African roses bloom on Dulles’ runways
Vendors in Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany have embraced the relatively new commodity, but the distant farms pose a logistical challenge for U.S. markets.
That’s all changing, as one local airport is making an effort to take advantage of the burgeoning market and help the local economy blossom.
According to the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association, roses are the most commonly grown flower in the country.
Ethiopia’s high altitude and nutrient-rich soil make an ideal climate for growing hardy flowers, and if properly cared for, the roses can last up to 30 days.
They come in colors ranging from the palest cream to a dark purple that could be mistaken for black.
“We come from a country that has emerged from a long history of famine, drought, war and desperation, and is entering the realm of the nations of the not-so-desperate,” said Tsegaye Abebe, chairman of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer-Exporters Association and manager of his own flower and vegetable farms. “We also come with the new image of Ethiopia; a smiling, flowery and colorful one.”
About 50,000 people now are employed at more than 100 flower-growing farms, and about 85 percent of them are women. Some of the larger farms, which stretch out over acres of land, include dorms, schools and medical centers to accommodate the workers.