”Growing roses is pure business”22 October 2018
Zelalem Messele (47) has been running a 16 hectare rose nursery in Bishoftu (Ethiopia) since 2007. After having worked as a banker in England for a while, in 2007 he came to Ethiopia, the country of his family, to start a flower nursery. He chose roses because most of the production takes place within this segment. Zelalem still stands by his choice. “It’s a good business. And it’s a wonderful job,” he says with a smile.
To Zelalem Messele, growing roses is real business. He runs a nursery with 420 Ethiopians, creating plenty of employment. He does not really have green fingers. "My drive lies more in managing employees and in organization." He started the rose nursery after following a course in horticulture. The company has now grown to a size of 16 hectares. He wants to start a second company in Northern Ethiopia in autumn, which will give him a total of 55 hectares of roses. "The land has already been purchased and the plans have been made. We are currently waiting for approval. My ambition is to expand our company step by step."
The Ethiopian grower attaches great importance to sustainability. "Taking good care of your staff is truly important. That goes for both men and women; everybody deserves good treatment and equal pay. We also want to handle the rose cultivation and water management properly. The market demands it of us; it is an obligation. You can't survive without sustainable operations."
Flower revolution in Ethiopia
Ethiopia is experiencing a flower revolution. The amount of nurseries has increased substantially over the past years. There were three flower companies in 2003. Now there are about 100, but they are not all viable as export companies. There are several very large, prominent Dutch companies in Ziway and there is a hub of smaller but successful Ethiopian companies (including Zelalem's) in Bishoftu.
Economic growth in Ethiopia has been fluctuating at around 8% per year in recent years. The horticulture industry is an important contributor to this growth. However, political unrest has slowed down the growth. In 2016, growth figures were considerably lower than in 2015. The government is investing in infrastructure in order to stimulate export. Airports and railway lines have been constructed. The electricity supply has also improved considerably. In June 2017, a new terminal was opened at the airport in order to facilitate transport from Ethiopia to the flower auction Royal FloraHolland Aalsmeer.
Who is Zelalem Messele?
Zelalem Messele is 47 years old
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