Featured Past Articles

Powdery Mildew BluesThe farmers’ constant nuisance Powdery mildew has since time immemorial wrecked havoc to the farmers and still with the modern science continues to be an headache among farming communities, dare ask a Rose grower, cucumber, mango, strawberry to name but a few, which disease consumes their time, labor and resources more, surely he/she will not forget powdery mildew.

Powdery mildew refers to the grayish white powder like mart that form on plant surface tissues. It is rated as one of the most widespread fungal problem both in green house and outdoor crops. Floriculture farmers fight the disease all year round. The disease in roses affects leaves, stems, flower buds, sepals, petals and young shoots however new shoots being more susceptible to infection and weak areas such as the flower neck.. Older leaves may not be affected but purplish blotches are observed underneath. Young leaves, buds become distorted and may easily drop or severely get deformed.

All of the management positions in flower business contribute to the overall success of the operation. Perhaps none has a more direct hand in the ultimate quality of the company’s product, however, than the head grower. It’s a position that has evolved over time from skilled plantsman to grower, trainer, communicator, business manager and leader.

In a very casual way Florinews engaged four Grower’s indepedently in one of the many cocktails hosted by agrochemical companies— Ken Mwenda, Kisima Flowers; Attanus Mutiso, Baraka Flowers; Ajay Singh, Kabuku Farm; and Peter Mutinda, Karen Roses — for their opinions on what the job is today, how growers can improve and how prospective head growers can prepare for the position.

Businesses operating in the Kenyan-Dutch cut flower supply chain will continue meeting with government agencies and trade promotion specialists from the two countries in the next few months to tackle a host of minor and major inefficiencies and bottlenecks hindering further growth. These so-called Platform Discussions, initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, are the result of a recent in-depth study of this supply chain. The aim of both the study and the meetings is to lift the Kenyan-Dutch cut flower supply chain to a higher level, setting new standards for the entire horticultural sector. The result, if the plan succeeds, will be reduced supply chain costs, a longer vase life for flowers and therefore increased value-for-money for consumers, and increased sustainability in terms of a lighter carbon footprint and reduced product and packaging wastage.

Chakravarthi : The Grower.
With profound gratitude and humility, Chakravarthi accepted the call to work in a flower farm. Little did he know that the call will take him far from his hometown. Through hard work and sacrifice he has risen from a project manager in India to one of the most succesful flower farm managers in Kenya. He tells his story.

Briefly discuss Chakravarthi (background-personal and as a grower to current position country General Manager Panda Flowers Ltd)
I have done bachelor of science and masters of science in agriculture from Asia’s number one renowned Institute, best for agriculture research and development, Tamil nadu Agricultural university (TNAU) Coimbatore. After my education, I joined Bio dynamic agriculture as a project manager which involves organic farming and mushroom cultivation and training the farmers in to EID parry group. Accidently I was approached by one of the flower farm managers, Mr. Srinivasan, MD for Floritech India Ltd, Bengalore.

Naivasha flower farms that subscribe to Fairtrade (FLO) standards and are Fairtrade certified have completely changed the image of the District hospital maternity wing. Initially it was an image of 20 women in labour crowded in one central room quietly moaning and swaying until it is their time to go to one large delivery room to deliver in a cot-directly next to another mother giving birth. To date, it is one of the nicest African facilities handling over 500 deliveries monthly. Women and new borns can now enjoy privacy, respect and safety they deserve during their birth experiences.

Currently, it has an 80 patient bed capacity in operation which includes 18 delivery beds.

Over the past 10 years there has been major developments in floriculture and horticulture in Naivasha. This has seen migration of people and their families to the area. Over 70,000 people are employed by the flower sector, with 70% of them being female. The mushrooming employment opportunities did not match with the healthcare facilities. The Naivasha District Hospital had to cater for a population of more than 400,000 people from Naivasha and its environs whereas it was designed with half the number in mind. This resulted into an impossible situation and something had to be done.

Driven by the desire to make a difference and passion for helping others, the Managing Director Panda Flowers Mr. Igal Elfezouaty embarked on a life changing experience. Coincidentally, Cindy Berkland, a women’s health care nurse practitioner from Omaha in the United States had come visiting and had volunteered at the Naivasha District Hospital. Igal had hosted her and they shared the days’ experiences. They both agreed the town needed a bigger and more equipped maternity.

Viva... Viva... Vivando, Viva... Viva... Vivando, filled the air as one of the biggest chemical companies in the world, BASF, launched a creative mode of action with cutting edge technology for the control of powdery mildew in ornamentals. Time almost audio recorded voice of Mr. Patrick Ngugi, Country Manager-Kenya, Crop Protection and public health asked, “Are you afraid of powdery mildew? Are you concerned by the ever increasing threat of resistance build up by fungicides? Are you concerned of scotching flowers and leaving residue? Are you concerned of WHO class of your choice product, Can you achieve your goals in farming without IPM? Do you use wetter from time to time?” Each of the questionreceived a resourcing ‘Yes’ from the over 150 growers in attendance. Today I stand in front you to offer your solution, Vivando.

Launching the new product at a Naivasha Hotel, Mr. Ngugi said Vivando should mostly be used for preventive measures against powdery mildew though it has curative action. He assured farmers of the safety of the fungicide on beneficial predatory insects like bees, birds and earthworms. Adding that the fungicide has excellent components in the control of powdery mildew.

The floricultural arm of the illustrious Sunland Roses, sits like a jewel in the crown of the multi-faceted conglomerate. One of the leading farms for rose cultivation, Sunland Roses is a success story built upon years of dedication, and focused expansion.

Sunland Roses’ over decade-long stint as premium rose cultivators has constantly seen up gradation and expansion. With an employee base of over 700 professionals and an export base of global reach, Sunland Roses continues to further its expansion plans in the floriculture business.

A growing demand and increase in popularity has helped Sunland Roses constantly propel itself to capture newer horizons. Mr. Harry Kruger said, “We are keenly looking at acquiring many more new varieties and technologies to add to its cultivation base and produce as well as invest in land conducive to the cultivation of high quality roses.”