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The Green Farming and Chase Bank signed a partnership Agreement. “Chase Bank is looking to target the one billion shilling horticultural sector as it braces for its next phase of growth” , said Chase Bank Business Development Director Ken Ouko. With the close cooperation between the consortium of Dutch private partners with local partners, the aim is to improve local entrepreneurship in Kenya in field of food security and food safety for all types of farms: large, mid and small-scaled.

Many small-scale farmers share the common challenge of little to no access to finance, and thus technology to maximize their business potential. With the cooperation between Chase Bank and Green Farming, small-scale horticultural farmers now can gain easy access to financial services, and applicable greenhouse technology, support and training from Green Farming partners Bosman - Van Zaal, Hoogendoorn Growth Management, PDI and DVL Plant.

Moreover, farmers are able to profit from accessing the domestic market under ‘Growing Solutions Kenya’, which is a program managed by Green Farming. In turn, Kenyan farmers will achieve better growth yields, improve the quality of their crop and thus receive better prices at the market. Green Farming works together with Kenyan partners to find sustainable solutions adapted to the Kenyan climate and economic circumstances.

This partnership with Chase Bank enables us to tie together financial and technical aspects of our project to ensure their success,” said chairman of Green Farming Harm Maters. With the proof of concept complete and commencement of business development phase of the program, Chase Agri will leverage on the program to target, SME horticulture Growers, to finance the acquisition and implementation of the greenhouse packages.

“As a bank, we cherish strategic partnerships that help us satisfy the ever changing needs of our customers. We believe this partnership will be useful to our current and prospective customers in the agricultural sector by creating added value for horticulture entrepreneurs through the continuous marketing of innovative and contemporary services and products,” said Mr. Ouko.

“Our strategy included working closely with partners in the horticulture industry who offer technical support, optimal inputs and access to market such as the one we have signed with Green Farming,” he added.

With mothers day approaching it’s the perfect time to look at what could help you boost your sales for the upcoming season. But does color sell plants?

A simple answer would be yes and no. But this not much help with deciding what colors you should focus on displaying. Research would suggest a number of reasons why consumers will select certain colors. It could be based on seasonal ideals, so when you think of this you would generally lean towards pastel muted colors even veering on towards the warmer yellow tones for a splash of brightness; think Easter and daffodils. But what else? There must be other factors that will influence color choices other than the typical seasonal selections. Well there can be, and this is where it gets a little more complicated.

Research will tell you that color selection is often based on personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences and so forth, often muddying the effect individual colors have on us.

However, if you are to examine the color preferences between men and women, as done in Joe Hallock’s Color Assignments, you get a rough idea of colors that are most universally appealing. Although there are apparent differences between gender choices there are also glaring similarities. For example, both men and women most preferred blue, green, orange and red in similar amounts. The same can be said for least preferred colors between the both being brown, orange and yellow. Another example shows that men prefer bright toned colors whereas women prefer softer toned colors. Obviously this diagram lacks the broad spectrum of colors available in the flowers you could possibly sell, and again it is all down to consumer personal preference.



Another factor that influences color choices is seasons, whether that is the typical colours associated with the season or dependent on the varieties that are available. Most gardeners planning for spring are looking forward to bursts of colors that are uplifting after a cold and dreary winter. Think of those yellow daffodils again!



People like choices. It’s a fact. But too much choice will often overwhelm a consumer, which is why presenting consumers with only the most popular colors is usually the way to go. But it’s still important to provide enough of a selection that people feel like they can express themselves individually.



Even in the floral industry there are trends set for the year of what will be the most popular colors. Consumers want to be individual but also to be socially accepted by others and will often follow trends set in the industry. The Netherlands is the trendsetter when it comes to determining the popular color of the season. For example, in the beginning of this season you should plan to include a variety of purple shades. Of course this just touches the surface, as there are numerous factors that go into trendsetting, and trends can bleed over from other industries such as the fashion world.


What should you do?

You should aim to have a varied selection of colors to choose from as male and female color preferences vary so greatly. Consider what time of year consumers are buying, the most popular trends set for the year and the type of consumer that you sell to the most. Bear in mind there is no definitive right or wrong answer to color choices!

As the air cargo industry is gearing up, newer markets in Latin America and Africa are opening up for exports. And Europe still continues to be a major importer of this commodity. The flower industry is very crucial to air cargo. Probably, because it is one of the few commodities that can still provide positive margins to the business.

