Improved Sustainability Performance in the Floriculture Value Chain

Ruth Vaughan of Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services (CNLS) made the case for identifying the root cause of production deficit, and prescribing corrective actions so as to increase production and to allow sustainable production, which would guarantee the farmer a profit for his activities. Mr. Jeroen van der Hulst of Flower Watch told the conference that there has been little innovation on supply chain performance over 50 years. However, the situation is now changing because cold chain is measurable. There is improved packaging and improved product and quality handling. For instance, Kenya flowers can now go for over 14 days without getting spoilt. Yet there is still room for improvement in shelf life, more efficiency in handling and new transport modes can be developed. He said with application of available tools the producer can increase his productivity and reduce his losses.

Making a presentation on the wellness and productivity of workers, James Steady, Associate at Business for Social Responsibility enumerated how BSR programmes promote health, financial inclusion, and gender equality in the workplace. He said their programmes have had a positive and long-lasting and meaningful impact for workers, workplaces, and brands involved with their HERproject. This had helped to create sustainable change, and fostered systemic change that continues to deliver dignified work for empowered women in global supply chains. Secondary outcomes from HERhealth programme activities relate to a sense of self, negotiating powers at home and at work, and contributions toward household decision-making. He said that by companies implementing their programmes, there would be enhanced communications in the work place, reduced maintenance costs, reduced compliance violations, increased utilization of employer-provided services, e.g. clinics, and increased worker responsibility.

Mr. Andrew Ondete from HIVOS, said there was a linkage between workers’ welfare and their productivity. Workers whose welfare is catered for have more outlay and output, they will not sabotage the organization and will defend the interests of the company. This will lead to less labor movement, little confrontation, and minimal costs in compensation. It guarantees a good name and reputation. The good reputation which in turns brings credit, goodwill from suppliers, the market and consumers. Healthy workers have more output, they absent themselves less and targets are met when they are in tip-top condition.

Ms. Grace Kyalo from the Horticultural Crop Directorate (HCD) said the directorate encourages compliance of KS 1758 Part I &II, and National Horticulture Traceability System. This will make it easy to regulate, develop and promote the agricultural sector in Kenya. She called growers, exporters and other players in the sector to comply with rules and standards. She said one of the requirements for players, especially exporters, is to ensure that they are registered for their operations, and part of the requirement for this registration is compliance with standards and regulations, either national or international. The plan is to eventually, after all players are sensitized, to make it mandatory for exporters and producers to comply with KS1758 as a basic standard.

The other requirement the directorate plans to implement is on the national traceability system to ensure that all producers or exporters use a traceability mechanism.

Mr. Okisegere Ojepat from the Fresh Producer Exporters Association of Kenya/Kenya Horticultural Council said fruits and vegetable industry in the country is dominated by small-holder farmers operating under FPEAK. He said the players had recently formed an umbrella organization, Kenya Horticultural Council, which brings together the Kenya Flower Council and Fresh Producer Exporters Association of Kenya, to fight for the interest of the players in the sector while dealing with the government and other development partners. He assured those present that the industry has put things together to engage formally with the regulator and other concerned parties.

Responding to concerns from participants, Ms. Grace Kyalo said the traceability mechanism has been positioned along the whole value chain and it would improve safety, and give confidence to the regulation over the system. Its scope has been expanded so that producers can deliver services more efficiently and to reduce the erosion of profits for the flower industry as a whole.

To deal with issues of sexual harassment, participants suggested the adoption of policies that encourage the development of a culture that bears zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace, through effective training programmes that targets all workers, including managers. The KFC said issues of sexual harassment have reduced drastically over the years and there has been constructive engagement between the Council and the NGOs that defend the rights of workers.