His Excellency Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, Farmer number one for those who grew up in 80s and 90s, a flower farmer and chairman to one of the fastest growing group in the sector, former president and crusader for agriculture as a whole, was promoted to glory on Tuesday, February 4, peacefully. He was 95. All the flowers used during the occasion came from his farms. It was a fitting salute to his dedication, not only to his farms, but to the industry he loved.
True be said, the industry lost an international investor the flower industry, an enthusiastic educator, a devoted volunteer and a friend to many.
The Flower industry is but one of many sectors who will feel an enormous void with Mzee Moi’s passing. “Mzee Moi was a prolific contributor of practical, easily relatable and accurate GAPs, both as government policy and as a farmer. In more than 20 years of working close to Mzee Moi’s farms, they are professionally run and most of the other farms have benefited immensely from their professionality. I have also learnt a lot every time I visit them.
In his nearly 30-year tenure in flower farming, Mzee Moi worked with professionals from every segment of the industry and made connections across several continents. For his dedicated service, he midwifed the sector to the second highest foreign exchange earner when he was the president. He also opened the sector globally to attract the highest Foreign Director Investors.
News of Mzee Moi’s death prompted an outpouring of comments from the numerous friends he made during his fruitful career.
“We knew the end was coming — and I am happy his suffering is no longer — but heaven took one of the best from us,” said a grower who requested anonymity. “I’m thankful for all I learned from him, not only about flowers but also about life. He will be sorely missed.”
“This is a devastating loss for our tight industry,” echoed one of his closest buddies in the sector, who met him early in their life and he went from icon to personal friend.”
“‘Brilliant’ hardly describes his depth and breath of knowledge, which he generously shared,” Sally Kosgei of Zena Roses said. “He was patient with newbies and always had something new to offer experienced growers.”
“Mzee Moi was a tireless worker who knew the backrooms of flower growing better than many investors I knew despite his busy schedule as a president,” said one of the managers who has worked closer to him. “We often knew Mzee can visit the farm anytime, and then he would be there in the morning, mid-morning and evening when his schedule allowed. He was passionate, smart, easy to talk to and always so helpful,” he said. “Truly a beautiful person.”
“Throughout his career, Mzee Moi projected a laser focus on finding ways to deliver a better flower experience to consumers,” he said.
“It’s infrequent that we come across someone with so much passion,” said another grower. “Moi was always digging to get new information and markets that could help the entire industry. We knew we could count on him in addition to his intelligence and ambition, Mzee Moi possessed remarkable wit and kindness, “a special combination of traits,” he said.
Mzee Moi was one of the first black African investors in the flower sector when the industry was still on infancy. By turn of the century, his farms had made a name as some of the first farms to be run by young African graduate managers among the Asian or European-dominated world of growers.
Mzee Moi showed faith in home grown talents and to date this has never betrayed him and most of the other farms followed his footsteps Due to his keen eye, attention to detail and success in working across cultures, he created one of the best run group of farms in the sector.
When he left active politics, he retired to the farms which he frequently visited and mingled with the staff discussing choice of varieties, production and marketing. He never tempered with the day to day running but left it to the professionals he had entrusted the farms to.
Mzee Moi was a strong advocate for the industry, his farms participating on numerous events and attending several exhibitions. They are active with many other industry organizations, such as Kenya Flower Council.
“We lost a valued colleague and a dear friend, Mzee Moi meant a lot to our sector and will be missed greatly worldwide.”
On behalf of growers, clients “and the entire industry,” I say Rest in Peace Farmer No. One. It is a fitting salute to your dedication, not only to your farms, but to the industry you loved.