Predicating upon a binding document sent to horticultural farms couple of months ago by the Federal Commission of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, member farms and Commission officials came together at EHPEA Hall in Addis Ababa on Tuesday taking advantage of deliberation platform created by EHPEA.
During the deliberation representatives of various horticulture farms have voiced their concerns mentioning that a “binding document” issued to farms on environmental matters was not timely and appropriate. “The Commission shouldn’t have dispatched the document without putting any precondition and providing support ahead of time. Support and teaching as well as discussions should have been given precedence over warning.”
Participants who attended the meeting on behalf of their farms indicated that it takes adequate time and budget to fully implement the Code of Conduct and that the Commission is expected to extend awareness creation and follow-through on progress among the farms even if punishments are found to be necessary. It was also noted during the discussion that ‘big misconception which regards floriculture as a threat should be rectified.’
A participant on behalf of Red Fox PLC on the occasion said that the job opportunities and hard currency generation by the farms should not be taken for granted. “Our company has more than 2,500 employees and we pay up to two million birr every month. Floriculture farms are making significant contribution to the country’s income generation and tax. Thus, we deserve assistance from the government.”
Similarly, Florensis Ethiopia representative pointed out that although the company has made strides towards applying the Code of Conduct which was designed jointly by the Commission and EHPEA, the procedure and reporting of Environment Audit manually has posed a challenge.
Representative of Olij Roses also noted that as the government is inviting new foreign investors to engage in the horticulture sector, a clear-cut regulation has to be in place first and foremost.
Dugda Farm member during the discussion also made a point that even if some farms have made improvements even after the Commission’s binding document, no supervisor or auditor has returned to examine possible progress on farms environmental protection activities. Comments and suggestions were provided at one time but we have not seen any one who appeared for follow up and/or supervision in the last two months.
Responding to the questions and suggestions of the Farms, Commission representative said that no company could have even met the bronze level had the Commission been strict on the Code of Conduct. “We have tried level best to give support to the farms instead of urging them to entirely apply the Code.”