Foreign Flower growers in Ethiopia are targeted and vandalized by unhappy locals?
Flowersandcents.com spoke with our trusted floral sources in Ethiopia and the story reported by Rueters today is accurate regarding the damages at multiple farms:
ADDIS ABABA, Sept 2 (Reuters) – “At least seven foreign-owned flower farms in Ethiopia’s Amhara region have been burnt to the ground or partially damaged in political violence afflicting the country over the past two months, producers said on Friday”.
The largest and most visible farm attacked was Esmeralda farms owned by the late Peter Ullrich. According to the company’s website the farm was burnt to the ground on Monday August 29, 2016.
“By a politic demonstration, the entire company of Esmeralda Farms in Ethiopia is set on fire.”
“I estimates that 10 million was spent on investment went up in smoke last Monday.”
What seems uncertain is exactly why these farms were singled out. The most obvious clue is that these farms were all foreign owned or controlled. Yet a farm assumed to be owned by an endowment affiliated to the government in the same area was also partially affected. F&C was told that Esmeralda sustained the most damage mainly because it was the most complete operation having been in production for over two years. The other farms affected were smaller and still being developed and not damaged nearly as much. In a few cases the farms water supplies were compromised but in all cases no one was injured.
This clearly indicates that the intent of those responsible was to make a statement not to hurt anyone. Planning their attack after the farms had closed for the day. That statement likely goes back to Tribal land issues and other local political struggles that are not unique to Africa or easy to sort out. An Article published in the Mail & Guardian African publication speaks of the growing conflict they refer to as “Ethiopia’s volcano”.
This is a case of civil unrest or disobedience F&C was told. It appears that the Amhara and other tribes have been trying to get the Ethiopian governments attention for a long time so setting ablaze some foreign investments gets the whole world to notice.
The Flower industry in Ethiopia employees around 100,000 workers over some 1500 to 2500 hectares and is important to the Ethiopia government. Meaning that they will likely support the farmers in their efforts to rebuild or repair the farms.
Despite a time when any global violence is suspected of organized Terrorism there appears to be none of that here. The employment opportunities offered by flower farms are a welcome sight in these countries with growing populations. This area which is located around 600k from the Capital Addis Ababa, is newly developed and there is little development or infrastructure around except flower farms, which no doubt chose the land due to its altitude and access to water.
This is not the first or last time that flower farms will have issues with local politics and tribal disputes. Colombia, Ecuador,Peru,Mexico, Kenya, and Israel have all had issues over the years. With that said, the flower business is resilient and farmers will always find a way to get their bounty out of their gardens and into your life.