ETHIOPIA – Ethiopia, renowned for its vibrant floral exports is currently facing a direct challenge in its horticultural sector amid mounting unrest in the Amhara region, home to numerous flower farms.
The country has, for years, thrived on its flourishing floral trade, garnering over USD 650 million in revenue in 2022.
Primarily exporting fresh-cut roses, especially during occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day in Western nations, Ethiopia shipped 2.7 million kilograms of flowers to Europe solely for Valentine’s Day last year.
However, the ongoing conflict in the Amhara region poses a substantial threat to the peak export season, spanning from December to June, jeopardizing the vital revenue source derived from flower exports.
The escalation of violence since August, with federal troops clashing against local militias, has caused significant disruptions in the region.
The turmoil has not only resulted in fatalities and mass displacements but has also severely impacted supply chains, transport networks, and security, leading to the suspension or reduction of activities in many flower farms.
Amid this turmoil, the Amhara regional government reported substantial losses of up to USD 45 million, primarily attributed to diminished flower exports and substantial layoffs since the conflict’s onset.
According to a report by Ventures Africa, the flower industry holds a pivotal position in Ethiopia’s economy and its Growth and Transformation Plan aims to elevate the country to a middle-income status by 2025.
“Attracting foreign investors and industries, particularly European flower companies, is central to this plan, facilitated by incentives like duty-free access, loans, and subsidized utilities,” reads the report.
These measures aim to generate employment opportunities and alleviate poverty, particularly in a nation where agriculture constitutes a significant livelihood for the populace.
However, Ethiopia’s flower export sector faces its own set of challenges, including foreign currency shortages, political instability, and human rights concerns.
Similar issues led to the exodus of prominent foreign investors in other sectors in recent years, raising fears of a potential exodus from the flower industry, especially if the conflict in the Amhara region persists or intensifies.
Despite these challenges, the Ethiopian flower industry has showcased significant growth, emerging as Africa’s second-largest flower exporter.
With more than 3,491.04 hectares allocated to floriculture, this sector currently generates around 80% of Ethiopia’s earnings from horticulture, leveraging its diverse agroecology and favorable climatic conditions to produce premium-quality flowers across various altitudes.
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