Featured Past Articles
EU Trade Deal

The horticulture sector stands to lose about Sh4 billion monthly if a key trade deal with the European Union is not signed by October 1. Regional countries that make up the East African Community (EAC) are supposed to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) jointly. The agreement gives the region’s products duty-free export access to European markets. For the EPAs to be valid, the entire region needed to agree to them, but special concessions would remain in place for least developing countries.

Kenya, therefore, stands to lose the most if export subsidies are withdrawn. However, Tanzania and Uganda have been dragging their feet in reaching the deal.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC) Chairman Richard Fox said failure by Kenya to sign the EPA will subject it to export duty of between 8 per cent and 12 per cent, which will amount to 3 million pounds per month (Sh4 billion).

Kenya is the only country in the EAC considered a developing country, while its neighbours are still ranked as least developed countries (LDC), thus allowing them duty free market access. The LDC countries are not required to sign EPAs since their preferences will continue under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

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Positioning Kenya’s Floriculture in the Global Market

This year’s IFTEX trade fair theme was “Positioning Kenya’s Floriculture in the global market.” This theme was in line with The Kenya Vision 2030 development blue print which envisages the creation of a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life for all citizens by the year 2030. The Agriculture sector efforts are therefore anchored on increasing productivity, commercialization and competitiveness of agricultural commodities and enterprises. The floriculture industry is a good example of how this strategy is taking shape.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of IFTEX 2016, Dr. Richard Lesiyambe, Principal Secretary, State Department of Agriculture said, “I am happy to note IFTEX creates a platform and a conducive environment for over 200 exhibitors who include breeders, propagators, growers, exporters, suppliers and other flower industry related players and stakeholders both from Kenya and all over the world, who take time to discuss the development of trade in this important industry. Over 5,000 visitors visited the stands this year. These visitors came from the EU, Russia, USA, Middle and Far East and China, in addition to others from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania. This forum is therefore an opportunity for the Kenyan floriculture sub sector players to contract business transactions, exchange information and share experiences that are beneficial to their businesses”.

The floriculture sub sector in Kenya is a major foreign exchange earner and employs over 500,000 people directly and more than 6 million people indirectly. The sub sector has also recorded the highest growth rate of between 10% and 20% annually over the last 15 years. In Africa, Kenya is the leading flower growers and exporters.

Indeed, in the year 2015, Kenya exported flowers worth 630 million USD as compared to 550 USD Million in the year 2014 which is about 69% of the total horticulture export earnings of over 910 Million USD in the same year. Statistics show that Kenya contributes to over 35 % of the world flower trade and competes with countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, and Ethiopia in the world flower business. The rose flower is the top Kenyan variety, leading in exports, followed by carnations, statice, alstroemeria, eryngiums, arabicums, cut foliage, chrysanthemums, solidago, and a range of summer flowers among others and the main export destination is the EU with a 36% market share of imports.

The major market for Kenyan flowers is Europe with new emerging markets in Japan, Middle East and Russia. It is gratifying that this sub sector is fully capable of supplying any flower buyer with quantity, quality and variety of flowers all year round. Stakeholders should continue putting more effort towards a sustained growth of the industry and continue engaging the Government in efforts to make flowers more competitive in the international market.

In recognition to the role played by this sub sector in the Kenyan economy, the government is undertaking a number of initiatives to develop the industry.

The government has establishment an Agriculture Development Fund that is envisaged to support the development of agriculture crops in general and horticulture crops in particular.

The government is continuously reviewing policies and regulatory framework to ensure a conducive environment for investors and facilitate further growth of the sub-sector and the flower industry in particular.

In recognition to the role played by institutions, the government will continue to facilitate the competitiveness of Kenya’s horticultural sector, and promote international, regional and local trade by continuing to strengthen the Horticultural Crops Directorate which is pivotal in International Market promotional activities, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, whose services have been upgraded to ensure electronic licensing and improved laboratory facilities and services, the Pest Control Products Board, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation and other relevant institutions to enable them play a greater role in improving standards and service provision in the subsector. To ensure that Horticulture subsector has a coordinated approach to issues affecting horticulture, especially with regard to market requirements and compliance, the Government has established the Horticulture Competent Authority Structure and National Traceability System in which the private sector institutions such as the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) and the Fresh Produce Exporters Association (FPEAK) are members.

