Paul Holla of Holla Roses comments on unrest:

Ethiopian flower farms under constant threat

There is still a lot of unrest in Ethiopia. Last Sunday, dozens of people were killed during a protest at a religious festival in the Oromia region. Flower growers are suffering from the unrest as well. "The farm is heavily guarded and the trucks go to the airport in convoy," says Paul Holla, the Dutch owner of Ethiopian rose farm Holla Roses, located in Ziway.

Extra protection
The farms in Ethiopia are under constant threat and are therefore heavily guarded. Holla Roses is too. "All over the farm, police and undercover agents are present," says Paul. And fortunately, the production continues as the employees are still coming to the farm to work. "There is not that much unrest in Ziway, but the people in the village are scared too. The farm is being protected, so they feel safer over there."

Transportation problems
As production continues, the flowers need to be transported to the airport, which brings them to the next problem. Trucks are not safe anywhere. So, the five flower farms in the Oromia region decided to have their trucks drive in convoy, to and from the airport in Addis Ababa. "Yesterday, we did this for the first time, and even though the trucks were attacked on their way to the airport, our flowers arrived on time at the airport.'' But things aren't running smoothly there either. Not all planned flights are leaving. "One of the two flights were canceled, because there were not enough flowers," he says.

Food is scarce
And on top of that, another problem may arise in the coming days, namely the availability of food. "Nothing is being shipped from Addis Ababa to Ziway. Many shops are empty and all banks and schools are closed. And this is not only the case for Ziway, but every village throughout Ethiopia", says Paul Holla.

Unrest escalated
There's been unrest in Ethiopia for several months now, but after Esmeralda Farms was burned down, it escalated. Companies are regularly under attack, including an onion grower and a potato grower last week. "The problem concerns everyone in Ethiopia, so every farm has to deal with the protests, the challenges and the risks."

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