Featured Past Articles
Dick van Raamsdonk

Dick Van Raamsdonk is the Brain Child of IFTEX and makes a big contribution to Kenya’s flower sector. Growers around the world open their farm gates for him. Buyers around the world pack their briefcases to answer his call. Mr. Masila Kanyingi has been covering him for the last five years and below is a tete-a-tete from different interviews and other researched pieces.

Tell us a little about yourself
Dick van Raamsdonk (59 years) graduated from Eindhoven University of Applied Sciences, after which he studied Economics at the University of Amsterdam. After that, he briefly worked for the World Flower Trade Center in Leiden. A little later, he started his own business.

Tell us about your Family
I have a young family as well of three young children, who keep me up at night on a regular basis.

What does your job entail
Established in 1984, HPP Exhibitions has already 33 years of experience in organizing trade exhibitions all over the world. It has organized more than 180 exhibitions in 35 countries.

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Arima:The New Tough But Friendly Miticide

Lawns and Gardens Business Manager Mr. Victor Juma doing his presention during the Launch.Ornamental crop production is a specialized business centred on the beauty of flowers and attention to detail to deliver perfect results. Syngenta has reinforced its commitment to the global ornamentals business to support sustainable businesses through a close collaboration with ornamental growers. Increasingly, Syngenta is providing the ornamentals growers with the ability to introduce integrated pest management in their crop and address the need of their customers to meet leading certifications schemes.

The registration of Arima opens the door to a unique miticide that will improve Syngenta miticide offer to ornamental growers in both Kenya and Ethiopia.Cyenopyrafen, the active ingredient in Arima® miticide, is classified in IRAC Group 25 and belongs to the beta-ketonitrile class of chemistry. It is highly effective against Tetranychid mites (spider mites), Tetranychus urticae and T.evansiat a low use rate of 600ml/ ha. The product safeguards against crop damage by controlling spider mites during all life stages – eggs, nymphs and adults in roses, carnations and other ornamentals grown in greenhouses or outdoors when used as foliar applications. Arima has a favourable toxicological profile and is safe to several non-target and beneficial organisms such as Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius spp.

“Syngenta is passionately committed to partnering with growers and industry partners to develop innovative solutions that result in more marketable produce. With Arima, growers have an economical solution that will enhance quality and yield of ornamental plants for demanding markets” These were remarks made by Mr Victor Juma, Lawn and Garden Business Manager at Syngenta during an interview with this magazine.He further added that Arima is highly compatible with biological controls and has a proven high efficacy against spider mites due to its quick knockdown and long lasting activity.

In a discussion with Mr Charles Njuki, a farm manager at Kingfisher farm, Naivasha, prior to the launch of Arima, he recalled that several growers have adopted the use of biological control agents for spider mites control and there is an increasing need to have several compatible options to complement the current solutions. His colleague, Mr Peter Mwangi, a farm manager at Flamingo Farm, Naivasha, also reiterated that newer pesticide chemistries give growers an advantage in terms of rotation and resistance management. “The market is ready for Arima. It seems there is a renewed focus by Syngenta to fill in the gap we currently have for miticides. Newer and innovative solutions will definitely help us have better mites control and a good resistance management programs. Additionally, the crop safety aspect of Arima makes it a valuable tool to guarantee high quality roses ”, these were remarks made by Mr. Attanus Mutiso, production manager at AAA Growers, Chui farm, during the successful launch of Arima in Nanyuki.

Both growers and distributors were well representedMore than 25 growers drawn from different agro-ecological zones participated in Arima demonstration trials to test the product attributes first hand prior to product launch. The comprehensive Trial results were presented by Ms Margaret Njambi, Technical Manager, Lawn and Garden East Africa. The trial results indicated consistent results across all regions and farms, with a good knockdowneffect observed within 6 hours after application, long residual activity of more than 35 days, excellent crop safety, andcompatibility with several biological control agents. In his speech, Mr Marcel Breedeveld, Syngenta Lawn and Garden Development Team Lead for Europe, Africa and Middle East, advised growers to follow good application techniques to maximize the product activity and also emphasised on the need to rotate Arima with miticides from different modes of action to reduce the development of resistance.

The well-organized launch events in Nanyuki, Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru and Eldoret were well attended by growers and other industry stakeholders. While giving a vote of thanks on behalf of growers who attended the product launch in Nakuru, Mr Andrew Wambua, General Manager, Molo River Roses, asked growers, “What exactly does a grower need if not better quality and yield?” He further added, “If a grower has a product like Arima which guarantees a longer residual effect of more than 35 days, then this directly translates into improved profitability for growers due to additional savings from chemical sprays and other costs related to chemical applications”.

