Human Flower Project

Kenya’s Flower Farms Head North

Growers find Ethiopia’s climate—physical and political—better for the flower business.


An AP story, now picked up in Canadian papers, reports that Kenya’s flower farmers are moving to Ethiopia, due to “insecurity, high freight charges, poor infrastructure and soaring petrol costs.”

Cut flowers are Kenya’s biggest ag export. Its farms now supply 25% of the European market. A spokesperson for the Kenya Flower Council says that Ethiopia has granted tax waivers to flower farms and—hard to believe—labor costs are cheaper to the north.

“The Ethiopian Horticultural Producers and Exporters Association expects the number of growers to increase fivefold in the next 12 months.” A government subsidy has made it possible for banks there to loan money to farmers with no collateral. Land is cheap and sunshine plentiful.

So long as the buying public bases its purchases on price, the cut flower industry will remain in limbo. That’s not to say “uncertainty” but “how low can you go?”

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