The anticipated launch of direct flights from Nairobi to the US has brought good news for the flower sector as 10 flower buyers from America graced the expo
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Visa Oshwal Centre auditorium was marked by pomp and pageantry as Nirzar Jundre, the General Manager of Black Tulip Group Kenya and his team bounced towards the podium to receive awards during a flower show held in Nairobi last week.
Even though the group didn’t produce the best rose flower 2018, they clinched bronze and gold in the roses division as Uhuru Flowers Ltd clinched the coveted platinum award, Black Tulip Farm also won platinum for the other cut flowers and best stand design categories.
The International Flower Trade & Exhibition (IFTEX) and Fresh Produce Africa (FPA), which brought together more than 270 exhibitors and 6,000 visitors, showcased over 90 per cent of all flowers grown in the country. It aimed at bringing together more buyers from region such as Russia, Middle East, Far East and the US.
“The expected launch of direct flights from Nairobi to the US has brought good news for the flower sector as 10 American flower buyers have graced this year’s event,” said Richard Fox, Kenya Flower Council chairman.
The quality of flower samples displayed was excellent, with numerous and good flower designs. The ambience at the trade fair was also cosy despite large crowds.
Among the items that stood out this year was an increase of rose flowers varieties. Companies such as De Ruiter East Africa showcased their Big Five colours (red, yellow, orange, white and pink) while the Fontana Group displayed new varieties such as Mummy Blue, Wedding Rose and Mayfair.
“Kenya still commands a huge share of the global flower market, but due to emerging markets, we need to understand new trends and respond to changing demand patterns accurately. Colours continue to dictate the market and since they change fast, you cannot stick to one colour for long,” said Jundre.
He said despite the rosy outlook for the Kenya’s flower sector amidst increasing competition, growers are also being affected by climate change. “Because of Changing weather patterns, we have experienced a decrease in production by about 30 per cent this season due to low sunlight, but we hope for the best in the future,” he added.
Jundre said Rose Downy Mildew disease is the greatest threat, causing huge losses to growers almost every year. “We have been losing 15 to 20 per cent of total exports to this disease. Ours is not the only farm affected by the disease; it’s hitting all growers,” he said.
Speaking during the official opening ceremony, Kenya Flower Council CEO Clement Tulezi said the State needs to give incentives to flower farmers during this year’s budgetary allocations so to drive faster growth for an already thriving industry.
Last year, the sector’s gross revenues stood at Sh82 billion, placing the flower sector second to tea in agricultural export earnings. “To keep up the impressive performance in 2018, there is a need for incentives on taxation, farming implements and supportive infrastructure,” he said.
Fox says a lot more needs to be done to ensure more direct flights to the emerging markets because this will lower the cost of transport abroad. “The view of Kenya as a middle-income economy is also bringing up new challenges as the country no longer enjoys trade benefits like low taxes on exports to EU compared to low-income economies such as Rwanda,” he said.
Rising competition from Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia is forcing Kenya to expore emerging markets such as China, Malysia, Hong Kong and Asia.