also benefiting.
In Sebeta, the town that surrounds Tsegaye's farm, the nearby greenhouses have brought a mini boom of workers and visitors who come to shop and eat. A visit by a foreigner to a local cafe elicits a gift of a red rose from the waiter. "Have you visited the farms?" he asks.
In Addis Ababa, which coincidentally means "New Flower" in the Amharic language, flower shops are springing up and some Ethiopians are even starting to celebrate Valentine's Day, something they didn't do just a few years ago.
Hareg Tameru, a painter, opened Flower Boutique two months ago after seeing queues forming to buy Valentine's roses last year. "I was surprised," she says. "This business is growing really fast."
Surrounded by oversized posters of rose varieties, Adhanom shows off spreadsheets highlighting the economic success of the flower industry.
"It's a miracle." He throws out his hands and starts to laugh. "This crop is a miracle."
(Reporting by Barry Malone; Editing by Eddie Evans)
“Five years ago, Ethiopia made just $159,000 from exports of cut flowers, cuttings and summer flowers. Last year that had grown to $63.5 million and this year it is expected to hit $166 million….Nationally, the industry employs over 50,000 people, 80 percent of them women.”
very good, go forward! Ethiopia will be the world best producer of flower.
The payment for individual worker should be improved accourdingly!
BRING IT ON ALL THE GOOD NEWS. I AM REALLY REALY HAPPY TO HEAR THIS HAPPENING IN ETHIOPIA. GOD BLESS ETHIOPIA AND HER CHILDREN. LET’S GO FORWARD HAND IN HAND. DIVISION IS A CANSER THAT WILL LET US DOW FALL. LET’S DO ANY THING WE CAN TO HELP OUR COUNTRY TO GO UP NOT DOWN. LET’S IGNOR VOICES OF THE HATERS. GO ETHIOPIA GO!!!!!!
This is in-deed good news , go ETHIOPIA
I love any good news about my country!, Go Ethiopia we’ll make you one of the best country in the whole World. We just have to work together without accusing each other!
God Bless Ethiopia!
God bless our greatest leader, Meles Zenawi!!
if ethiopia becomes middle income nation in 15 years, our huge population will make us the biggest economy in africa by GDP!! even bigger than egypt and south africa!!
this is the way to go people. Great job Meles Zenawi!!!
this is another difference between meles and mengistu.
mengistu piles up weapons to fight Egypt for NILE RIVER WARS when almost 1 million ethiopians die in famine at the same time.
in contrast, Meles zenawi builds our economy and makes it easy to defend our country from invaders by keeping our economy developing at the same time.
I am the proudest to be Ethiopian than ever before!!!!
Am working on a paper about the competitive advantage of Ethiopian cut flower industry over its stiff competitor, Kenya. What stunned me most is the inconsistency of the data that i referred about Ethiopia. An earlier article which was posted a few days ago,here, put the estimated export for 2008, nearly 100 million USD, while this one forecasted an inflated 166 million USD. Cardes that rnt related to the industry are offering their plain guess about the future of the industry.
Last time it was someone from the ministry of agriculture, this time it is from the ministry of trade, next time it could be the turn for the ministry of health. Seriously this is confusing for some one who needs a realistic data, apart from a mere opinion. I am in a big confound right now as to which figure i have to use for my regression.
Surprisingly the data about Kenya’s flower industry are coherent, and only those with close link to the industry make public opinion. I got everything that i needed from KENYA’S FLOWER EXPORTER ASSOCIATION website.
EPRDF is the bridge on which we leave the past history of poverty and join our future history of wealth.
But I hope the new generation politicians like Lidetu Ayalew and Birtukan Mideksa will step up and gear up our journey to Greatness.
This economic growth we are witnessing came through a lot of sacrifice. It takes new thnkers driven by hope to even accelerate it.
thank you man. I am proud to see like many of you the progress and success in Ethiopia
Certainly, the haters are burning when the read all the great economic booms… Thanks to all ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia that are making it happen.
This is a positive news but we can do more if there is freedom and democaracy in our country.
Let’s take heart.
Under eprdf ethiopia will claim her glorious time during the axum empire with trade and world affairs.Ethiopia is beautiful morethan her flowers under the right leadership and positive ethiopians that put the country first despite any political issues.Keep the shabians banda from ethiopian affair just like eprdf had done then ethiopia will grow by the day.Eprdf is the way!
hey MR. SHAEBYA WHY DO YOU CARE ABOUT ETHIOPIA WHEATHER IT IS CONFUSING OR NOT CONFUSING. ALSO WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT KENYA, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE GREAT ETHIOPIA, SO YOU HAVE DATA FROM KENYAS AGRICULTURE OR WHAT EVER, WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO ETHIOPIA. GO AND CONFUSE OYUR FELLOW ERITREANS ABOUT YOUR SINGA"POOR” ERITREA. “DEDEB”
Ethiopia Started to make a Wave ,Get on board People .The Economy is booming in every part of the Country. Long live ETHIOPIA
just imagine, if a bit of energy source such as oil is discovered in that country, ethiopia can easily be as high as it’s mountains,
ethioian high lands + ethiopian high life, will just be ETHIOPIA. Watch out Singapore!
Thanks to the good policy of EPRDF,the counrty is now changing drastically for everything.
Is flowers are sign of economic change
in Ethiopia? yes they are indeed. Yes we can change our economy by hard working and investing in our beautiful nation.
Change we can believe in yes we can too.
Welcome brother AGAM. You have been gone for a while but don’t worry the front line was covered by the reserved divisions.
The crying forces are there where you left them at. In fact some of them are even beating very badly there is no way to get up and cry more any longer.
Dawit,Z-Mike,Alem and Tewodrow Salsawi and other pour Ethiopians out there thank you for your being front runner for Ethiopia. As long as you guys around, our nation is certainly safety is guaranteed.
Go Obama. Thank you…..Yeha
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