The Government has continued to Zero rate VAT and give Duty exemptions for: irrigation, fertigation and water application related equipment, horticulture machinery for soil preparation, fertilizers, greenhouse materials, and equipment.

To reciprocate the initiatives being undertaken by Government, the private sector should engage more with both the National and County Governments under the public private partnerships (PPPs) initiative in creating innovative solutions that will go a long way in addressing challenges facing the sub-sector.

 
IFTEX 2016: Deliver the Final Bouquet To the Customer’s Vase

Popularly known as IFTEX, the show brings buyers from across the world to meet with growers who have staged a spectacular show of unarguably one of the best mixes of flowers the world can get, as well as the industry supply chain of products and services that together deliver the final bouquet to the customer’s vase.

IFTEX 2016 was special as it marked the fifth year since the show was launched in 2011. In addition, several celebrations and important meetings for flower industry stakeholders coincided with the fair, attesting to the growing importance of the event to the sector.

The Kenya Flower Council was celebrating its 20th anniversary and its global counterpart Union Fleurs (Union of International Flower Associations) held its Annual General Meeting during IFTEX week.

Due to the great interest of existing exhibitors to participate again, but also from many new companies and the invitation to flower growers from surrounding countries, IFTEX extended its exhibition space with another 2,000m² bringing the total exhibition area to 10,000m², attesting to its year on year growth.

IFTEX has stumped its authority as a leading flower trade show in the world. From the beginning, the event exhibited signs of setting a new record as the fastest growing flower show in the history of international flower trade fairs due to its attracting exhibitors and visitors from other continents and five years later, all indications are, the position still holds.

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Flower Buyers Flock Nairobi To Source First Hand

Kenya’s floriculture sub-sector is courting the United States, Chinese, Korean, Australian and Japanese markets as it seeks to expand from traditional European Union (EU) market.

Delegates of leading international buyers, wholesalers and retailers from almost a dozen countries outside the EU market attended the fifth edition of the International Flower Trade exhibition (IFTEX).

 

Middle East Market

The phenomenal growth of Black Tulip Group in flora trade is set to benefit Kenya more than any other country. Currently the group has boasts of Black Petals, Blue Sky ltd, Laurel Investments, Utee Estate, Golden Tulip farms Ltd and Tropiflora Ltd. Speaking exclusively to Floriculture Magazine, Mr. Sunny Abraham, a director with the Sharjah based group said they were establishing more presence in the country. He added, the company has acquired more farms in Kenya but this does not stop them from buying from growers. “Our market is large and cannot be sustained from our production. We are looking for more Kenyan growers to buy flowers from”. he said.

Agro-climatic conditions at Kenya are best suited for cultivating host of cut flowers for consistent and quality supplies. We recognized this potential and launched a Group company to basket an attractive product mix.

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East African Packaging Industries Ltd are Making Magic

“East African Packaging Industries LTD. are making magic. In one word, they exist for the sake of simplicity. They focus their efforts into taking on all the worries over packaging from their customers, leaving them to concentrate on their core activities. Their contribution to the business mix is brief, crisp, penetrating, perceptible and a creative insight into the minds of consumers. Memorable ideas, images and stories, where less is more and understanding triumphs over information”, I concluded as Mr Nick Barnes took us through the interview. In his narration from one department to the other, one statement kept on recurring, no compromise to quality.

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Briefs

Royal De Ruiter East Africa Holds Successful Open Days Showcase

Royal De Ruiter East Africa welcomed African rose growers and other players in the floriculture industry to their first open house showcase this year. The two day event held on 9th and 10th March was an opportunity for Royal De Ruiter to showcase their current commercial varieites, new market introductions as well as code varieties. “The open days were timely as we got to share with our partners our strategic plan moving forward especially after receiving our royal designation just before close of 2015,” said Edward Manning, MD Royal De Ruiter East Africa. Notably present during the open days was one of Royal De Ruiter owner directors Henk de Groot who interacted with guests as they shared ideas and exchanged deals.

