Seth Onyango @sethmanex
Local flower dealers are whiffing the sweet scent of cash as lovers across the country convey their rose-laden affection for one another during today’s Valentine’s Day.
As lovers paint the streets of major towns red, the industry is optimistic it rake in Sh100 billion this year. Kenya Flower Council (KFC) says sales were buoyed by pre-orders of the red roses with the bulk of it having been shipped abroad by February 5.
KFC chief executive Clement Tulezi remained upbeat the local market would absorb a significant portion of flowers in the local stores. He says the demand for red roses, which is associated with love, has nearly outstripped supply this year. “The red rose is one of our greatest gold this month.
People the world over associate it with love and this being the “Month of Love” as February is commonly referred to, our annual industry bottom line is reaping from this glory,” he said. This year’s V-Day sales are a significant rebound from last year’s not so rosy statistics, although the sector has been on a growth path, from Sh35.5 billion in 2010 to Sh70.8 billion in 2016.
This is due to increased international demand for Kenyan flowers coupled with as emergence of new markets. “Kenya remains the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world and accounts for about 35 per cent of all sales in the EU markets including Holland, Germany, UK, Switzerland and France.
We have also created in roads in Russia and the US, as well as China, Middle East, Japan and all other emerging markets. Currently, Kenya flowers are sold in more than 60 countries,” said Tulezi.
Around 50 per cent of exported flowers are sold through the Dutch auctions, although direct sales are growing. In the United Kingdom, supermarkets are the main outlets. Flower industry employs more than 100, 000 people who directly work in the flower farms, translating to nearly two million Kenyans who benefit from the sector.
Main flowers grown in Kenya are roses, carnations, and Alstromeria gypsophilla, lilies eryngiums, arabicum, hypericum and Statice, as well as a range of summer flowers.
As of yesterday, nearly all green houses, including the 19 hectares Magana Flowers facility, had no red roses. A single stem retails for Sh50 on the export market with Magana harvesting around 70,000 stems of flowers on average each day.