A lot has been said about how Ethiopia is attracting investment from abroad, and the flower sector is right in middle of it all. Compared to its neighbor Kenya, Ethiopia’s geographical location favors this sector in terms of proximity to the European and Middle Eastern markets, experts proclaim. And this is one of the reasons for attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Ethiopia during the past couple of years.
The demand for this luxury product has also been appreciating in the international market in recent years. At the end of 2008, international floral transaction and related products reached USD 40 billion. The Netherlands is the leading exporter, accounting for some 54 percent of world trade in flowers. Floriculture is one of the booming sectors in Ethiopia. It was only in 1997 that the first private floriculture companies in Ethiopia, Meskel Flower and Ethio-Flora, started activities on a few hectares of land. Currently, over 84 companies grow flower in Ethiopia, 70 of which are either foreign-owned or joint ventures between Ethiopia and a foreigner.
Ethiopia’s vast land, favorable climate and water resources combine to make it an incredible hub for investment, say experts. Located in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is the gateway to the Middle East and Europe. This geographical proximity provides the major exporters in the world unparalleled access to the Ethiopian floricultural market.
Currently being produced in Ethiopia is a number of flower types, including roses, gypsophilia, hypericum, limonium, carnations and chrysanthemum. Flora Culture International–a leading investor in Ethiopia’s floriculture sector–has described parts of the country south of Addis Ababa “as having a better potential than the Naivasha area in Kenya, where well over 50 percent of Kenya’s flowers are grown.”
Currently, many Dutch-owned flower farms operate in Ethiopia, and more than 70 percent of Ethiopia’s floriculture produce goes to the Dutch market. In addition, there is a very close relationship between the two nations in the floriculture sector, which has led to the Ethio-Netherlands Horticulture Partnership Agreement.
The Former Dutch Ambassador to Ethiopia, Alphons Hennekens has been credited for these close ties between the two nations and their respective flower sectors. The ambassador is also hailed for his role in increasing the sector’s visibility in the world.