Valentine Day Roses (Photo:

Valentine Day Sales in Addis Ababa (Photo:

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s flower exporters are cashing in on Valentine’s Day, as the industry blooms.

Many of the roses that lovers give each other on Valentine’s Day happen to be grown in Ethiopia. In the last decade, the industry has grown from nothing to one of the dominant players on the international market.

Zelalem Messele, an Ethiopian flower grower and chairman of EHPEA, the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association, said Valentine’s Day is very important for the country’s flower sector.

“It’s one of the holidays the flower industry flourishes. And the production goes up by 30 to 40 percent and so the demand,” said Messele.

About 85 percent of Ethiopia’s flowers are exported to Europe. Flower exports in 2012 were valued at more than $210 million. This year, the amount is expected to be more than double, at $525 million.

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