Rose varieties bred at Royal De Ruiter are sold worldwide, supported by a network of agents and representatives who provide prospective buyers with carefully compiled information based on measurements carried out on our products at our various testing facilities. Royal De Ruiter also has testing facilities in all of its production areas across the globe, an approach that has proved highly beneficial in realising the firm’s envisioned goals in respect of product differentiation.

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Be wary of downy mildew

They say that our crops are exposed to about 240 economically important pests and diseases and Downy mildew happens to be that disease affecting the many varieties of roses grown in Kenya today.

Downy Mildew is one of the major disease challenges to the floriculture industry whose control budget is about 20% of the total pesticide value. It occurs rapidly and the effects on the quality of roses is irreversible and the loss is irreparable.

 

What is downy mildew?

Downy mildew is a fungal disease that mainly causes destruction of leaves leading to massive defoliation. It’s a disease of moist cloudy conditions which is active only in cool and damp conditions that causes severe and rapid defoliation - can defoliate an entire plant in 2 days. The causal organism being Peronospora sparsa, a fungus that is highly destructive and fast spreading in roses.

Downy mildew affects different parts of the plant such as the leaves, stems, peduncles, calyxes and petals hence affecting young growth which may wilt. The leaf symptoms are Irregular-shaped, purple spots that form on the upper leaf surface while light grey brown spore masses form on the underside of the leaf. The brown spots look like injuries caused by a chemical spray. Older leaves infected first and then progressively younger leaves follow.

The fungus under unfavourable conditions, survives as mycelium or oospores in or on plant parts without showing disease signs but upon favourable conditions, mycelium growth resumes among the plant cells to produce oospores (fungal seeds) within 3 days. Oospores are spread by wind or water and germinate on leaf or other plant surface. Unlike powdery mildew spores, which are spread by the wind, downy mildew is spread by splashing water. Some farms carry over the disease from bud wood taken from infected stock during propagation.

 

How do you control downy mildew?

That’s the question in some of if not all grower’s mind and the many who are able to control it are able to identify the disease and it’s stages, looking for symptoms of early infection on older leaf tissue before chlorosis develops and identifying the symptoms before the disease reaches flowers, understanding the biology, the predisposing factors, monitoring the disease’s progress which helps in predetermining the disease onset and coming up with an appropriate chemical intervention. Controlling the disease can be summarized into;

 

Field and Crop Hygiene: This involves maintaining greenhouse cleanliness, removing infected plant tissues & fallen plant debris well away from your production area since spores may survive and be viable on dried fallen leaves for as long as one month. Cultural Practices which may include opening up the crop by pruning, improving greenhouse air ventilation by opening up vents especially at sunset when the greenhouse air is warm and moist while outside air is cool and drier. It is critical to keep relative humidity below 85% to decrease sporulation on infected plants and stop germination of spores on healthy plants. Humidity should not remain above 85% for more than 3 hours

Chemical Intervention: This is the last but not least method of controlling downy mildew. Crop protection products safeguard harvest yields, and thereby ensure that the flowers are of high quality. Many products give excellent control when used as preventive treatments rather than curative treatments. Growers should categorize the fungicides into Penetrant, Protectant, Post-infection, eradicant, Immune system enhancement etc. Another notable factor is the Spectrum of activity, Resistance concerns and IPM management coupled with crop safety.

There is need to position the chemical so as to interrupt the disease progress at the right point as well as the correct application which is critical.

 

BASF knows the threat of downy mildew and is constantly innovating new solutions that can stand the test of twenty first century grower demands and challenges. BASF has introduced Orvego® 525SC whose activity is superior in Downy mildew control.

Orvego® 525SC is a versatile element for your downy mildew spray program that maximizes the marketable yields of your crops – for all markets worldwide. It has dimethomorph and Initium™ that stops the flow of energy in the fungus like a valve stops the flow of fuel in a pipe as well as no cross resistance observed with other chemical classes. Initium is an innovation breakthrough by BASF and forms a very vital tool for resistance management as it’s in a class of its own.

The parting shot is that the damage caused by Downy mildew is more or less dependent on the skill and experience of the grower who takes customer satisfaction a notch higher.

Joseph Maina is the BASF Ornamentals Manager - Kenya

 
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