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Fontana Flowers to invest US$11mn in Ethiopia

Fontana Flowers plc (Fontana) has announced plans to invest US$11mn to start a horticulture farm in Ethiopia

The India-based horticulture company has leased 100 ha of land near Bahir Dar in Amhara Region. Fontana has already hired 1,300 employees and is currently clearing land for growing roses and to construct a warehouse. The site will be used exclusively for growing different varieties of cut roses. The company will initially start growing the flowers on 65 ha of land and is targeting revenues of about US$96mn a year. Operations at the farm are expected to start within the next few weeks.

Apart from exporting the roses to the traditional auction market in the Netherlands, Fontana also has other direct markets in the Netherlands as well as in the Middle East, which is rare in the industry, explained Daniel Tereffe, horticulture investment project supervision and support officer at the Bahir Dar branch of the Ethiopian Horticulture Development Agency (EHDA).

In addition to Fontana, there are three other India-based companies that have acquired investment licences and land to engage in the horticulture sector in Bahir Dar, added Tereffe. A total of 90 ha of land has been allocated to the companies, with expected export revenues of more than US$195mn, he said.

The flowers will be exported directly from the Bahir Dar airport, which has added cold storerooms in a recent restructuring, said Mekonen Hailu, public relations head of EHDA.