A national standard for controlling and limiting harmful wastes from the horticulture industry is undergoing preparation. The 'Horticulture Industry Defoliant Discharge Limit, Ethiopian Standard’, prepared by the Ethiopian Standard Agency, is specifically intended to regulate the floriculture sector, which brings in around half a billion USD annually.
The defoliant discharge standard is expected to alleviate the impacts on environmental degradation in floriculture and other agricultural sectors. Through certifying and ensuring a holistic approach throughout the floriculture process the standard aims to boost Ethiopia’s foreign currency income according to Yilma Mengistu, standard preparation director at the Agency.
The Agency is preparing the standard alongside Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa City Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry of Trade and Regional Integration, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopian Conformity Assessment Enterprise, and other stakeholders like floriculture associations.
The draft standard, currently open for public consultation, will be tested as a pilot pending final approval. The recent reform of ministries in the country is anticipated to prolong its approval.
There are 72 flower farms in Ethiopia, according to the Ethiopian Horticulture Producer Exporters Association. The large amount of hazardous waste in the sector, however, has no waste disposal procedures.
“The country had never built a national standard either for floriculture or other industries to guide the waste disposal system.” Yilma said., “There is a worldwide principle which states that any form of waste should not be disposed of unless its content and disposal is specified.” A hazardous waste management and disposal control law was approved in 2018 due to the recognition of hazardous waste as one among the main environmental problems in the country. The law underscored prevention and control of environmental pollution caused by the mismanagement of hazardous waste. But problems still remain as a result of low commitment.
The floriculture industry uses fertilizers produced specifically for flower farm purposes and which can affect the soil and surrounding environment adversely. Lack of regulation and awareness on waste disposal has led to fertilizers consumed for flower farms being used for unrelated agricultural works and in some occasions distributed for farmers without following legal procedures.
The fertilizers, acidic in content, also deplete soil fertility impacting agricultural productivity. The Agency is creating this uniform standard on waste disposal of flower farms taking this impact into consideration and its benefits are eagerly anticipated by some flower farms.
“The standard will encourage the sector to fulfill social responsibilities, such as investing in community services, and increasing the number of employees and their safety,” said Nigusse Gutema, human resource manager at Hansa Flowers, one of the flower farms running a project in Holeta, Oromia Regional State.
“As the global floriculture market is expected to follow a clean production process, supplying high-quality cut flowers for our clients following the standard will make us more competent in the industry,” Nigusse told Addis Zeybe.
Though waste disposal is often set aside for other priorities like productivity and market accessibility in manufacturing, the Agency is currently identifying the amount of hazardous waste and disposal methods in the industrial, agricultural, and electronics sectors።