twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Kenya's blossoming flower sector targets new markets

At least 125 local and international companies showcased their products and services at the second International Flower Trade Exhibition (IFTEX) recently held at the Oshwal Centre on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya flower industry rick mn FlickrOserian Flower Farm in Kenya. (Image source: rick_mn/Flickr)

The companies included flower producers, suppliers of inputs and services, supermarkets, auctions and banks.

They were exhibiting at the three-day IFTEX show, globally rated fifth among the leading flower exhibitions.

The East African region and in particular Kenya has become an important source of cut flowers for the global market. Ethiopia and Rwanda have fledging floriculture sectors, rivalled only by Kenya in terms of production and returns.

"Kenya supplied 55 per cent of the flowers sold at Dutch auctions and 40 per cent of the produce in the EU, placing it in a unique market position," observed Dick Raamsdonk, the president of HPP of Netherlands, the event’s organiser.

According to Raamsdonk, Kenya is among the world’s leading supplier of cut flowers and therefore the country should be home to an equally large exhibition.

"Many of the buyers get the flowers after they have arrived in Europe. We feel it necessary that they visit the source," he added, underscoring the increased interest of flower buyers in getting information on where their products are grown.

According to the Kenyan Economic Survey 2013, the cut flower sector earned the country US$765mn in 2012, up from US$692mn in 2011. The country is the lead exporter of cut flowers to the EU controlling 38 per cent of the market share.

Of all exports, 65 per cent are sold through Dutch auction for re-export, 25 per cent to the UK, with Japan, US, Russia, France and Germany making up the rest. Roses comprise the bulk of the exports at 87.7 per cent, followed by carnations at 7.4 per cent and alstroemeria at 1.8 per cent.

"We have participated in many world-class flower exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the US, and it is an honour to have such a show on our land. This show is equivalent to exhibitions in New York, Amsterdam and Ecuador," noted Jane Ngige, chief executive of the Kenya Flower Council, a body that bring together flower producers in the country.

Ngige noted that the flower sector had further opportunities for growth, but challenges such the cost of logistics and packing demanded by the buyers were eating into profits.

"Growers should form marketing firms and team up with exporters. This will give better returns compared with what they are getting through the Dutch auction exports," Ngige added.

The exhibition came at a time when Kenya was on the threshold of making a breakthrough to access the US market directly, providing an alternative outlet for horticultural exports.

"We are still negotiating for direct flights to the US to reduce cost of exportation. Today, we must access the US market through the EU creating logistical problems and increasing costs", said Dr Alfred Serem of industry regulator the Horticultural Crop Development Authority (HCDA).

Access to the lucrative US market is expected to cushion Kenyan growers from shocks brought about by the Euro crisis as well as fluctuations in the EU’s low season. Horticultural produce that can be sold to the US market include cut flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Speaking during the occasion, Kenya’s agriculture cabinet secretary Felix Kosgey said the government has laid out plans that would boost the horticultural sector.

"We will partner with financial institutions – both government and commercial banks – to ensure easy and affordable loans for farmers in the country," Kosgey observed.

During the exhibition, growers and inputs got a chance to establish vital business links for future reference.

Mikyas Bekele, a field officer with Ethiopian Horticultural Producers and Exporters Association, which represents 80 flowers farmers in the country, said, "We are exhibiting for the first time and we have been able to achieve important partnerships that will help up penetrate the flower market."

Bekele noted that the Ethiopian flower sector was catching up with the Kenyan sector and that it was eager to use the three-day event to promote their produce to the global buyers.

Another recent entrant to the flower sector, Trodding Africa Limited, recently won the best growers award for all flowers apart from roses.

Margaret Muthoni, a director at Trodding, remarked, "We are new company having ventured into this business in 2011 but we believe in getting the right quality of flowers before we think of the quality. We are yet to start direct exports ourselves choosing to ship through another local company."

The company has 10 acres of flowers at its two farms located in Naivasha and Kinangop.

A smallholder flower farmer, Richard Kinoti, from Timau region on the shoulders of Mt Kenya, has been attending flower shows since 2004.

