Flower farmer carrying harvested floweres. Claspedia flower variety has a shelf life of one month and fetches an average of 0.7 Euro cents translating to about seven shillings per flower stem.
Farmers from Nyandarua, Kinangop constituency have turned to growing of flowers such as planum eryngium, white agapanthus and standard eryngium among others that can earn over Sh15,000 a day and can be harvested twice a week translating to Sh30,000 a week in the export market reducing their over dependence on potatoes, cabbages and milk farming.
The farmers who have started reaping cash out of the venture were previously planting vegetables, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes as well as keeping dairy cows which have been their traditional farming practices.
In order to meet high market demands, the farmers have come together to form various farmer-groups that enables them have a collective bargaining power in the market. One such group is Multigrow Investments, with a total of 86 members and headed by Peter Murimi.
“The EU and the US markets are already interested in our flowers. We are further thinking of promoting organic pyrethrum farming in this area,” said Murimi.
“We have engaged the services of agents who assist us in marketing our products through the auction in Europe. The proceeds from the sales are then divided among the farmers as per the number of the flower stems.”
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One flower stem is currently bought at five shillings and up to seven shilling in the international market. In a day a farmer can pluck about 5000 such stems which when sold in local markets earns about Sh15,000.
A total of 84,974 and 68,979 metric tonnes of cut-flowers valued at Sh48,640 and Sh41,133 million were exported in January – June 2017 and 2016 respectively, this represent an increment of 23 per cent and 18 per cent in Volume and in Value respectively according to Horticultural Crops Directorate’ Fresh Horticultural Crops Export January – June 2017 And 2016 statistics.
Other farmers from the area also found food crops not doing well in the market other taking long to mature and harvest despite the fact that the production cost of food and flowers is the same, which is Sh40,000 per season.
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I used to grow potatoes and vegetables but now I have changed to flowers and sell to retailers in Nairobi and other towns. I have also been introduced to an exporter who I sell my flowers to,” said Njoroge Kimani who grows white and blue flowers near Njambini township in Kinangop.
“The flowers are usually in high demand between December and May as most buyer target Christmas, New Year and Valentine celebrations.”
According to Murimi a farmer should plant different types of flowers such as varieties such as eryngium, mobidique, allium, claspedia, mollucella, scabiosa, agapanthus, ornis, lilies among other summer flowers mostly used as fillers in order to sustain a steady flow of cash throughout the year.
“Another successful variety of flowers that we grow is Claspedia. This type gets high demand during Mother’s Day celebrations and also to make winter bouquets,” said Murimi.
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The small headed yellow flower also has a shelf life of one month and fetches an average of 0.7 Euro cents translating to about seven shillings per flower stem. For Claspedia, a farmer can harvest a 100 stems per square metre per year. Farmers like this variety because it is not affected by diseases.