Fontana Flowers Plc, the largest Indian based horticulture company in neighboring Kenya will begin operation of its horticulture farm in Ethiopia in the next few weeks at the cost of 11 million dollars.

The company has leased a 100ha land at Wenjeta and Wegelta kebeles 20Km from Bahir Dar in the Amhara Regional State. Currently Fontana, which has hired 1,300 employees, is clearing land for growing roses and for warehouse construction. The company will exclusively grow different cut rose varieties. It will first start growing on 65ha, with a target revenue of 95.9 million dollars a year.

The flowers will be exported directly from the Bahir Dar airport, which, in its recent restructuring, has added cold storerooms, said Mekonen Hailu, public relations head of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency (EHDA).

Despite the addition of these facilities and the suitable ecology and water resource of the city for horticulture, there was imbalance in the investment flow with most horticulture companies concentrating in the Oromia Regional State due to proximity to Bole International Airport, in a bit to minimize transportation costs, Mekonnen added, concluding that the direct cargo flight will attract more investment to the regional state.

The company will export to the traditional auction market in the Netherlands, but it also has other direct markets in the Middle East and the Netherlands, which is rare in the industry, explained Daniel Tereffe, Horticulture Investment Project Supervision and Support officer at Bahir Dar branch of the Agency.

Four horticulture companies are already in operation in Bahir Dar. In addition to Fontana, there are three other India-based companies that have acquired investment licenses and land to engage in the horticulture sector. A total of 90ha of land is allocated to the companies with expected export revenue of 4.1 billon Br, Daniel said.

The horticulture export market is one of the largest foreign exchange earners in the country. In the fiscal year 2013/2014 around 245.4 million dollars has been obtained from the export of 199 million flower stems. This was an increase from the 212 million dollar export earnings, obtained in the fiscal year of 2011/2012. The largest flower export market destination is the Netherlands which accounts for an 83.7pc share in the quantity of exported flowers and a 83.4pc share in value of the export earnings. Following the Netherlands, are Germany and Saudi Arabia accounting for a 4.3 pc and 2.5 share of the export earnings, respectively. With the number of companies engaged in the flower exports currently reaching 90, more than 1,442ha of lands are under flower cultivation countrywide. The horticulture sector in general has developed above 12,552ha of lands, according to data obtained from EHDA

Source: Fortune