Featured Past Articles
By Mary Mwende Mbithi
South Africa’s founding father, Nelson Mandela, once said, ‘Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead…’ and indeed Porini Premium Flowers has every reason to celebrate as they mark a Decade since the start of operations!
Ten years ago, in the peripheral region of Olenguruone, Molo in Nakuru County, what began as a noble idea was ultimately propelled into a reality. The inception of Porini Premium Flowers was a beautiful milestone for the founders of Isinya Roses Ltd, which by then was ten years old having started in the year 2001.
Porini, a Swahili word that means ‘wild,’ became the little sister to Isinya roses. And just like the wild flowers, ‘You must allow yourself to grow in all places people thought you never would;’ Porini Premium Flowers has continued to bloom in all aspects, bringing a new face to the flower industry. Last year, Porini turned a decade old, her sister farm Isinya Roses turned two decades old.
Experts in the fields of plant pathology, entomology, cultivation, climate, and technology work together with entrepreneurs and scientists from a range of fields. This collaborative approach combines innovations with the latest scientific knowledge and important and relevant questions from the professional field.
Healthy substrate and soil
A healthy substrate or soil is an important starting point for any healthy horticultural crop. Therefore, sustainable adaptations and cultivation techniques are important to create resilient cultivation systems. In resilient cultivation systems, more emphasis is put on preventing diseases as opposed to treating outbreaks. To achieve better disease prevention, a multi-disciplinary approach is needed. This requires optimal physical, chemical and biological characteristics in the rhizosphere and rooting environment so that better growth and higher resilience of the plant, as well as the control of pathogens, can be achieved.
Intercontinental ocean shipping of agricultural products is considered more carbon and cost efficient and may provide more flexibility compared to air freight. The Kenyan government is actively supporting sea freight so that Kenya remains competitive in the global market. Although sea transport is already common practice for some Kenyan fruit (avocado, pineapple), for flower export, this option is still poorly explored.
Kenya exports a significant amount of products to the Netherlands, most of which are related to agriculture. Globally the main mode of transport for trade is ocean shipping, this is however not the case for Kenya. Most of it is transported by air as this is a quicker form of transportation. For agricultural products with a short shelf life such as flowers, fruits and vegetables this is especially important. In 2020 however, COVID-19 exposed the limitations of airfreight in Kenya. Passenger flights carry freight in the belly of the plane and due to a high number of flights being cancelled there was a huge shortfall of airfreight capacity. By increasing maritime shipping, Kenya can provide an alternative way of transporting goods, decrease costs and reduce its environmental footprint.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service is training experts to help detect a new invasive mango mealybug pest.
According to the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization that is supporting in training the experts, early detection and early identification of the pest will give countries in Eastern Africa region an advantage to launch early action.
This will help mitigate the damaging effects of the pest. Mango mealybug feeds on the tree and produces droppings which make the leaves black and sticky. This lowers the strength of the tree and its production of mangoes. During heavy attacks, a whole part of the tree looks blackish in colour.
The mealybugs are easily spread through international trade in plant materials. The 18 diagnostic experts come from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda.
“’Rules-based trade’ ensures that flower trade runs smoothly”
“Trade rules tend to be taken for granted. However, without rules, there would be mayhem. A trading system that is based on rules helps ensure that flower trade flows as smoothly, predictably, and freely as possible.” The World Trade Organization recently posted a video in which they focus on rules-based trade in the floriculture industry. In her recent LinkedIn post, Sylvie Mamias, Secretary General of the international floriculture trade association Union Fleurs, discusses the importance of WTO’s focus on floriculture trade.
Let’s talk trade
“How inspiring to see that the World Trade Organization chose flowers to illustrate its latest LetsTalkTrade video episode and explain the concept of ‘rules-based trade’ with a concrete example,” says Mamias. “A clear and useful reminder that a global trading system based on rules helps ensure that international trade flows as smoothly, predictably, transparently, and freely as possible. It also guarantees fairness, stability, and non-discrimination.”
Freight, the taxation regime, and the EU plant health regulation were predicted to be the biggest challenges for the Kenyan floriculture in 2021, according to Kenya Flower Council’s (KFC) CEO Clement Tulezi. “When I was predicting that earlier in the year, I was not wrong. These three have remained the major challenges, and not much has changed since, unfortunately.” In this article, Tulezi goes over the current state of these challenges, as well as a new challenge the Kenyan flower industry is having to deal with and how Tulezi’s association is helping to find solutions and improvements.
20-25% of daily harvest thrown away
According to Tulezi, their top priority at the moment is freight. “In 2020, we temporarily lost demand for our industry, and the airlines found better business elsewhere because of Covid. As a result, the freight costs have gone up, and this situation has persisted. We are still short on capacity. There are still many cancellations. Almost every two days a flight to Nairobi is canceled, meaning that the capacity has not improved. The sector falls short of 1500 tons per week. As a result, the majority of growers and exporters are throwing away 20-25% of their daily harvest. Meanwhile, the demand for Kenyan flowers is good. These growers have invested a lot into their production, for which there is actually enough demand, but there is no space to transport it.”
In addition, the costs of transporting the Kenyan flowers have remained very high. “Moving produce from Nairobi costs on average $2,60 per kilo, whereas this only costs $1.50 for the Ethiopian market. When all other factors are held constant, how can the Kenyan market compete in the same market?”
Insect monitoring forms an important part of integrated pest management programmes. It is crucial to identify pests accurately so that appropriate control measures can be taken. Insect traps are one way of observing the prevalence of insects.
Agricultural research and farming practices are increasingly driven by recognition of the need for sustainable agriculture and lower environmental impact.
Lately, we have main facilities, that boast of the latest technology and a local research and development team that enables them to address the specific needs of its clients. Their mission is to produce integrated and sustainable solutions for pest management that contribute to healthier and more productive agricultural systems. The facilities focus on the production and application of beneficial organisms used in biological pest control and IPM programmes. Insects will be massproduced to support the IPM programmes both locally and internationally.
Biological pest control uses living organisms to suppress pest densities, and is centred on using one type of organism, the ‘natural enemies’, to control another, the pest species.