Category: "Horticulture"

Ethiopia's rosy harvests

June 30th, 2008


  • 70,000 Ethiopians employed in the floriculture industry
  • 53% of flower farms in Ethiopia are owned by foreigners
  • 75 farms are engaged in floriculture in Ethiopia
  • 150 Million USD in export estimated for 2008
  • Ethiopia is Africa's second largest flower exporter after Kenya
  • Dutch, Indians and Israelis own most of the flower farm in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's rosy harvests

The shoots of a new export-driven boom in flowers destined for Europe have risen up
from previously state-owned farms, creating jobs and helping to diversify the economy

Jason McLure in Addis Ababa

Inside the packing room at Karuturi Networks’ farm 30km west of Addis Ababa, the scent of an export boom hangs heavy in Ethiopia’s thin, highland air.

Dozens of women stand in front of row upon row of cutting tables, sorting piles of white-and-pink tipped roses into boxes bound for markets in Amsterdam, Saudi Arabia and Tokyo. Outside, hundreds of other workers are busy in greenhouses clipping, watering and spraying the four-year-old farm’s 52 hectares of flowers. Almost overnight, Ethiopia has developed its flower industry into a top-class world competitor.

This year the country’s 75 farms will export upwards of $150m in flowers, up from just
$159,000 six years ago, according to the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer s and Expor ter s
Association, making Ethiopia Africa’s second-largest flower
exporter after Kenya.

location, location...

Ethiopia’s elevation, climate and proximity to European markets have helped. But to succeed, the government has also bent over backwards to attract foreign investors to a country better
known for its periodic famines.
While other African countries are pushing foreign-born farmers out, Ethiopia is encouraging them – fully half of Ethiopia’s new farms are foreign-owned, with Dutch, Indians and Israelis

Read Complete Article from The Africa Report (pdf)

Ethiopia - Flowers are sign of economic change in Ethiopia

February 12th, 2008
A young girl collects flowers in Lalibela, central Ethiopia, September 11, 2006. 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. Reuters

Ethiopia - Flowers are sign of economic change in Ethiopia

Source: Reuters

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.

Related Links

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 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)



Ethiopia - Green shoots of recovery

February 11th, 2008

Ethiopia - Green shoots of recovery

Ethiopia is bucking gloomy global business trends, with a little help from an unlikely economic friend - floriculture

Source: Guardian

Emebet Tesfaye is looking forward to Saint Valentine's Day - but her reasons are more businesslike than romantic.

As manager of Ethiopia Highland Flora's 20-hectare flower farm in Sebeta, in Oromia regional state, Emebet anticipates a 50% boost in export demand as European thoughts turn to love.

That translates into sales of more than 150,000 rose stems a day - and more welcome work for her 420-strong, mostly female labour force.

Ethiopia Highland Flora, a three-year-old, $6.6m (£3.4m) Ethiopian-Dutch joint venture, is literally at the cutting edge of the Ethiopian government's drive to break the cycle of poverty, drought and famine that made the country a byword for misery in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Our aim is to make poverty history, stop begging for food and get back our pride. We are concentrating on development and foreign investment, especially in agriculture," said Teferi Melesse, a senior official.

Vying with established coffee, tea, textile and livestock products, floriculture is the new star turn of an economy that is 80% agricultural. Land under cultivation for flowers is projected to treble by 2009. Exports were worth $12.6m in 2005, compared with $660,000 in 2001.

Related Links

Special Section: Horticulture industry news in Ethiopia

More than 80,000 jobs have been created in or around 77 flower farm companies. Government tax and investment incentives, and low labour costs even by African standards, mean Ethiopia is beginning to edge out traditional suppliers such as Kenya.

Emebet is plainly proud of what has been achieved at Sebeta. Visitors to the farm are conducted through giant, temperature-controlled and irrigated greenhouses scented by tens of thousands of pristine rosebuds.

Varieties include Valentino, Tropical Amazon, Wild Calypso, Viva and Alyssia, all destined for England, Germany and Scandinavia via Dutch importers. Demand is growing in Europe and the Middle East, and more environment-friendly greenhouses are planned.

The government had been supportive, Emebet said, effectively underwriting start-up capital and land-leasing while encouraging a profit-driven, free enterprise approach.

This hybrid collectivist-capitalist mix has become the signature policy of the prime minister, Meles Zenawi, a former leftwing guerrilla who, since winning power in 1991, has gradually embraced free market solutions and western alliances.

As in other commodity markets, first-world middlemen who set the price of cut flowers, plus escalating air transport costs, posed obstacles to long-term success, Emebet said. "I don't think we get a fair price. It's hard to say, but I think the price we receive should be 50% higher."

