Another Indian horticulture farm to sprout in Ethiopia this year

By Groum Abate, IANS,

Addis Ababa : A second Indian company, Esimo Flower & Agro Industries Plc, is investing $100 million in Ethiopia to produce flowers, fruits, and vegetables for the European, Russian and Middle Eastern markets.

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The company has acquired a 71-hectare farm in Debre Brehan, northeast of capital Addis Ababa. It will start planting flowers in July and has constructed a pack house, where harvested flowers are to be processed for export in 2012, according to Sanjaye Bangali, owner and general manager of Esimo.

Debre Berhan Mayor Getaneh Zeke also confirmed this. Esimo is set to become the second flower farm in Debre Brehan after ASK Flowers and Greens Plc, run by another Indian, Shahab Khan.

Producing flowers is a high-risk but high-profit business and Bengali thinks his company has a good opportunity to succeed within a few years.

“We are planning to buy a seedling for 0.52 dollars and sell the flowers with prices ranging between 0.71 dollars and 1.1 dollars, depending on the stem of the plant,” he said.

Bangali foresees growing roses that are bred locally and are similar to Ecuadorian and Colombian breeds after setting up its drip irrigation system.

Ethiopia has a stable year-round temperature and strong sun, and the region is acknowledged as one of the best growing areas, according to an expert from the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers & Exporters Association (EHPEA).

The EHPEA earned $178.3 million dollars in 2010/11, making flowers the third-largest export earner in the economy following coffee and khat.

The firm plans to grow 75,000 rose plants on one hectare, which would enable a harvest of 80,000 to 90,000 stems in the first phase of production, covering 15 hectares. In the second phase, the plan is to increase its harvest to 90,000 or 100,000, according to Bangali.

(Groum Abate can be reached at [email protected])