Flowers at a stand during the International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX) at Oshwal Centre, Westlands Nairobi last week. Photo: Zablon Oyugi.
Kenya flowers are performing well pricewise in the international markets despite the current off-peak period for the produce. The heavy rains that has pounded the country for the past two months have slowed down production which is however meeting the current demand.
According to Mary Muthiane of My Choice Flower, a flower firm in a 30 acre land in Machakos which trades in summer flowers, single head roses and spray roses, heavy rains slows down the opening of flower petals reducing growth.
“Flowers do well in warm conditions but due to the cold weather caused by the heavy rains in the past few months we have seen production fall,” said Muthiane.
“However, this has favoured producers due to low demand in the market as the price is still high with the low production matching the demand in the market. This has ensured no produce goes to waste.”
Some of the leading flower farms in the country such as Van Den Berg for example reported a drop of about 20 per cent due to the cold weather associated with the rains.
According to the stakeholders, Kenyan flower market is at its peak between February and May every year as buyers target Valentine’s Day of February 14th, Mother’s Day in the month of March or May and International Women’s Day of March eighth every year.
Within this period the industry always gets busy and production is high with harvesting happening every week,” said Moses Kioko, an employee at Kiriki Limited, a flower farm in Thika which owns four farms across different altitudes in Kenya.
Another advantage Kenyan flowers have over others is the longer shelf life of over 21 days complimenting their quality. This makes shipping them worriless as they reach the designated markets before their petals fully opens.
“Kenyan climate and soil is favourable for flower cultivation. We export between 50,000 and 70,000 flower stems to Seychelles, Netherlands and Middle East countries every month. We sell a stem at Sh40,” said Muthiane.
The sector kept up an improved performance in 2017 to gross revenues totaling to Sh82bn which places it only second to tea in agricultural exporting earnings for government.
According to 2017,2016 statistics by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), a total of 159,961 and 133,658 metric tonnes of cut-flowers valued at Sh82,249 and 70,829 million were exported in January – December 2017 and 2016 respectively, this represent an increment of 20 per cent and 16 percent in volume and value respectively.
A total of 56,945 metric tonnes of fruits valued at Sh9,009m were exported between January and December 2017while a total of 87,240 metric tonnes of vegetables valued at Sh24,065m were exported in 2017 compared to 78,790 metric tonnes valued at Sh23,367m the previous year. This represents an increase of 11 per cent in the quantities sold and three per cent in value.