An average flower farm worker earned about 10 Ethiopian Birr a day, or just over $1. "For them it's a good wage," she said with a wry shrug.

Government officials say Ethiopia has now established a sound model for macroeconomic success, based on Meles' so-called Agricultural Development-led Industrialisation strategy (Adli).

Growth in 2007 was over 10%, and foreign investment, notably from China and India, is rising.

Infrastructure developments, including road building, fibre-optic networks, and hydroelectric projects that will eventually sell energy to Kenya and Sudan, are other points of pride and hope.

UN figures demonstrate how big a mountain there is still to climb. Of Ethiopia's nearly 80 million people, over 80% live on less than $2 a day. Despite ongoing improvements, including a rapid programme of school and health centre expansion, illiteracy and child mortality rates remain high, Aids-HIV is a constant problem, and average life expectancy is 48 years (compared with 79 years in the UK).

Ethiopia remains dependent on foreign assistance and aid, principally from the World Bank, UN agencies, the US, EU and Britain (which will donate £130m bilaterally in 2007-8). But optimism about the future, once rarer than a raindrop in the Ogaden, is growing.

The leading economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs said during a visit to Addis last month that there was no reason why, in time, Ethiopia could not overcome all these obstacles. He predicted double-digit growth could be sustained for decades to come - but he also called on western governments and companies to do more to honour their poverty-reduction and investment pledges.

Sachs' assessment is in line with UN studies showing sub-Saharan African countries bucking global business cycles, thanks to economic diversification and high demand for commodities and natural resources.

Ethiopia typifies this trend. According to the IMF, its growth rates now surpass all other sub-Saharan non-oil- producing countries. It hopes to join the World Trade Organisation soon.

Down on the farm, such dry analyses come to life. Emebet and colleagues look a little weary, but they radiate determined confidence. And their approach, amid the brown and yellow hills of Oromia, is easy for even non-economists to follow: roll up your sleeves - and let a thousand flowers bloom.


Ethiopia - Indian investor launches 9.8 mln Birr flower production project

February 10th, 2008

Ethiopia - Indian investor launches 9.8 mln Birr flower production project

Source: ENA

North Shoa Zone Investment Office announced that a foreign investor has begun producing cut flower with over 9.8 million Birr capital in Ethiopia.

Investment expert with the office, Getu Mengistu told ENA that an Indian investor has been licensed to be engaged in flower production project, which is the first in the State.

The Indian investor launched the project on 39,000 hectares of land in an area the office reserved for investment.

The flower production project creates 15 permanent and 150 casual jobs.

Some 133 investors licensed with over 647 million Birr capital are currently working in the zone, the expert said.



Ethiopia - Second largest flower farm budding

February 4th, 2008

Ethiopia - Second largest flower farm budding

By Muluken Yewondwossen

Source: Capital

The signing agreement for the second largest flower and horticulture investment project in Ethiopia, valued at 1.5 billion ETB, was held on Monday January 28, 2008 between Oromia Investment Office and Shadi plc.

According to Legesse Geleta, a senior expert in Oromia Investment Commission, this kind of investment is the first near Ambo town of West Shoa Zone. He added that the project is the second largest flower investment in the country next to the south east Oromia based Share Ethiopia, a Dutch investment near Zeway town.

Shadi plc is a Dutch and Indian joint venture with a capital of 1.5 bln ETB and aims to produce flowers on four hundred and ten hectares. According to Legesse the project will create job opportunities for more than six thousand employees.

Alemu Semae, the Commissioner of Oromia Investment Commission, said at the signing ceremony that this investment encourages other investors in the area. He mentioned that horticultural investment was weak in the area and that this could be a major step in changing that trend.

The President of the Ethiopian Horticulture and Flower Association (EHFA), Tsegaye Abebe, told Capital that around seventy two companies in the country exported flowers in 2007 and that the number is fast approaching eighty. He also mentioned that 125 mln USD was earned from the export. “We have a plan to double exports this year,” Tsegaye added.

In a related development, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi held discussions with flower exporters at his office on January 28, 2008. Meles said that the government would scale up on-going efforts to search for more international markets. The government would attach due attention to expand the country’s flower export market to Russia, Japan and Far Eastern countries in addition to the Netherlands and Germany.

Meles assured participants that the government is ready to provide all the necessary incentives for those investors who would want to be engaged in the sector. He also affirmed the government’s commitment to solve any land and finance related problems in the sector. He said it would also provide due attention to the provision of short and long term trainings with a view to alleviating the shortage of professionals. In addition to the floriculture sector, Meles went on to say, the government would provide attention to the fruit and vegetable sectors.