Esmeralda Farms in Ethiopia knocked down

The entire company of Esmeralda Farms in Ethiopia has been knocked down because of arson. CEO Loui Hooyman estimates that 10 millions of investments have been gone up in smoke.

Hooyman, Esmeralda Farms’ CEO, has not seen images of the damage yet, and it is hard to contact their company in Ethiopia. ‘Our manager there temporarily fled and information about the disorder hardly comes out. It’s still very unquiet round Bahar Dar, a city in the north of Addis Ababa. I understand that at least ten companies, mainly agricultural ones, suffer actions from groups combating the government. Foreign investors that received help from the government to establish their companies are the victims now. A couple of weeks ago, the local companies linked to the government were the victims. The military were at our company when the rebels came, and they fled because the group was too large. Everything was then set on fire.’

Esmeralda Farms has 150 hectares of land in Ehtiopia. The first 25 hectares were cultivated at the end of 2015. In the 17 hectares of poly greenhouses, they mainly cultivated spray roses and gypsophilia is cultivated most outside in the group of summer flowers.

‘Our location in Aalsmeer received the crops from our Ethiopian location three times a week. That was about 30-40% of our turnover in Aalsmeer, the rest came from our companies in South America. All we can do now is wait until things have settled down again and inform our customers.’

The shed and cooling cellars were built for the expansion the company wanted to have in Ethiopia in the near future. Tractors, lorries, packaging materials, etc. have all been burnt to the ground. All irrigation pumps are destroyed, so the crops will dry out and Hooyman is expecting the poly greenhouses to be damaged as well.

‘Everything is gone. Ten million of investments and a lot of time and effort have been burnt to the ground in one day. Luckily, only one person got wounded. I’ve been to Ethiopia to start it all up 24 times last year. It’s now one of the quietest countries in Africa and it actually still is, but the opposition now struck us on a local level. We’re in a relatively new agricultural area. It started with a Belgian neighbour that cultivates beans, then our Italian neighbour started with gypsophylia and then we were next. Conversations with the president now take place regarding how we could continue. You cannot get insurance against damage like this.’