Flower cultivation has become a million-dollar industry in Ethiopia- but it’s not always a bed of roses. The African nation now exports hundreds of tons of flowers. Some Ethiopians welcome the revenues; others fear exploitation in the sector.
A website, named Flowerweb, recently reported the following about Ethiopia’s flower industry
“After the command economy is over in Ethiopia, the country entertained and introduced a mixed economy where private businesses flourished. Following the emergence and expansion of the private business, the dawn of horticulture farms also came to Ethiopia. Hence, privately owned horticulture farms started to emerge and most of the farms started producing vegetables and fruits for local and international markets.
Following the vegetables and fruit farms, other horticulture varieties came into existence soon. These included production of roses, herbs and cuttings. Particularly, the floriculture has shown a remarkable growth in the last ten years and provided many economic and job opportunities to the country. Currently, Ethiopia is the second largest flower producer in Africa next to Kenya.
This industry, although only a decade old, has shown significant progress in generating high foreign income and creating huge employment opportunity. Presently, horticulture is the fifth foreign revenue earner to Ethiopia next to coffee, pulses and oil seeds, gold and chat. With regard to foreign earning, the industry has generated, for example, 265.7 million USD in 2011/2012 fiscal year. This is exponential growth when we compare it to 28.5 million USD foreign earning in the year 2004/2005. From this revenue exchange, floriculture has contributed to 212.56 million, which is 80% of the total foreign revenue earning. The industry has also created over 180 thousand employment opportunity out of which 85% are women.
When we are talking about such a great leap forward, the horticulture is earning such high revenue in only limited and insignificant area of land, given the immense potential of Ethiopia. The total area of horticulture in Ethiopia is almost about 12,552 hectares of land from which floriculture, 80% foreign revenue earner of the sector, is practiced on only 1,442 hectares of land. This is only 11% of the developed horticulture land in the country.
As farms and started to increase in number, they wanted to have their own association that would help them to tackle problems they face individually.”