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Bad weather and a higher than ever demand for Ethiopian flowers on the international market have created a scarcity of supply for local florists.
With Valentine’s Day last Friday Addis Ababa business owners were all a-flutter to take advantage of the special holiday which has been rising in popularity due to the advent of globalization.
Excitement was high among younger people with many going shopping for postcards, candy and flowers. Boutiques adorned their windows with red fabric and balloons enticing shoppers to partake in the holiday.
“I am buying a red scarf this year,” says Melat Amlaku who claims to be a big fan of the holiday. “Last year I bought a shirt, the year before that I bought shoes. I will keep buying something red every year.”
Big hotels also jumped on the bandwagon by preparing special celebratory nights with unique dishes and other amenities. Among them were Jupiter International Hotel and Radisson Blu. The Radisson went so far as to prepare a special package deal for lovers worth 750 birr with a valentine themed buffet dinner and live music, according to Dimitri Brun, food and Beverage manager at the hotel.
The only thing that is missing is the flowers. According to Zelalem Mesele, executive director of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association (EHPEA), the cold weather which hit flower farms in the last two months has driven up the price.
“There is a scarcity of supply,” said Zelalem. “We are exporting every flower we produce. Previously, we only sent first grade products and sold the ones that didn’t make the cut. Now the second grade products have gotten a foreign price tag.”
Zelalem revealed that February, March and May are the peak months of the industry while demand plummets during July and August. The biggest importers of Ethiopian flowers are Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom, France and Russia.
Ethiopia earned USD 265 million in the 2011/12 fiscal year from the horticulture sector. In the recent fiscal year the government planned to earn more than USD 525 million.