Holla Roses sustainably growing on 42 ha in Ethiopia

Holla Roses first grew roses in The Netherlands, but recognised years ago that the future for sustainable rose production lay in Ethiopia. The Ziway Roses PLC nursery now has a surface area of 42 hectares, which is quite sizeable by African standards as well. It equals 55 football fields. And the financial yield is growing too.

"At the company we grow a broad assortment that includes Red Calypso, A1 and Moonwalk", says Paul Holla. "Per strain we plant around three hectares, occasionally as much as seven hectares. Our company is located at an altitude of 1700 meters. There are nurseries in Africa at higher altitudes, who can grow large-flower roses. We are in the intermediate size segment, with strains that have a head size of 3.2 to 3.5 centimetres, and strains with a head size of 4.0 centimetres.

Half of our sales run via the auction clock, but our direct sales are growing along with the retail segment. We wish to consolidate by expanding in that segment. Our customers can have their products in any way they want. Wrapped in the end customer's sleeves, with a price sticker or even in special quantities. We represent a customised approach."

A different kind of entrepreneurship

"At the end of the day, you are a rose grower, whether in The Netherlands or in Ethiopia", Holla continues. "But you do encounter different types of problems. In The Netherlands, the costs of energy and labour are high. In Ethiopia, there are extensive regulations and state influence. We also apply the standards of MPS and Socially Qualified. In terms of social provisions we benefit from the shared use of, for example, a hospital, a primary school, a secondary school, a club house and a sports facility.
The company is run by three brothers. My brother Marc lives in Ethiopia and manages the nursery. My brother Bart is responsible for operational activities. I am responsible for management and sales. We see each other often enough to closely coordinate our activities."

A more active role

Holla Roses is member of FloraHolland. "To be honest, the main reason is the payment security", Paul Holla admits. "Payment security is a good thing, but I would like to see FloraHolland take a more active role. For example, in developing new markets or creating hubs to facilitate our sales. And to develop international financial services to ensure smooth financial transactions."

Holla would also like to see more chain collaboration. "If buyers can let growers and breeders know what they believe will sell well, then we can respond to that demand much more efficiently. It will boost the growth of direct sales even further."

Source: FloraHolland Magazine november 2013

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