Kinoti commented, "It has become an eye opener for me to get vital information on emerging issues in the flower sector. With the digital revolution taking place, it has become important for all farmers to understand important applications that are of help in controlling pests, keeping records and faster communications."

Mwangi Mumero

LATEST NEWS IN Horticulture

Pest management restores Africa’s mango markets

Pest management restores Africa’s mango …

The Alien Invasive Fruit Flies project in Southern Africa, supported by the International Development Research Centre and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, has come up with five technologies...

Sustainable fruit at the heart of South African blueberry drive

Sustainable fruit at the heart of South …

South African blueberry growers are stepping up their promotional drive in Germany by highlighting the quality and sustainability credentials of their fruit

Fruit breeding, the answer to climate change?

Fruit breeding, the answer to climate ch…

Dr Chris Owens, IFG's lead plant breeder, speaks with Tulana Nayak from African Farming, about the challenges of fruit breeding and what the future holds.

South African campaign targets UK consumers with excellent plum quality

South African campaign targets UK consum…

South African plum growers have reported excellent crop quality this season as they look to inspire UK consumers to choose their fruit

Morocco to record a 12% rise in citrus fruit production

Morocco to record a 12% rise in citrus f…

Citrus fruit production in Morocco is expected to reach an estimated 2.55 mmt in 2021/2022, registering a 12% rise from the previous period

Quality SA Sultana from South Africa key to growing demand in UK

Quality SA Sultana from South Africa key…

As the retailer and wholesaler demand for sultanas in the UK is currently rising due to their competitive pricing and good quality, the South African raisin industry is taking advantage...

Prev Next


Hydrofarm launches PHOTOBIO•TX and PHOTOBIO•T linear top lights

Hydrofarm launches PHOTOBIO•TX and PHOTO…

Hydrofarm Holdings Group, an independent wholesaler and manufacturer of hydroponics equipment and commercial horticultural products, has launched PHOTOBIO•TX and PHOTOBIO•T linear top lights — the newest additions to the Phantom...

Kenya develops drought-tolerant passion fruits

Kenya develops drought-tolerant passion …

Kenya has developed three new drought-resistant varieties of passion fruit, it was revealed this week

Kenya flower farms turn to solar power

Kenya flower farms turn to solar power

Kenyan flower farms have started investing in solar panels in an attempt to get access to a stable power source and cut electricity costs

Morrisons named Stone Fruit Retailer of the Year

Morrisons named Stone Fruit Retailer of …

Morrisons has been awarded the Stone Fruit Retailer of the Year for the 2020/21 season due to their strong category performance and support for South African produce this year

Rwanda aims for US$140mn annually as export returns through horticulture

Rwanda aims for US$140mn annually as exp…

Rwanda is depending on its horticulture sector to fetch export returns worth around US$140mn annually by the end of the decade 

Zambia gets US$45mn AfDB funding for cashew sector

Zambia gets US$45mn AfDB funding for cas…

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$45mn loan to finance the Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) in Zambia

African students receive Global Rice Science Scholarships

African students receive Global Rice Sci…

Nine PhD students from Africa have won 2011 Global Rice Science Scholarships (GRiSS)

Horticulture industry blooming in Ethiopia

Horticulture industry blooming in Ethiop…

Ethiopia has transformed its flower sector from a tiny sector into a US$200 million cut flowers export business within a span of 10 years

Raisins South Africa prioritises social wellbeing and environmental strategies

Raisins South Africa prioritises social …

Raisins South Africa is working to provide environmental integrity and social wellbeing for their local communities in order to ensure future sustainability for the South African dried fruit industry

Surge in Kenyan horticultural earnings

Surge in Kenyan horticultural earnings

Kenya made US$1.1 billion from the flower, fruit, vegetable and nut exports in 2011, according to a report by USAID Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP)

Advance Seed’s Indigi Mix for Southern Africa

Advance Seed’s Indigi Mix for Southern A…

The Indigenous Mix or Indigi Mix of grass product, from Advance Seed, is a blend of six indigenous grasses suitable for use throughout most areas and environments in Southern Africa

Prev Next