 
Botrytis And Downy Mildew Malady: Liberate Your Rose Crop

By Joseph Muita

Every flower stem counts hence successful farmers are smart to maximize yields through crop protection. Do you?

Downy Mildew is one of the major fungal challenges to the floriculture industry whose control budget is about 20% of the total pesticide value. It occurs rapidly and the effect on the quality of roses is irreversible and the loss is irreparable.

Once it takes hold, it will defoliate a plant very rapidly. While total defoliation does not immediately kill a plant as would, say, an accidental application of an herbicide, its loss of photosynthesizing ability stresses and weakens the plant to a degree that it becomes totally unproductive, a situation from which it may never recover. Downy is extremely contagious and will spread throughout your rose garden quickly if left untreated, laying waste to all the plants within a very short time.

Botrytis is also an important disease commonly known as Grey Mold which changes during its life cycle from being saprophytic to parasitic and acknowledged for considerably reducing marketable quality of roses. Botrytis has high potential of developing resistance as a result of indecorous usage of pesticides.

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Towards A seamless Kenya-Netherlands flower chain

KLM, Royal FloraHolland, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol are reinforcing the air bridge between Kenya and the Netherlands, joining forces to ensure that the Aalsmeer-Schiphol region remains the world’s top flower-trading centre.

The goal of the Holland Flower Alliance (HFA) is to realise a seamless chain that will ensure the highest product quality and fastest transport times in the most cost-efficient way. The Alliance is currently focusing on Schiphol’s most significant flower-importing country: Kenya.

Marcel Claessen, Chief Operating Officer at Royal FloraHolland, recognises the vital importance of a seamless flower chain. “Our business is becoming increasingly global. Products are travelling ever-greater distances to arrive in the Netherlands, with the distribution areas becoming increasingly diffuse. Europe and its neighbouring countries used to be our primary market, but now markets further afield are growing in importance.

“If we want to ensure that Dutch growers and export companies maintain their leading role in the future, we will need to participate in the right initiatives – such as this cooperation.”

Extending vase life
The EVP of KLM Cargo, Marcel de Nooijer, explains: “The aspect known as ‘vase life’ is crucial to the rose trade. From the moment the product begins its journey to the customer, time and temperature are the components that will determine the product’s value. The more effectively organised the chain is, the longer the vase life will be – and the higher the value.’ To achieve this goal, the three partners are focusing on two key areas for improvement:

Defining and setting up the ideal chain. The various logistical links must flow seamlessly into one another. The HFA aims to define the ideal chain, from the grower in Kenya to the flower auction in Aalsmeer. In particular, measures to improve the cool chain will be examined, along with ways to standardise flower packaging.

IT integration via an independent data platform to which all players in the chain are connected. Through this platform, the parties can keep one another informed and access information. Everyone will have insight into the status of each shipment. This will allow all links in the chain to arrange their logistics processes more effectively, while also reducing waiting times.

Real-time monitoring
Supporting the efforts is FlowerWatch, working from its offices in the Netherlands, Kenya, and Japan to take the lead in quality control. The chains are monitored using temperature data loggers, as it is important to be able to analyse the chain retrospectively.

When you have real-time certainty that the cooling units throughout the entire chain are working properly, it means you can be sure that partners are living up to their promises – each and every day.

Together, three businesses with Dutch roots – Bexter in the Netherlands and Upande, and FlowerWatch in Kenya – have rolled out a real-time monitoring network that offers insight into the performance of the cool chain at all times.

Toon de Jong, co-owner of Bexter, designed the online platform with his team and is currently expanding the network at the European end of the chain.

Mark de Blois, CEO of Upande, supplies and maintains the hardware and works on new sensors.

Jeroen van der Hulst from FlowerWatch works to achieve optimal performance in the flower chains.

Preparation phase completed
Although the development of new technology offers huge opportunity in a rapidly-growing economy such as Kenya’s, it also provides a number of challenges. Now that the preparation phase has been completed, the three partners are looking to the future with confidence. Mark de Blois, CEO of Upande in Kenya says, “Today, thanks to the online integration of countless sensors, Flower Watch is in a position to allow its customers to take decisions based on real-time data. In terms of the potential of these developments, what we’re seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg.” Jeroen van der Hulst predicts, “In just fifteen years, the flower industry has become globalised. While the Netherlands is still the physical hub of the trade, the networks outside of the Netherlands are growing rapidly. This is our chance to help the business mature – it’s no longer about being the first one to tap a new market or introduce a new cultivar. Today, it’s about making our chains operate more efficiently than others.”

