Famine-Plagued Ethiopia Exported 95 million Flowers During Valentine Season


Logistics companies and services in Ethiopia have overseen the exportation of 95,833,333 million stems of flowers via shipment in the past two weeks, according to Aircargoweek.

All of those flowers were routed through the shores of Nairobi and Addis Ababa to a sizeable number of countries including Netherlands, Belgium, Cote d’Ivoire, Germany, Italy, UAE, the US, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and a host of other buyers.

Ethiopia is a major exporter of flowers with a variety including fedora, Sanaa, Euphoria, kiwito , Carnations, Statice, Alstroemeria and Gypsophila but 80% of those supplies are the heavily-sought roses. This could explain the staggering number, as the global festival of love season, Valentine, coincided with the time of this export.

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There has been a consistent boom in sales during periods surrounding February 14 for years, as in 2008, for instance, a local farmer, Tsegaye Abebe, who employed 400 people to cultivate between 90,000- 120,000 stems for daily exportation admitted to the prosperity associated with the love season.

As extracted from Reuters, Tsegaye revealed:

“The biggest of all is Valentine’s Day,”he said as workers harvested roses in one of his 23 greenhouses, each one containing around 35,000 stems. In the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, Ethiopia exports six planeloads, or more than 2 million stems, daily, he said.

“Red roses are what lovers give so we pay more attention to them at this time of year.”

Only Kenya exports more stems flowers than Africa’s oldest independent country, who boast about 106 flower farms in the private sector which employs over 180,000 locals, a majority of whom are women.

The government of the country are also championing the growth of this sector by offering attractive incentives to foreign investors such as lease free land for up to 30 years, no tax on machines imported, electricity, one borehole for every 50 acres for irrigation as well as feeder roads.

Despite the burgeoning blossom of this sector, it contributes just 1% to the GDP of the nation.

In 2016, 714.4 million stems of flower measuring over 49,000 tonnes were shipped abroad. This translates to an average of almost 2 million every day.


This success found in the tillage of soil appears mind-boggling, as Ethiopia has been a serial hotspot for famines for centuries now, with one major scarcity afflicting the nation every decade since the 1950s.

The country is currently plagued by an “acute food insecurity situation” at severe levels of “crisis (phase 3)/emergency (phase 4)”, resulting in the death of citizens in the Tigray area.

On 10 February 2021, Abera Tola, head of Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), described displaced people “reach[ing] camps in Tigrayan towns as [being] ‘emaciated’” and that “their skin [was] really on their bones, ” as sourced from Wikipedia.

The World Food Programme has however recently agreed with Ehitopian Minister of Peace, Muferiat Kamil, to increase the amount of food distributed to the region.


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