By Mary Mwende Mbithi
South Africa’s founding father, Nelson Mandela, once said, ‘Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead…’ and indeed Porini Premium Flowers has every reason to celebrate as they mark a Decade since the start of operations!
Ten years ago, in the peripheral region of Olenguruone, Molo in Nakuru County, what began as a noble idea was ultimately propelled into a reality. The inception of Porini Premium Flowers was a beautiful milestone for the founders of Isinya Roses Ltd, which by then was ten years old having started in the year 2001.
Porini, a Swahili word that means ‘wild,’ became the little sister to Isinya roses. And just like the wild flowers, ‘You must allow yourself to grow in all places people thought you never would;’ Porini Premium Flowers has continued to bloom in all aspects, bringing a new face to the flower industry. Last year, Porini turned a decade old, her sister farm Isinya Roses turned two decades old.
Evidently, Porini Premium Flowers demystifies and countermands the axiom that, ‘the youth are the leaders of tomorrow’. Presently, there is an apparent touch of youth in leadership right under the competent stewardship of Sakthivel who takes the helm of Porini Premium Flowers as the Farm Manager.
It is vivid that the farm is flourishing, a clear indication that the management is wholly top notch. Despite his youthful age, Sakthivel takes the mantle of this expansive farm depicting an intelligent, brilliant and an industrious servant leader. His astuteness is reflected in his ability to manage a vast flower farm with such unwavering boldness.
As Sakthivel explicates, Porini Premium Flowers has been a blossom of grandeur. It is a prime flower farm in Kenya which was founded with an aim of growing top-tier, consistent and premium quality roses.
Initially the farm spanned to about 26.5 hectares rose farm and a 2 hectares carnations farm that stands at an altitude of 2,865 meters above sea level, thus making it the only farm in Kenya at such a high altitude. Porini is renowned for long stems and large blooms.
As of now, the farm covers 40 hectares; with 60% of it under Red Roses and 40% under rainbow coloured Roses. Plans of expansion in the coming years are still underway which will include diversification to fruit farming i.e. (blueberries-4ha and Avocado- 45 ha).
Why Molo was Ideal to Set-Up Porini Farm?
According to Mr. Sakthivel, Molo was an ideal place for the flower farm because the land was easily available and cheap. It was also a virgin land with vegetative soils as well as natural light all year round.
The land was also located near a perennial river thus availability of enough water. With an altitude of 2,865 meters above sea level, it was ascertained that Roses grown at high altitudes had a much longer growing cycle than those cultivated at lower altitude, up to 15 weeks as opposed to eight, so it was ideal for the long-stemmed varieties with big heads.
Again, the cold nights meant that you get a lot of bicolours, with contrasting hues on the edges and the insides of petals, which are very sought after in certain markets.
Porini Premium Flowers has laid out universal responsibility including management, guidelines on GAPS, minimal use of pesticides and fertilizers, environmental policy, social responsibility as well as staff welfare.
The farm undertakes regular in-house audits in order to identify and assess any risk on constant basis and arrange a time bound action plan.
Porini Premium Flowers adheres to the overall objective of reduction of pesticide usage and responsible usage. This is done through the predetermined guidelines in the company’s policy and statutory regulations. Application of pesticides is determined by scouting and identification.
Spot spraying with the environmentally-friendly pesticides unlike blanket spraying is observed. There is practice of remedial measures accurately and timely in crop protection to reduce the effects to the environment. Scouts are taken through an in house training to keep them in the knowhow of all the diseases and pests found in cut flowers.
For safety, spray application and implements are well taken care of through correct calibration to ensure that chemicals are applied at recommended rates. During spraying, it’s mandatory for sprayers to dress in pertinent protective gear such as goggles, respirators, impermeable gloves, overalls, gumboots and headgear.
Porini Premium Flowers is geared towards chemical and fertilizer cutback as well as better flower quality through water conservation techniques Feeding is done as per requirement.
Porini uses a number of chemicals and fertilizers. Handling these fertilizers determines their quality and effective usage. The operational policy is “First in First out” to ascertain that expired chemicals are excluded for use.
Water Usage Water is the heartbeat of the flower sector. Production of quality flowers requires one to use water sustainably. This is achieved through, installing water meters, rotors, sprays, valves and central control systems, to offer a range of technical enhancements for improved water management. Spray heads and valves have water saving regulators. Moreover, Porini Premium Flowers collects all rain water in a dam.
This is a very fundamental part of the quality control of the flower production. In this stage, flowers are graded according to their quality before being packed for export. Poor quality flowers are discarded as part of waste.
Waste separation and Re-use There are five major sources of Flower waste grouped as follows;
- The crop residue that are composted and used as manure on the farm.
- The polythene material that makes the greenhouses that are sold to a NEMA approved contractor for recycling.
- The drip irrigation tubing, which are also sold to contractors for re-use.
- The chemical containers, which are hazardous in nature, they are sold to Environmental and Combustion Consultants Ltd.
- The waste papers from office are sent to recycling companies.
Porini Premium Flowers ensures the safety of their operations to the environment. They ensure continuous improvement on the impact of environment by operations and processes.
Therefore they have developed innovative products and processes that have less impact on environment. This is accomplished through, reducing waste, conserving water and energy and exploring opportunities for recycling, in order to reduce and prevent pollution.
To attain these, the farm evaluates the environmental effects from the new and modified processes at design stage. The estimations cover wholly the life cycle. They ensure that environmental incidents are reported, investigated and remedial measures put in place.
The farm monitors and operates within legislative requirements and standards by ensuring their environmental objectives, targets and performances are periodically reviewed. They also encourage their suppliers to develop environmentally superior Processes and cooperate with other members of the supply chain to improve overall environmental performance. Porini has also planted a forest as a way of environmental.
Porini grows 16 varieties of T-Hybrid Roses (60% Red Roses and 40% Rainbow colours Roses). They grow Premium Roses of about 6.5+ cm -7cm with stems of about 50cm – 100cm. Porini is at 60% direct market and 40% auction market. According to Mr. Sakthivel, Porini Premium Flowers main market is in Australia, but also exports to Russia and the Gulf.
Porini Premium Flowers values their staff and is committed to continuous training and investment in their development. They are well packaged with incentives, housing allowance, medical care and other welfare facilities.
Porini has created jobs both directly and indirectly as they purpose to offer a safe, hygienic and healthy working environment. They also provide adequate and appropriate protective gear.
Those among the staff who work in the cold rooms and spraying have their heavy jackets. Upon engagement all sprayers undergo a cholesterol level test and regular others after hire. Sprayers are interspersed regularly for health purposes. They also undergo regular internal and external trainings.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Just as the maxim that, ‘Businesses cannot be successful when the society around them fails,’ Porini Premium Flowers is actively involved in CSR. The community is reaping from the services rendered by Porini Premium Flowers. According to Sakthivel, the farm has so far planted numerous trees (about 50%) around the farm which have become home to varieties of birdlife, adding a natural life to the farm.