Five Dutch floriculture companies are going to develop a sustainable large-scale horticultural area in the Ethiopian Kunzila area, with the support of the Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) programmes DGGF and GRO. The project sets an example for food-producing farmers: it can enhance the productivity and food security with minimal negative impact on the local community, nature and climate.
The Dutch flower industry is very well represented in Ethiopia. A consortium of Dutch flower companies is on the verge of expanding their production area with another 500 acres in Kunzila to grow roses, summer flowers and cuttings. A development of the surrounding area is foreseen with involvement of the local population through multi-stakeholder dialogues. RVO.nl team Sustainable Territorial Development (GRO) coordinates between the investors and the local context to ensure that the proposed investment has a positive impact on inclusive development, food security, market access and climate resilience and does not lead to violations of human and land rights. One of the companies receives financing through the Dutch Good Growth Fund.
Example for future investments
The Kunzila project is still in its development phase, but has the potential to be an example for future large-scale agricultural investments. Ethiopia is, just like other parts of Africa, full of business opportunities for investors from the Netherlands, and full of possibilities to have a positive impact on nature and community. Kunzila combines these opportunities to create a win-win situation for the Netherlands and Ethiopia; an initiative that fits well within the Dutch policy priorities for developing countries.
Market access improves
The new investments will generate new infrastructure, like asphalt roads and electricity, substantially improving market access for the local community. The local farmers will also get easy access to a large commercial network for better seeds and agricultural inputs.
By implementing drip irrigation, farmers will be more self-sufficient in water use and be able to harvest not only once, but twice or three times a year. Additionally integrated pest management (IPM) will be introduced; a technique that will make the use of chemical pesticides redundant.
Ideal location for floriculture
Kunzila, the location of the investment project, is situated next to Lake Tana, in the east of Ethiopia. Lake Tana is the largest lake of Ethiopia. The ground is very fertile and the international airport is closeby. These factors in combination with the favorable climate, make this location ideal for floriculture.
Ethiopia is vulnerable to climate change. A large part of the population lives in the rural areas, being depend on small-scale agriculture and rain water. The persistent drought can be disastrous for the small-scale farmers, as they often have no alternative income. Besides these humanitarian consequences, changes in the rain patterns have a big impact on the local economies. Climate change and harmful agricultural practices lead to land degradation and desertification. Land degradation loses large amounts of CO2, which causes even more problems. The Dutch agricultural sector has a large presence in Ethiopia with an ample amount of experience in climate smart agriculture, so the Netherlands is in a unique position to contribute to a sustainable solution to these issues.
One of the Dutch agricultural sector’s expertise is circular agriculture. Compost from the flower growers is being used to improve the ground structure of the surrounding farms. During the wet season the Dutch entrepreneurs will harvest rainwater and waste water will be purified by helophyte filters, so the farmers can use this water for irrigation of their land.
These techniques and other agricultural expertise will be shared in a center of expertise, which will be initiated by the Dutch entrepreneurs to share information about farming techniques like integrated pest management, responsible land use and fertilisation for optimal productivity.
Positive impact on food security
By improving seed quality and the implementation of drip irrigation, Ethiopian farmers in the surrounding community will be able to double their productivity. They will be able to harvest more frequently and the chances of a good harvest will increase. Additionally they will be less dependent on the weather. These advantages and the improved infrastructure will enable farmers to sell their products on the local market and possibly on the international market.
Opportunities for Dutch companies
By the improved crop protection and the circular practices by the investors and the surrounding area, the whole area will be more sustainable. Land degradation can be prevented and the water quality of Lake Tana can be preserved. This doesn’t only make the land resilient against climate change, but also mitigates the effects of climate change.
Source: Daan Paardekooper (Ministry of Foreign Affairs intern) and Niek Bosmans (Agricultural attaché Netherlands Embassy, Ethiopia)