Anxiety grips Ethiopian flower farms after arson attacks

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The fast growing horticulture industry in Ethiopia has been scarred by attacks on government supported farms that has left at least ten farms in ashes and foreign investors scratching their heads.

The most affected is the $10- million Esmeralda Farms in Bahir Dar, a city North of the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa that was set on fire by demonstrators during an anti-government political demonstration last Month. The 17 ha green houses farm is an Ecuadorian floral company headquartered in Miami, Florida USA. It has farms in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.

According to information on the company’s website, the warehouse and cold storage rooms that were were built on projected growth the company wanted to make in the coming period in Ethiopia. “The tractors, trucks, containers, packaging hall all are burned”, Esmeralda Farms posts on their website. . All irrigation pumps are damaged leading to crops drying. The film (plastic) greenhouses have also suffered major damages. Everything is gone. Ten million investments and a lot of time and effort have gone up in smoke within a day, the company laments adding only one person was wounded.

The farm site says the attackers targeted establishments that have had help from the government, one of the reasons attributed to the rapid growth of Ethiopia’s nascent flower sector, one of the fastest growing in the world.

“Now foreign investors are screwed that have had help from the government in setting up their business. A few weeks ago, local businesses were affected that have a link with the government. There were soldiers on our farm when the rebels came; they ran away because the group was too large. Everything then was set on fire. I understand now 10 companies”

Esmeralda has 150 hectares of land in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian farm was the 30-40 % of the company’s turnover in Aalsmeer .
Reported by Richard Sultan

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