Ethiopia is known for its colorful and fragrant flowers, which it exports to the world. Its horticulture sector is the world’s fifth-largest. But it’s facing a major crisis due to the escalating violence in the northern Amhara region. The conflict, which pits federal troops against local militias, has disrupted the operations of many flower farms, threatening their productivity and profitability.

Ethiopia’s flower industry generated over $650 million in revenue in 2022, according to the country’s horticulture association. The bulk of its exports are fresh-cut roses, which are in high demand for occasions like Christmas, and Valentine’s Day in Western countries. Last year, Ethiopia exported 2.7 million kilograms of flowers to the European market during Valentine’s Day alone. The peak season for flower exports runs from December to June. But this year, it may be severely affected by the conflict in the Amhara region, which is home to many flower plantations.

Violence has engulfed the Amhara region since August, when local militants launched a rebellion against the federal government, accusing it of marginalizing and oppressing the Amhara people. The federal troops have responded with a fierce crackdown, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of displacements. The conflict has also disrupted the supply chains, transport networks, and security of the flower farms, forcing many of them to halt or reduce their activities. The Amhara regional government said it had lost up to $45 million, mostly from flower exports, alongside massive layoffs, since the start of the conflict.