“On average, we see an increase in production of 3-5 percent per year, which is higher than the global growth levels. It is important to mention that the industry continues to innovate on for example growing methods or packaging. It also continues to innovate and explore new species to be produced,” says Pieter Fopma, Air France-KLM cargo director for perishables.

The report that Kenya has lost a share of its global horticultural market over the past five years should send the national and county authorities back to the drawing board. The national government should take the first step of convening a meeting involving all industry stakeholders including farmers, exporters, inputs suppliers,  inspection agencies and financiers. This meeting should slowly come up with a blue print that would guide the industry over the short-and mid-term period.


This meeting would be mandated to come up with solutions on all the challenges currently holding back the sub-sector whose valiant efforts have so far managed to wrest only 1.23 per cent of the global market share. The source of funding for initiatives dealing with these problems would also have to be identified. This might mean a mandatory invitation of the country’s development partners currently involved in the sub-sector including the European Union and United States Agency for International Development (USAid).


Over Reliance

Top on the list of the challenges facing the sub-sector is over-reliance on one or two markets. This explains why there was a near panic last year when the EU imposed new import taxes on the local produce following a failure by both parties to sign a new trade protocol in time. These near-cardiac arrests could have been avoided had the country got other major outlets.


Entire value chain

Second, ways should be devised to increase the value of the country’s exports both in terms of per capita and per hectare. Interestingly, this is an area currently dominated by Morocco and Egypt, countries that depend on irrigation as opposed to Kenya which is still wedded to rain-fed agriculture despite its increasing unreliability due to the unfolding, but little understood, climatic changes.

Morocco and Egypt, both arid countries, last year, exported goods valued at $132 (Sh12,012) and $69 (Sh6,279) per capita respectively while Kenya managed a paltry $8 (Sh728) worth of produce per capita. Clearly, there is an urgent need to review the entire value chain beginning with the land preparation, the choice of crop to plant, inputs to use and the export/local market.


Cost of Inputs

Third, the review would point the way forward on the cost of inputs which are not only high in the region—compared to prices in Uganda and Tanzania— but are still higher when compared to the country’s major competitors in, and outside, Africa.
While addressing this issue, farmers would be encouraged to move into higher value crops such as avocadoes, apples and passion fruits which are particularly in high demand in Europe where the crops do not do well because of the region’s weather patterns. It’s a sad reality that despite commanding good prices, expansion of land is held back by the small-holder farmers’ lack of credit and market.



Fourth, the national government would need to take a keen interest in the transport logistics of these crops especially on the route from the farm to Mombasa. The current situation whereby it costs as much to take a container from Nairobi to Mombasa as from the same port to Rotterdam, Holland is inexcusable. It is a hurdle that must be removed fast.



Fifth, the continued lack of branding of Kenyan produce is yet another scandal that should not be allowed to go on much longer. The shame of exporting local potatoes and fresh beans as Irish and French should jolt the country’s marketers into action. Nothing should be allowed to hold these efforts back. Not now or ever.

As the air cargo industry is gearing up, newer markets in Latin America and Africa are opening up for exports. And Europe still continues to be a major importer of this commodity. The flower industry is very crucial to air cargo. Probably, because it is one of the few commodities that can still provide positive margins to the business.

“On average, we see an increase in production of 3-5 percent per year, which is higher than the global growth levels. It is important to mention that the industry continues to innovate on for example growing methods or packaging. It also continues to innovate and explore new species to be produced,” says Pieter Fopma, Air France-KLM cargo director for perishables.

Demand for flowers usually originates from Africa and South America. But in the African region, the focus has been shifting away from traditional markets like Kenya. It was announced that Kenya’s neighbouring country Ethiopia is planning to increase its revenue from the export of horticulture products to $371 million during 2014-15 fiscal year, compared to $245 million in the previous year. Logistics companies are now witnessing an increasing shift of flower exports from Ethiopia than its other African counterparts.

The South African flower industry has also been developing steadily over the past few decades across segments like Greenhouse flowers such as roses, foliage and fynbos such as proteas. “The market moves in line with normal business cycles and is affected by other factors that influence consumer demand,” says Saxen van Coller, CEO of Dube TradePort.

