Useful Papers


Floriculture, and especially cut flowers, is proving to be a lucrative trade prospect for many African countries. Initially the preserve of countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe – which successfully organised institutions to promote their produce in this field and subsequently infiltrated European and other markets – cut flowers holds large potential for SADC countries given their climates, abundant availability of land and labour and counter-cyclical seasonality to the northern markets.

Floriculture is a sub-set of horticulture and is classified under high-value agricultural commodities. Recently a body of literature has developed which advocates the growing of high-value agricultural commodities for developing countries, since the demand for these commodities is rising rapidly (in relation to the demand for other agricultural commodities) and since they fetch higher prices (especially in the developed markets) than traditional commodities. Cut flowers is a good example of a product that has been used in export-led growth strategies.

For an excellent analysis on the importance of high-value products for developing country farmers, go to:

For more specific analysis on the topic for small-scale farmers in the sub-Saharan region, please see the following paper:

Other information on similar topics can be found at:

Related to the above list of papers and links is the idea that agricultural trade can help to alleviate poverty in the rural areas of developing countries, and especially those in sub-Saharan Africa. As many farmers from these regions are small-scale or subsistence farmers, becoming part of the international value chain in agricultural commodities is a particularly challenging task.

Nevertheless there are some papers/resources that deal with this particular issue. For more information on poverty reduction through trade, please read the following publications from the United Nations and USAID:

Trade and the size of markets

The following paper is an excellent source of information on global agricultural trade patterns and the integration of developing countries into such trade. It gives an excellent analysis of global trends and numerous issues that face developing countries as they try to participate in international trade in many agricultural commodities. The paper includes information on preferential access, standards, policies and reforms.

For information about world trends in cut flowers’ trade and consumption (although somewhat dated), please visit:

For information regarding specific products, the International Trade Centre’s Product Map has many useful market analysis reports, market news services, some price information and links to many other useful sites. This service is not available for free, but if you are in South Africa we may be able to arrange use of the service through TIPS. For more information on Product Map, please visit:

Regional information

Information on the US industry, market, production, consumption and trade:

Information on the European markets (industrial food ingredients):

Information on the Japanese markets:

Information on the Malaysian cut-flower industry, and the potential that exists in exporting to Japan:

Information on the Mediterranean cut-flower industry:

Information on trade and trade policy in Kenya:

For trade statistics, please visit the UN Comtrade website at:

SADC region

SADC countries’ demonstrated ability to develop export market shares indicates a degree of competitive advantage in this cluster of products. Sources of advantage in the region emanate from cheap and available land, low labour costs, excellent climatic conditions as well as (the occasionally double-edged sword of) counter-seasonality with many of the major markets.

An excellent starting point when looking at the SADC region is a report by USAID covering four countries in the SADC region: Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. This can be found at:

Information about Zambia and the export prospects of high-value agricultural commodities can be found at:

This survey is part of a series that includes other SADC countries (Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa). These can be found at:

Information about Mozambique and the Beira Corridor and its fruit and flower production can be found at:

Information on Ethiopian prospects (and subsequent success story) in cut flower and other horticultural exports can be found at:

For more information about the South African Flower Growers Association (SAFGA), please visit:

Information on the South African cut-flower industry:

Information about the Zambian flower export industry:

Information on the Zimbabwean flower export industry:

Practical information

For practical information on how to get started cultivating field-grown cut flowers, please see the following site:

Standards and legislation

For more information about the US policy towards floriculture, please see:

For more information about the CITES initiative to stop the trade in endangered species and how it affects the trade in cut flowers, please visit:
For information on market access requirements for the EU, visit: