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In spite of signing the delayed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) alongside its East African Community counterparts, Kenya will still have to pay Sh600 million more in tariffs for possibly the next six months for its horticultural exports to the European Union.

This as it tries to work with the EU to realign the tax regime to include Kenya for duty-free, quota free status for all its exports to the EU market. Its exports are currently subjected to GSP regime which required them to be imposed ranging between 4.5 to 8.5%.

The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) said only carnations would benefit from a 0% tariff line in the interim time. “The immediate impact of the GSP tariff on Kenyan exports to the EU is an increase in cost to the EU importers by the margin of the applicable tariff. Exports from Kenya to the EU will suffer import duties of approximately about Sh600 million a month under the regime,” said KFC CEO Jane Nginge. She however said it was a relief since failure to have the GSP agreement in place; the imports would have attracted full Most Favoured Nation (MFN) duties at customs-clearance into the EU.

The Council urged the concerned EU parties to fast- track the process and shorten the period during which GSP duties will be applied. In the, meantime, Ms Nginge said both parties will commence the process of ratification and final signatures of the Agreement in their jurisdictions.

The East African Community and European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EAC - EU EPA) finished negotiations and reached an agreement on. This comes after the two parties finally reached an agreement on October 13th and 14th 2014 in Brussels Belgium. It had been estimated that without the EU-EAC deal close to 500,000 workers in the horticulture sector would have been rendered jobless.

The previous pact lapsed on October 1. There was a delay in entering a new one as some of the EAC members were said to be taking too long to enter into an agreement.

Arysta LifeScience announced that Platform Specialty Products has reached a definitive agreement with a company backed by the Permira funds to acquire Arysta LifeScience for approximately $3.51 billion, subject to regulatory approval, working capital and other adjustments.

Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions (the latter of which is still awaiting final governmental approvals). The combined entity will be run as a vertically integrated agricultural chemicals company with sales of approximately US$2.1 billion, the 10th largest in the industry.“Bringing Arysta LifeScience under the Platform umbrella will create a broad agrochemicals offering that is uniquely positioned to provide farmers, globally, with a fulsome suite of products to address their product and geography specific needs,” said Daniel H. Leever, Platform’s Chief Executive Officer.

Current CEO of Arysta LifeScience, Wayne Hewett, will lead the new group. “There are immediate benefits to joining forces with Agriphar and Chemtura,” said Hewett. “We will be able to offer customers a full complement of biosolutions, crop protection, and seed treatment products.

We also will strengthen our global footprint in key geographic areas such as Western Europe and North America.” The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.

Pesticide resistance has for long been a farmer’s worst nightmare. Its management, especially in high value export crops has been difficult partly owing to the high standards required and the limited number of market acceptable pesticides.

But it no longer needs to be the stuff that nightmares are made of. With an understanding of the factors that promote its development, any farmer can stop pests from taking over his farm and watering down his investment. Consequently, Kenya’s produce won’t be the subject of some stringent restrictions in the European market where it exports most of it.

The development of resistance being almost a given where pesticides are used regularly, it is nowadays recommended that farmers should start resistance management from the beginning. That way, they minimize the chances of its occurrence and save on money as well.

Before venturing into the productions of a crop, experts recommend that they should use information from manufacturers and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) specialists.

The two are invaluable sources of information on baseline susceptibilities, can define probable resistance problems beforehand to help the prospective farmer from being found flat-footed and are also helpful in coming up with proper pesticide use strategies.

Alternatively, the grower can extract such information during product launches and by having discussions with fellow growers. There are three broad strategies of managing resistance; namely, moderation, rotations and mixtures and saturation.

Moderation which is basically limiting the use of a pesticide should be the first step. When a farmer decides to engage in moderation he or she should employ it in concert with IPM practices. Experts advise that moderation should be used to the fullest extent that will provide commercially acceptable control.

On other hand if he favours the rotations and mixtures strategy, which works on the premise that an individual pest is less likely to be resistant to two or more differing classes of pesticides, it is advisable to bear in mind the cost of pesticides. However, typically mixtures of insecticides and miticides have performed poorly. The last strategy, saturation, the use of pesticides at higher rates is recommended as a last resort. Even though it provides control for a time by increasing selection pressure on the pest, it comes at a greater cost.

Therefore the need to develop resistance management programs (RMP) is critical in resistance management. The program describes the tactics or measures that should be taken to manage pesticide resistance for a specific pest. The objective is to reduce the selection of resistance genes in a pest population.

In coming up with a programme, IPM should be part of the management. Resistance prevention and management programmes when new pesticides are introduced should also be implemented.

Additionally, a grower ought to consider alternative (non-chemical) pest management measures while also using more than one class of pesticide. The evaluation and refinement of the RPM should be continuous. But perhaps the most important thing to consider is the involvement of stakeholders.

Briefly discuss Irene Njeru (background-personal and as a grower)

I am a graduate in horticulture with a Masters in business administration (Entrepreneurship) and a Post graduate diploma in marketing. I started my working life in 1999 in the floriculture industry until now mostly in pack house, quality and marketing departments. in different flower farms.

You have been marketing flowers for most of your professional life, if you would have to give your remarks about being a flower marketer, what would they be?