Meanwhile the Latin American flower trade continues to be important to carriers across Europe and in North America. “Indeed, at current rates we can expect volumes from the two key flower markets – Colombia and Ecuador – to increase says Rodrigo Casal, VP Commercial, LATAM at IAG Cargo. He further adds that the shape of the market has changed: while the overall trade in flowers from Colombia and Ecuador into Europe has remained flat -with Holland, at 80 per cent by far the biggest regional importer-there has been significant industry growth to Asia, especially China and Japan, and the Middle East.

“Our strongest flows originate in Colombia and Ecuador and terminate in Spain and the UK. As our hub airports, it makes sense that Heathrow and Madrid lead demand for this commodity.” For combined shipments from Colombia and Ecuador the carrier will reach 14 percent ahead of last year. “Flowers make up close to 17 per cent of our total Latin America business. It is therefore an important flow for what is becoming one of our strongest competitive differentiators: our exceptional connectivity between Europe and the lucrative economies of Latin America.”

Though demand for flowers has always been concentrated around peak events such as Valentine’s Day, All Saints Day, the end of year festivities and Mother’s Day, Casal explains that this trend will continue and make it more important than ever for retailers to be able to effectively manage their stock. “Air cargo is effective in this respect as it allows retailers to respond rapidly to changes in demand, ensuring they don’t lose revenue through excess stock or stock shortfalls.”

The Colombian and Ecuadorian flower industries will no doubt continue to grow into its natural markets of the USA and Latin America. When it comes to Europe, however, the picture is less clear and will depend largely on costs, volume growth and competition from other source markets such as Africa. However, any losses here could be offset by continued growth in the Asian market.

American Airlines Cargo has also witnessed a positive trend for their flower traffic from Colombia and Ecuador. The carrier transports on average 6,000 tonnes of flowers a year throughout their network. “These volumes make it clear that we have a strong focus on this commodity. We believe that our joint network with US Airways and our international growth to the largest world’s markets will drive significant growth in our flower volumes,” says MD Cargo Sales MCLA, American Airlines Cargo.

Last year, AA Cargo introduced daily services from Dallas to Hong Kong and as well as to Shanghai. This followed new services to Campinas, Brazil and also announced new services to Beijing and Frankfurt. “American’s focus on introducing ‘new services’ to preserve the quality of the flower to the final destination will remain key”, explains Taylor.

AA Cargo has also invested in coolers in major hubs such as Miami, Dallas, Los Angles, Chicago, New York, London and Philadelphia. As part of the airline’s strategy to be innovative, it has also introduced new protective material that shippers can use as part of the packaging.

“The material protects flowers from sunrays as well as from rain during transit to/from warehouses and the aircraft,” assures Taylor.

Even though AA Cargo widely caters to the US market, it has been extremely successful at maximising its network by focusing on the traffic to the European markets as well as targeting new destinations in Asia such as Japan and Korea. “This has allowed us to deliver higher yields than what the USA importers are willing to pay.”

For the airline, European destinations still remain strong, particularly London, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Milan, and Barcelona where it offers a significant choice of schedules via various hubs. Overall it looks like Europe will continue to be the main driver for demand for the exports of flowers. But Russia has considerably shown less interest over the past months, especially with the collapse of the Ruble.

“With strict money transfer measures that are currently in place, it increases the costs to do business. Ruble has lost around 40 percent versus the dollar so far in 2014. Needless to say that we are closely monitoring the developments,” says Fopma of AF-KLM. For South Africa’s there are traditional markets and established trading partners such as The UK and Netherlands. “There are also emerging markets such as Russia and the Far East. These markets are driven by factors such as price competitiveness, quality and vase life of products and consistency of supply,” adds Coller.

It was pomp and dance as flower growers welcomed the entry of a first class nematicide for ornamental products. The launch came with an almost audio recorded oratory of Marcel Breedeveld, Product development Manager, Europe Africa Middle East, Lawn and Gardens not previously heard in Kenya.

In a more theatrical way, Mr. Breedeveld said, “In today’s growing environment- with constantly shifting social, economical, environmental and market priorities, every grower would vote for a product with significant crop enhancement effects through increased root mass and greening effect on leaves. In addition it should lead to more vigorous, healthier and higher yielding crops”.


Most adult thrips are about 1 - 2 mm long, slender insects that possess piercing-sucking mouthparts. Barely visible to the naked eye, they have long fringes on the margins of both pairs of their long, narrow wings. Their juveniles (called nymphs) are slender and elongate and lack wings. Most thrips range in colour from translucent white or yellowish to dark brown or black. Out of the more than 6,000 species of thrips, the western flower thrips (WFT) tops the ‘least wanted’ list among flower growers worldwide as the most damaging and hardest to control.



