New Draft Directive to Fertilise Ethiopia's Flower Industry

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Addis Ababa, 1 April 2014 (WIC) - The Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency (EHDA) is in the process of drafting a new directive. This is designed to enable individual exporters, including those with no involvement in flower growing, to export horticulture products they have collected from various growers.

The draft - called 'Consolidation Directive Proposal' - will be referred to the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) after a week's time and eventually to the Council of Ministers (CoM) for approval, Fortune learnt.

The Consolidation Proposal was submitted earlier, to the National Export Council, at the end of January 2014. The Council then ordered the Agency to conduct research on consolidation and submit it to the CoM by the end of February.

"The research will be finalised within a week," Wondweson Taddesse, Plan & Strategic Management director at the Agency, told Fortune. "The research team is in Kenya for a week-long visit, as part of the research."

One of the major objectives of the visit is to take lessons and experience from consolidation in the Kenyan flower industry, Wondwosen said.

The consolidation directive was first initiated by the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers & Exporters Association (EHPEA) and the Agency two years ago. At the time, a group of American flower buyers came to Ethiopia, but could not source growers capable of supplying flowers in as large quantity as they required.

"The capacity of flower growers must be improved, so that they can become competitive in the international market," Wondwosen said. "The biggest hindrance for Ethiopian growers in trying to become competitive is that they are growing on small plots of land."

The consolidation directive is designed to give flower growers the opportunity to supply larger quantities of flowers to a wider market in Europe and the rest of the world, according to Wondwosen.

The directive is also meant to increase the quality of flowers by creating better packaging systems and the a greater variety of flowers to be included in a single market.

For Tsegaye Abebe, the owner of ET Highland, the directive will help growers to get additional market opportunities in Europe and the rest of the world. He, however, cautions that growers have to know the destination of their flowers.

Previously, few capable growers practiced consolidation, but the experience was far from widespread, says Wondwosen.

"With the involvement of exporters, who are not necessarily growers, now that a directive is going to be issued, change in the industry is expected," Wondwosen said.

Based on the experiences of the other countries, the directive will give the task of the consolidation to market agents. The latter will also be consulting growers to grow new kinds of flowers.

According to the report of the Ministry of Trade (MoT), Ethiopia exported nearly 1.76 billion stems of flowers in 2011/12 and 2.25 billion stems in 2012/13. Despite the growth in exports, however, its revenue was down from 197 million dollars to 187 million dollars. (Addis Fortune)