Being a flower marketer is very interesting, has its challenges especially during low periods but gives great satisfaction when I am able to take the company successfully through this hard times. The success of the company depends largely how the sales and marketing strategies are implemented.

In your experiences, briefly discuss the vase life and transportability and marketing of flowers in Kenya?

The products from Kenya have a good vase life compared to products from other countries mostly because of the information that is readily available to growers on different post harvest treatments and also because of the seriousness of the partners in business on the cool chain process.

Transportation of flowers from Kenya to various destinations is not a problem as there are enough flights that pass our country however there is limitation of business with some countries due to very expensive freight rates an example being America.

A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat. A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words.

He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?” The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.” I wrote: “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.”

We live in a great country that God created so beautifully with bushes where the wild animals live in harmony, the great beaches where the Indian Ocean rests so peacefully in the coastal region, the snowcapped mountain that is so highly recognized and the great landscapes of the rift valley, beautiful farms with rice, wheat, coffee, tea, fruits and flowers, herds of cows, goats and all the livestock, and most of all the great diversity in the people; Bantu’s, Cushites and Nilotes! All blended together to make this great land called Kenya.

Varieties are valued at millions, often billion of US dollars. For many successful breeders their varieties represent their most-prized assets. So why are varieties valuable? A powerful well regarded variety can shift the demand curve.

They completely change the consumers’ perception. These perceptions affect individuals’ attitudes and behaviors, including purchasing decisions, and thus in-turn affects the business success of the breeders. In short, they provide a barrier to competitors by creating an essential competitive advantage.

So, do not allow growers mess up with your variety. Growers are there to perform a specific role, to grow. They will do it for a short time, before moving to another variety or the next challenge. So perhaps it is best not to leave the true value of your variety in the hands of apprentices. Leave it to Flower Watch. They will make your variety a super brand by giving it the correct vase life in a better cool chain management.

So, who said the grower would like a poor brand. He knows the value of brands because his name is a super brand in the market place. And by any cost it should remain so. Perhaps he even needs Flower Watch more than you, the breeder.

For he knows one thing, the price of a cut flower is determined by its quality at point of sale, not at harvest. Remember, he has invested hugely from selection, propagation, production all through to harvest, so he needs a prime cost. So, it now is clear that both have a common denominator Flower Watch.

Vase Life League Vase Life league is a concept that is of paramount importance to the grower. The flower watch initiative benchmarks grower from other growers and varieties from other varieties. It is the first concept of creating brands for the flower industry. Growers can use the vase life results for their marketing and improving their quality checks. Early this year, Flower Watch carried a study in 20 different farms from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. During the study, they picked on 2 to 4 different varieties from each farm and with everything else constant, tested on the vase life of the different varieties.

It is not gainsaying that benchmarking on the same variety, some farms performed far much better than others. Additionally, picked from the same farm and with everything else constant, some varieties performed better than others. This gave both the growers and breeders an overview of their brands.

What can this mean? Flower Watch been an independent and professional, the results will be well interpreted and a grower will be able to:

Know his own performance

Know variety characteristics e.g. ethylene sensitivity

Know the effect of opening stages on flower life.

Benchmark against industry standards

Consistency of his production systems hence set the right systems in the farm and the whole supply chain.

Choose the right variety

Audit their systems before conclusion of the variety performance

Analyse post harvest characteristics and improve the procedures where necessary.

Use the right post harvest treatment.

Retailers Retailers would like to improve the volumes sold and command respect for their quality supply. So any form of quality reduction will affect them negatively. This has drawn them to demand product specification and supply chain criteria as part of their purchase contract. This will command more respect if the vase life test has been done by an independent professional and confirm to the consumers they are buying the right flowers.

Conclusion Quality production and supply of flowers to the market will impact positively not only to the grower and breeder but also upon other stakeholder groups beyond the consumer.

The very best employees will be attracted to growers with high profile and esteemed brands. In addition, it has been proved that employees working for such brands are considerably more positive about their employers and twice as more likely to recommend them. They are also more likely to feel proud of their end product and tend to be more attached to it.

Additionally Kenya as a country will have the last laugh and that is why the industry regulators must demand nothing less than quality production and export of flowers. With Kenyan flowers been ranked the best due to the quality brands, it will be a revelation of the potency of the sector.

The country will be more likely to attract more foreign direct investors and the current investors will feel more confident to plough back into the sector. Equally, the perceived quality of these brands-e.g. innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness will be applied by consumers to Brand Kenya. This goes to create goodwill for the country and stimulates tourism as buyers and other stakeholders visit hence inward investment.

Finally, quality flowers will generate wealth not just to the exporters but also suppliers, surrounding community, employees and the country

I take this opportunity to welcome you to mZurrie Ltd. We are indeed honoured to celebrate our 1st anniversary as a group. It marks an important milestone in our history and commitment not only to our partners but the entire Floriculture fraternity.

Who are we?
mZurrie Flowers is a group of three flower growing farms which centrally managed. The board has invested in a professional Chief Executive Officer who moderates and monitors all the progress from a central office. The three farms namely Winchester farm, Maji Mazuri Flowers and Molo River Farm are run by professional General Managers. The three oversee the day to day running in their individual farms.