Knowledge of thrips biology and damage are important in understanding the challenges associated with developing a sound management programme. A thrips life cycle consists of an egg stage, two nymphal stages, two pupal stages, and an adult. The life cycle generally takes two to three weeks to complete. This, however, is temperature dependent with the optimum range between 26oC and 29oC during which the life cycle may be completed in 7 to 13 days. Adult females can live for up to 45 days laying 150-300 eggs.

Thrips management is extremely difficult due to several biological characteristics. Thrips eggs are inserted into leaf or petal tissue and are thus protected from insecticides. The eggs hatch into nymphs which usually remain protected in flower buds or foliage terminals. They pass through two nymphal stages, both of which feed in these protected areas. Toward the end of the second nymphal stage, the insects stop feeding and move down into the soil or leaf litter to pupate. The thrips pass through two ‘pupal’ stages (prepupal and pupal), during which no feeding and little movement occurs. While in these pupal stages in the soil, they are protected from insecticides directed at the crop

Adults emerge from the soil and feed in protected areas of the plant such as flowers and terminals. Adults fly readily and can be carried on wind currents or on clothing to greenhouses near infested fields. They can fly from sprayed to unsprayed areas or move in or out of a greenhouse through doors or vents.



Thrips nymphal and adult stages feed by piercing plant cells with their mouthparts and sucking out the cellular contents. The damage to plant cells can result in deformation of flowers, leaves, and shoots. There is often silvery streaking and flecking on expanded leaves. Thrips often deposit tiny greenish-black faecal specks on leaves when they feed. Crops with high levels of Nitrogen are attacked more due to abundance of amino acids and proteins; female’s productivity is also enhanced. Besides direct feeding damage, the western flower thrips has the ability to cause indirect damage by transmitting the tospoviruses: impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) and tomato spotted wilt virus (TMSV) to a wide variety of greenhouse plants. Both direct and indirect damage may result in huge economic losses to greenhouse producers.

A part from the cryptic (hidden) habitats (unopened terminal and flower buds) highlighted above, other reasons that make thrips difficult to manage in greenhouses include their broad host range, high reproductive capacity, rapid life cycle (egg to adult), small size (2mm long), and resistance to insecticides. As such, the only way to effectively deal with thrips in greenhouse production systems is by taking a holistic (integrated) approach by implementing a variety of strategies.


Start clean

Making sure the young plants are clean is an important part of keeping a crop thrips-free. Transplants should be inspected for thrips before being placed in a greenhouse. Granted, this may be too labour intensive and time consuming especially when large quantities of plant material are involved but sticky card traps placed among the new plants for a day or two will quickly indicate the presence of thrips.



Staying clean would involve excluding thrips from the greenhouse as well as eliminating sources of thrips infestation. Where feasible, covering the openings to greenhouses is a very effective delivering a reduction of up to 70% in pest problems. Screening to exclude thrips must be very fine. Such screening, known as microscreen, has a maximum hole size of 192μm (0.037mm2). This, however significantly reduces air flow when placed over vents, and growers must modify ventilation systems to compensate for this.


Weeds and plant debris

Weed control is essential for a successful thrips control program. Certain weeds, particularly those in the Composite and Solanaceae families, and those with yellow flowers, attract thrips adults serving as refuge both for thrips and tospoviruses. As such weeds must be removed from both inside and around the greenhouse. It is also essential to immediately remove plant debris and bloomers from the greenhouse or placed into containers with tight-sealing lids, and not in the open as is common practice in most farms. Thrips adults will abandon desiccating plant material for the main crop.


Mass trapping

Mass trapping through the use of yellow or blue sticky traps placed just above the crop canopy is another method that has been shown to be effective in reducing population of flying insects (pests and beneficial). Research has shown that blue sticky traps catch more thrips than yellow ones, and in the same vein, stop the wearing of blue or yellow clothing in the greenhouse!

A recent development in the area of mass trapping is the use of sex aggregation pheromone lures that increase the number of thrips adults captured on sticky traps by attracting thrips out of their hiding with the added advantage of increasing their exposure to insecticide spray applications.

