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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.

Continually improving its range of agricultural innovations to suit the ever changing global environmental conditions and European floriculture markets regulations, Amiran introduced the Amiran Plastic Mulch, an effective, safe generation product from Ginegar Limited, the world’s 2nd largest producer of plastic.

Brought into the country at a time when the agricultural sector was challenged with water shortages due to the 2007-8 drought that hit most parts of the country, Amiran Plastic Mulch has helped farmers to save on cost and conserve water resources with its numerous benefits.

Kenya’s flower industry has been on impressive highs, having surmounted several lows to remain among the most preferred globally.

Changes in weather which have hit Kenya’s competitors like Ecuador have worked to the benefit of Kenya. Brazil which is clearing more of traditional flower farms and converting them into real estate has equally given Kenya a competitive edge.

The irony however is that the same factors working for our country are in a few years going to work against us. Already the effects of climate change are being felt particularly in agriculture. Land meant for production, of even flowers, is quickly being subdivided and turned into commercial plots. However the noise to oppose such moves is not loud enough.

This is one of the major problems of our flower farmers. Markets still continue to pose challenges, growing conditions are not quite streamlined, yet the demand keeps coming. Farmers keen on question their information thirst are turning to international companies because there is no local information.

Trouble with this is that international companies don’t know local solutions and are therefore not better placed to give homegrown solutions. According to a Horticultural Crop Development Authority (HCDA) report, there is enormous growth potential in the small-scale flower growers if appropriate financial and technical assistance as well as a supportive policy can be put in place.

The overall enormous growth in value, acreage and volume of Kenya’s cut flower industry has been largely attributed to a robust private sector involvement and externally-sourced knowledge and technologies. Kenya has adequate technical and human capacity and skills but this has not been adequately utilized by the industry.

A recent study jointly showed weak interactions between the flower farmers and the local research system causing the floriculture industry to rely on external knowledge to solve the industry’s problems.

This over-reliance on external knowledge has contributed to the under-utilization of indigenous research capacity in Kenya, even though most of the stakeholders agree that Kenya has adequate skilled and well-trained manpower.

The slow, bureaucratic procedures in the public research institutes undermine their ability to respond to urgent farmers’ requests. Most farmers’ experiences with public research institutions are heartrending, whereby it takes more time to get results from local laboratories, whereas if they sent samples to laboratories abroad, it would take them less to get results by email.

Farmers’ needs, such as disease outbreaks are usually urgent and require immediate solutions.

The delays from the local public research system forces farmers to seek solutions from international research establishments. underscore the need to improve the interface between and among scientists, researchers, farmers, policy makers and service providers and build the capacity of industry stakeholders to conduct demand-led research.

For any research activity to be useful, it must be sensitive to local needs and priorities as well as allow ownership of its agenda by the intended beneficiaries. In the case of floriculture research, flower growers and exporters are the key stakeholders and their views should help inform research decisions.

Information on market trends demands, tastes and preferences, transactional costs and prices should be easily available and updated.

Market access is closely related to phyto-sanitary compliance and proper (pre- and post-harvest) handling of flowers. As yet, there is minimal emphasis on post-harvest handling and training for growers. This constitutes an opportunity for the research and training institutions.

Companies like Elgon Kenya which commands over 80 percent of all flower customers in the country has a wealth of information about market needs, and trends which if turned into documented study would play a key role in providing informed guide to growers and other industry players while making the Kenyan flower competitive in the global arena.

Elgon Kenya’s extensive network of agronomists and field officers has enabled them interact with different growers who have shared with them their farming experiences.

Such information could be key in addressing gaps that stands in the way of profitable and internationally competitive flower production business.

Our role in supporting government and the flower producing fraternity bloom remains unflinching and we call on a hybrid partnership to make this a reality now more than ever.

Rwandan farmers engaged in food and export-oriented agriculture will benefit from a 50 per cent subsidy on irrigation equipment, one of the means the government has devised to enhance the production of fresh produce (fruits, vegetables, flowers) for the local and export market.

Amb Claver Gatete, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, says the initiative will help reduce the country’s expenditure on food imports, especially rice, and expand the exports base.

“We are confident this scheme will boost the sector’s productivity and, eventually, increase our exports, especially from the horticulture sub-sector,” the minister said.

He says that both small and large-scale farmers, particularly those engaged in production of export-oriented crops, will benefit from the subsidy.

As the curtain opens on the Naivasha Horticultural Fair 2014 Exhibition, the 12th edition, there is barely room for any shortcoming that may inhibit its success. All minds and hands that know what it entails have been up and down to try to put different pieces together to make what can be seen as the true spirit of the regional horticultural industry.

The event, since its first ever occurrence has continued to aggressively spread its tentacles world over, luring to its importance the most reputed and less comparable companies in various business of sorts.

The beginning of the event concept wasn’t such humble though the humility and value that is endowed in the event itself reflects a totally different picture. Good institutional organization, positive projection and a solemn consideration of participant’s interest.

The Kenya Flower Council continues to follow up on the increased number of interceptions at the EU market due to the presence of harmful organisms and most unfortunately, inaccurate documentation. Take note that despite notable improvement, tolerance for both issues is zero.

To forestall an import ban on the specified products, the EU must be provided with a convincing and objective ACTION PLAN, with clear timelines on outputs, to mitigate against the interceptions.

A meeting held at KEPHIS office on 20th August 2014 by the Horticulture Competent Authority (KEPHIS; Horticultural Crops Directorate; formerly HCDA, PCPB, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization KALRO; formerly KARI) and KFC and another held at KFC office on 21st August 2014 between KEPHIS staff, EU consultant and KFC reviewed progress on identified interventions.