Learn about the adoption of IPM and wetlands systems on rose farm Sher Ethiopia Plc (Afriflora) near lake Ziway, Ethiopia, and the resulting positive impacts explained in a research study commissioned by IDH.

The full report investigates the impacts and describes the business case for constructed wetlands and integrated pest management (IPM) practices to reduce risks towards workers and the environment.

In Ethiopia, the flower sector has become one of the country’s key industries over the past years, with export earnings having grown from USD 65 million to USD 261 million between 2006 and 2016. There are now over a 100 flower farms in the country, covering more than 1,700 hectare and producing more than 2.1 billion flower stems.

In line with the sector’s growth, there is an increasing need and demand for sustainably produced flowers, with minimum impact on the environment and without harming human health. IDH, the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI), Sher Ethiopia Plc (Afriflora), Koppert and Ecofyt, joined forces in several projects implemented between 2014 and 2019 near lake Ziway in Ethiopia to improve environmental sustainability of Ethiopian cut rose production.

In 2019, IDH commissioned Keith Jones, a pesticide expert, to analyse the projects’ interventions and the technical characteristics of the innovations introduced.

The projects focused on two themes: the construction of wetlands to reduce pesticide pollution to the lake, and integrated pest management (IPM) practices based on the introduction of biological control (biocontrol) agents to replace the use of synthetic chemical pesticides. The study concluded that constructed wetlands and IPM practices are complementary, as the reduction in the use of chemical pesticides resulting from adoption of IPM leads to higher efficiency of the wetlands, and as such presents a  cost-effective opportunity of significantly reducing the risk to workers and the environment.

Furthermore, additional literary research links the findings to the status of regional production as well as the latest developments on wetland and IPM technology, and includes consideration to further promote the use of wetlands and facilitate the development and uptake of current and new biocontrol options in the region.

Now publicly available on the IDH website, we invite you to download the full report and access unique insights into the technical characteristics, benefits of the investments and barriers met by the projects partners, as well as conclusions and recommendations for different industry stakeholders to support further uptake of best practices and creating positive impacts.


The system of constructed wetlands was shown to reduce the total amount of pesticides in wastewater from the farm by up to 99.98%. This allowed the recycling of the wastewater from the farm, resulting in a saving of 500 m3 per hectare per year. Furthermore, the water proved to be purer than that of Lake Ziway itself, even allowing the water basins of the constructed wetland to sustain a population of tilapia.

The introduction of biocontrol agents for control of Red Spider Mite and Mealy Bug has been successful and resulted in an estimated 80% reduction in insecticide use. There currently are no effective biocontrol agents for control of Thrips and Aphids under Ethiopian conditions, meaning these remain to be controlled by judicious use of pesticides. In the latter case, products of low toxicity are the products of choice in IPM. Sher Ethiopia Plc (Afriflora) has assisted in the training of personnel on other farms in the region to facilitate IPM adoption.

Read more in the full report

The research study showed that wetland technology and IPM practices as implemented by Sher Ethiopia Plc (Afriflora) are a cost-effective way to significantly reduce the risk of pesticide contamination for workers and the environment while maintaining required levels of pest control. Combined, adoption offers multiple benefits:

  • Significant reduction in contamination of water used on the farm (up to 99.98%)
  • Less water intake and more efficient water use through 100% recycling (saving 500 m3 per ha per year)
  • Safer working environment and reduced risk to workers
  • No pesticide pollution in rivers and lakes
  • Lower and more targeted pest control applications
  • Crop health is less dependent on human interventions
  • Pro-actively meeting future marketing requirements

The study furthermore determined possible limitations to adoption of the interventions by researching neighbouring farms.

Read more in the full report

To further facilitate adoption of wetland technology and IPM practices, the project resulted in the following recommendations per stakeholder groups.

For commercial flower farmers:

  • Adopt the two strategies of wetlands and biological control simultaneously
  • Continued testing of pesticide residue levels in waste water
  • New trials for biocontrol agents to further reduce pesticide use

For government institutions:

  • Provide a regulatory framework promoting IPM and water stewardship
  • Invest in capacity building and education in IPM and water stewardship
  • Invest in accredited laboratories for water and residue testing

For sector organisations:

  • Promote IPM and wetland simultaneously to achieve better results and lower costs
  • Provide capacity building of regulatory authorities in biocontrol and water stewardship
  • Support the testing and integration of new biologicals (including local production)
  • Strengthen in-country expertise
  • Adopt good practice for IPM and water stewardship in relevant code(s) of practice
  • Highlight and promote the business case and benefits for adoption of IPM and water stewardship

IDH and FSI, together with their floriculture partners, will explore possibilities to follow-up drawing on lessons from the study and to include best practices into their code of conduct, facilitating the scaling up of these sustainability approaches and linking them to the Ethiopian government and its regulations. By doing so, IDH aims to mainstream innovative sustainability practices in the floriculture sector and its institutional environment.

More information

or read more:

  • Business Case Report – “The adoption of constructed wetlands and biocontrol on rose farms at lake Ziway, Ethiopia”
  • Business Case Fact sheet – “Lowering environmental impact in the Ethiopian flower industry”