Other cultural and/or physical management strategies that may be implemented include overhead irrigation/showering/misting, which has shown to decrease thrips populations by creating an unfavourable environment for thrips; placing a barrier (e.g. polythene) underneath plants on beds thus preventing thrips from entering the soil to pupate; and use of trap or lure crops, which are plants that are more preferred by thrips thereby attracting thrips away from the main crop. Such plants may then be spayed with an insecticide, removed from the greenhouse, or inoculated with biocontrol agents. Marigold (Tagetes spp) has been shown to be very attractive to thrips.


Monitoring is important for early detection of a thrips infestation; determining the numbers of thrips present in the greenhouse; detecting seasonal trends in thrips population over the year; and in assessing the effectiveness of management strategies implemented. Yellow or blue sticky cards are the easiest way to monitor for thrips. Gently tapping the terminal buds and flowers onto a white piece of paper and using a 10x magnifying lens to examine the insects that fall out is an easy way to check for thrips. Be sure to record population levels.


Biological control

Biological control of thrips relies on the use of natural enemies including predatory mites and pirate bugs, entomopathogenic (or insect-killing) fungi, and entomopathogenic nematodes.


Predatory mites

The predatory phytoseiid mites, Amblyseius cucumeris, Iphiseius degenerans, and A. swirskii, are well suited for immature thrips control on greenhouse crops. Like thrips, they prefer small niches where contact between predator and prey is maximized. These predators feed on pollen when thrips populations are low and must be introduced before a thrips population has built up to damaging levels. The mites establish themselves on leaves, usually on the undersides, and are most effective in attacking 1st instar thrips nymph. They use their mouthparts to pierce the thrips and suck out the cellular fluids.

The predatory mite Amblyseius cucumeris (AMBLYTECH C®) regulates thrips populations by feeding on the 1st and 2nd instar nymphs. It should be applied on tender shoots and applied frequently based on pest pressure.

Another predatory mite, Hypoaspsis miles resides either in the soil or growing medium feeding on the pupal stage and should be applied on moist soil/medium.

The predaceous mites will establish themselves on a crop, mate and reproduce in the greenhouse. These mites are susceptible to many insecticide sprays. Contact your supplier for specific information on compatible pesticides and favourable environmental conditions.



Several pathogens have been investigated for control of thrips. The entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (BEAUVITECH®) has been shown to be very effective in managing thrips populations in cutflowers where relative humidity is high. The fungus is capable of infecting both adult and juvenile thrips. Frequent usage will ensure the fungus is present on most crop foliage affecting juvenile and adult thrips. After application allow 24 hours before spraying a fungicide. The product is compatible with most insecticides.

Entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae (NEMATECH S®)is effective in infecting the soil-dwelling prepupal and pupal stages. The nematode also kills sciarid flies larvae in the soil.

The key to implementing a successful biocontrol programme is to release biocontrol agents early enough in the cropping cycle. It is important to note that natural enemies will not regulate an already established or existing high thrips population because it takes time from release before natural enemies will lower thrips populations below damaging levels. Moreover, natural enemies will not eradicate (neither will insecticides) thrips.


Chemical control.

Chemical insecticides play an integral role in thrips management programs, more so because the tolerance of thrips damage on greenhouse-grown ornamental crops is very low. Insecticides with contact or translaminar activity are generally used to control thrips, because systemic insecticides typically do not move into flower parts (petals and sepals) where thrips normally feed.

High volume sprays are typically required to reach thrips that are located in hidden areas of plants such as flower buds. Most available insecticides have no activity on eggs and pupae. Repeat frequent applications are therefore warranted to kill the life stages that were not affected by previous application. However, frequent applications may lead to the development of insecticide resistance, another elephant in the room of thrips management, and possible plant injury (phytotoxicity).


In conclusion…
Thrips has been, and still is, a difficult insect pest to control or regulate in greenhouse production systems leading many to believe that we have reached an impasse regarding its management. Dealing with thrips, therefore, requires a holistic approach integrating the methods detailed above. Key in this approach is knowledge about the biology of the pest, and indeed all other relevant pests, the crop (s), the cropping systems, pest management options etc. Dudutech’s range of sustainable pest management solutions are backed up by training courses covering these very topics. Knowledge, we believe is the best weapon against pests!

John Ogechah is the Training Manager at Dudutech
Anthony Rono is a Senior Technical Liaison Officer at Dudutech.