Featured Articles July - August 2021
Kenya Flower Industry Global Competitiveness
Changing market conditions
- Direct trade channels, bypassing the Dutch auction system, are on the rise
- Virtualisation of the trade
- Increased competition with Latin America in upcoming direct markets (Russia, Japan)
Post-Harvest Management in Commercial Flower Crops
loriculture has emerged as a viable diversification option in the agri-business. It is a rapidly expanding dynamic industry recording a growth rate of more than 15 per cent per annum in the last two decades. Rapid urbanization, increased income levels and changes in social values resulted in increase of export market for cut flowers. Improvement in the general level of well being and increased affluence particularly among the middle class is also another reason for increase in the volume of local flower market.
The post-harvest behaviour of flowers is an outcome of the physiological processes, occurring in leaves, stem, flower bud, leafless peduncle or scape connecting bud to the stem. Some of these processes may act independently to affect the senescence and vase life of cut flowers but most of them are inter-related. The nature and extent of postharvest damage is typical for each crop or cultivar. The post harvest losses become important especially when dealing with the export of fresh flowers to distant and foreign market. Therefore, patient, soft and expert handling of flowers is of utmost importance after harvest.
New in the FSI Basket: Environmental criteria
Starting 1 January 2021, the FSI Basket of standards has a third scope. The GAP and Social scopes are complemented with an Environmental scope. With IPM and reliable record keeping at the centre, this new scope will offer growers and their supply chain partners capacity to keep the sector future-proof.
It has become evident that reliable record keeping is essential to measure and demonstrate sustainable progress and positive impacts. As new tools like environmental impact indicators and footprints become more widely used, such as the one being developed by FSI, there is urgency to put record keeping in the scope of the FSI Basket. This will offer producers more opportunities to keep their toolbox full, and to proactively demonstrate and discuss with NGO’s, legislators and customers, while remaining the owner of their data.
Vacciplant: Innovative Fungicide Against Powdery Mildew
UPL Ltd has continued to deliver successful product innovations. This time they organised a very successful virtual training on Vacciplant, an innovative Biofungicide against powdery mildew in Ornamental crops and Snowpeas. Timely and almost audio-recorded voice of Lara Ramaekers, a UPL Biosolutions Specialist, greeted the air as she took growers through the innovation.
Speaking to the growers Lara asked, “Have you ever thought of protection against powdery mildew without residue?” Adding, “We are discussing the newest technologies in protection against powdery mildew and other causal pathogens. It allows the grower to reduce the number of active ingredients used, achieve better.
Through the Vaccine action, Vacciplant prompts the plant to fight against the diseases. The product is better used preventively. Lara told the growers that the product has control of various fungal and bacterial diseases with zero residue (0 days PHI). The product poses minimal risk of development of resistance. She confirmed that the product is compatible with both conventional and other biological products. It has no harm to any beneficial organisms and has a unique mode of action. (FRAC Group P4). The product has been approved for organic farming by Ecocert. Vacciplant is also a great tool for successful Integrated Pest Management programs. It is one of the best alternatives for the most demanding food chains and organic growers. It is a complimentary solution to conventional plant protection products.
Hope for mango farmers as exports to Europe resume
Makueni is the leading county in mango production contributing up to 31 per cent of the total fruits that Kenya produces. “Right now the amount exported is two per cent of the total production of 184,000 tonnes produced annually, which is a small fraction,” said Robert Kisyula, the then CEC Agriculture, Makueni.
That mangoes are critical to the economy of Makueni County, is not in doubt. What is worrying is that the devolved unit only exports a paltry two per cent to the world market, missing out on lucrative global business.
Part of the reason for a slow uptake on the export market was because of a selfimposed ban by Kenya in 2010 after experiencing a bout of mango fruit fly that risked Kenya’s produce being banned in Europe, which is its main market before the moratorium. “It was easier to pull out ourselves than being banned by markets in Europe. We hope that we will be able to reopen the EU market this year,” he said.
Mealybugs: Early Intervention is Key to Avoid a Costly Infestation
Mealybugs pose a serious threat to growers in warmer climates as they can significantly reduce the productivity and yield of greenhouse crops. But lessons-learnt from greenhouse rose farms in Kenya demonstrate that it is possible to manage Mealybugs when the right tactics are deployed, such as early intervention supported by an effective scouting system, writes Edwin Kiptarus and Simon Kihungu
Mealybugs have taken on a renewed significance with the recent arrival and rapid spread in Kenya of the Papaya mealybug, Paracoccus marginatus. Although not the same species as the Coffee mealybug, Planococcus kenyae, generally found on roses in Kenya, both are quarantine pests that have the potential to spread viruses along fresh cut flower pathways. Other Species of Mealybugs that affects ornamentals are: Common examples include the long tailed mealybug (Pseudococcus longispinus), which has characteristically long waxy filaments that protrude from the end of the abdomen, and the obscure mealybug (Pseudococcus viburni), which also has waxy filaments, but they are much shorter in comparison to the longtailed mealybug. Citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri), lacks any waxy filaments and has a gray stripe that extends the length of the body. The differences are shown in the image below: