Dutch, Israeli farms in Ethiopia attacked by protesters

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"Local businesses were affected that have a link with the government," says Loui Hooijman, Director of Esmeralda Farms (above), a Dutch company that had its flower farms burned down in protests to the north of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week. 
Bloomberg | 1 September 2016
 
Dutch, Israeli farms in Ethiopia attacked by protesters
 
by William Davison wdavison10 
 
A Dutch-run flower farm in northern Ethiopia was among a series of foreign-owned plantations attacked by anti-government protesters as unrest in the country spreads.
 
A “large group” of people invaded Esmeralda Farms Inc.’s farm 13 kilometers (8 miles) south of Bahir Dar city in the Amhara region on Aug. 29, causing about 7 million euros ($7.8 million) of damage, country manager Haile Seifu said by phone Thursday. Flower farms in the area owned by Israeli, Italian, Indian and Belgian companies were among nine commercial properties damaged in the protests, which continued on Aug. 30, he said.
 
“They were so aggressive, there were also soldiers who couldn’t control them, so we just ran away, as it’s life or death,” he said from the capital, Addis Ababa. “They came actually at once through our compound, through our fence, through our main gate, so everybody left.”
 
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Authorities in Ethiopia have killed more than 500 people since June, according to human-rights groups, to suppress protests by the two most populous groups, the Oromo and Amhara. Analysts say the demonstrations present the biggest challenge to the government’s authority since it came to power a quarter of a century ago. The economy grew faster than any other in Africa over the past two years, International Monetary Fund data shows.
 
Nigusu Tilahun, a spokesman for the Amhara government, said he wasn’t immediately available to comment, while a call to Communications Minister Getachew Reda wasn’t answered.
 
Militias Clashing
 
Militias are also clashing with the army in parts of Gojam and Gondar areas of Amhara, with 10 people dying Wednesday in Metemma on the Sudan border, and four in Debark to the north of Gondar city, said Yared Hailemariam, executive director for the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, which is based in Belgium.
 
The military is also patrolling Bahir Dar and shooting at protesters, he said by phone from Brussels. Unless the government changes its approach, the unrest may worsen, he said.
 
“In both Oromia and Amhara region people are saying enough is enough,” Yared said. “They are demanding regime change.”

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Esmeralda Farms | 31/08/2016
 
Esmeralda Farms burn down in Ethiopia  
Dear Client,
 
By a politic demonstration, the entire company of Esmeralda Farms in Ethiopia is set on fire.
I estimates that 10 million was spent on investment went up in smoke last Monday.
 
I have not seen pictures of the damage and establish contact with our office in Ethiopia is difficult.

"Our manager there temporarily fled and information about the unrest is hardly out. It is still unstable around Bahir Dar, a city north of Addis Ababa. I understand that now ten companies, mostly horticulture, have been affected by the actions of groups that oppose the government. Now foreign investors are screwed that have had help from the government in setting up their business. A few weeks ago, local businesses were affected that have a link with the government. There were soldiers on our farm when the rebels came, they run away because the group was too large. Everything is then was set on fire. "
 
Esmeralda Farms has 150 ha of land available in Ethiopia. The end of 2015 the first 25 hectares came in production. In the 17 ha foil greenhouse are grown mainly spray roses and outside Gypsophila is the largest crop in the group summer flowers. "Three times a week we got flowers in Aalsmeer from our location in Ethiopia. That was 30-40% of our turnover in Aalsmeer, the rest comes from our companies in South America. We can do nothing now, only wait until the circumstances and people is calm and we have to inform our customers. "
 
The warehouse and cold storage rooms were built on the growth that the company wanted to make in the coming period in Ethiopia. The tractors, trucks, containers, packaging hall all are burned. All irrigation pumps are damaged all made that the crop dries and I expects the film (plastic)greenhouses have also suffered major damage. "Everything is gone. Ten million investment and a lot of time and effort has gone up in smoke within a day. Fortunately, there was only one person wounded.
 
Last year, I traveled 24 times to Ethiopia to start up the Farm.
 
It was one of the most peaceful countries in Africa.

Loui Hooijman, Director of Esmeralda Farms
Original source: Bloomberg
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