Flower transport by sea
Each day, millions of cut flowers – mostly roses from Kenya – are transported to the Netherlands by air. Travel by sea freight would reduce the CO2 footprint of each rose considerably, and it would be cheaper as well. Anton Bril (VGB) explains the drawback, “The challenge is keeping the flowers fresh for three weeks during transport, so that the vase life on the consumer side doesn’t suffer.”

In March, research partners VGB and Wageningen UR wrapped up the GreenCHAINge project. During the project, four sea freight journeys were carried out and a new sea freight protocol for roses was developed. The primary focus was on improvements that could lead to a decrease in post-harvest losses.

This partnership between commercial parties and research centres Royal FloraHolland, Wageningen UR, Flora Life, Chrysal, and Flower Watch was unique and allowed for the development and testing of a comprehensive protocol for the entire sector.

Feasible protocol
The protocol is based on two principles: high quality and feasibility.

By ensuring the correct preparation and a proper cool chain at the start of transport, the quality of the roses is suitable for ocean freight.

The protocol has been designed in such a way that rose growers can comply with it without the help of an adviser.

An ocean freight box with standard dimensions has been developed in addition to the protocol. This standard freight box has been designed for optimal loading into a 40-foot reefer container. A matrix for the loading ratio has also been established, so that the trader knows exactly how many roses should go in a box for ideal loading. The effects of ventilation holes, bags and liners have also been tested in order to find the right balance in the microclimate to prevent the fungal infection Botrytis cinerea whilst also avoiding dehydration of the roses.

The last container was exposed to freezing temperatures, meaning that these are all the clear conclusions on what constitutes ‘ideal packaging’ we have for now.

 
IFTEX: Ensuring Market Consolidation and Diversity

For the sixth year in a row, Kenya is set to host the International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX), slated for June 7-9 at the Oshwal Centre, Parklands, Nairobi.

PS Dr. Richard Lesiyampe visit KEPHIS StandCurrently, IFTEX is at par with other important flower exhibitions organized by HPP which include World Floral Expo (USA), Agriflor (Quito, Ecuador), and the International Floriculture Trade Fair (Vijfhuizen, Holland), all that are key activities in the flower industry calendar. Since IFTEX opened its doors here in 2012, there has been a steady pattern of target visitors. Kenya’s flowers are a sensation in the US going by the interest the Kenya pavilion attracted during the World Floral Expo in Las Vegas (US) held early this year. This year’s show comes amidst renewed focus in the country following the classification of JKIA to Category A status enabling direct flights to the US from Nairobi. The two make US the main target this year.

It has been costly and lengthy to ship the country’s flowers to the world’s biggest market after the EU. “Owing to the availability of the flights, we expect more American buyers in Nairobi next month going by confirmed visits and increasing inquiries”, says Dick Van Raamsdonk. Nobody can deny the fact that in this year’s show the catchphrase will be, “Buyers from America’’.

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The Success Story of AAA Roses Premium Kenyan Roses

Bellissima’s exclusive assortment of roses have large flower-heads of average 6cm and long sturdy stems of average 80cm – 100cm.

Mt Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak, forms an imposing background while majestically staring down at the idyllic expanse of Timau near Nanyuki in Kenya. It is amidst this picturesque setting that Chui Farm, the newest venture by AAA Growers is located. Chui Farm produces some of the most exclusive and exceptional Kenyan roses under the brand name Bellissima; which fittingly translates to “Gorgeous Lady” in Italian.

Bellisssima premium Kenyan roses are unpacked and sold through auction in Europe by Flower Optimal Connection and direct sales to other parts of the world. Flower Optimal has many years experience offering strategic solutions and efficient unpacking services to growers from Kenya, Ethiopia, Israel and other countries. The farm currently has 20 hectares under production with a further 10 hectare expansion under development and projected to be operational before the close of 2017.

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One Region; Many Facets

Mt. Kenya region is extremely scenic with the escarpment giving way to dramatic wooded gorges and tangled riverine thickets. Behind the scenery flower farming is a big business. Maurice Koome Writes.

Due to the diverse range of habitats, Laikipia hosts an abundance of wildlife, second only to the Masai Mara in Kenya. It has significant populations of predators and also the “big five”, with over 50% of Kenya’s Black and White Rhinos, thousands of elephants, about 25% of the world’s Grevy Zebras, and an increasing population of Wild Dogs. The focus of wildlife viewing here is in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

More than great Scenery
When I first met Mr. Kanyingi, Editor Floriculture Magazine in one of our product launches at a Nanyuki Hotel, he was full of lamentations. “Mt. Kenya is more than Snowy Mountain”, I answered. “Yes I know, it is the most accessible, and popular with Johnnies. The Timau and Nanyuki triangle is characterised by diverse landscapes, rolling hills interrupted by rocky outcrops intricately merged into beautiful scenery reminiscent of a canvas painting.

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