Ethiopia rose farms in export overdrive for Valentine’s Day

Ethiopian Flower exportIt is seven in the morning and 300 workers are arriving at the Gallica Rose Farm a vast complex on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Each year, the farm’s eight hectares of greenhouses produce around five million roses to be exported around the world.

But the run up to St Valentine’s Day is a particularly busy time of the year. Today alone, more than 20,000 flowers will be harvested.

“Here the cycle is about 80 days,” explains farm manager Gizachew Wondemu. “If you plant the roses 80 days ago, you get them now. So we try to prepare some of the varieties to come, mainly the red ones. We’re always producing less than the demand.”

Ethiopia is mainly known for its coffee. But the country’s agricultural sector is growing and, over the last 12 years and boosted by investment from the Ethiopian government, the niche market of flower production has boomed in particular.

Having started from scratch, Ethiopia exported two billion tons of flowers in 2013, with a value of 212 million US dollars.

That figure makes it the world’s fourth largest flower producer and second in Africa behind Kenya. Read more at



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