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Stefano Banella, Red Land Roses

El Niño threatens trust in Kenyan horticulture

Kenyan rose growers are worrying about their Valentine's Day sales as El Niño is not only affecting the quantity and quality of their flowers, but also the client's trusts. This is explained by Stefano Banella, IPM Consultant at Red Land Roses, a Kenyan rose farm that is also dealing with the effects of the weather phenomenon El Niño.

Ways to uphold quality
At Red Land roses, they are doing their outmost best to uphold the quality of their crop. Bandella: "We try to control, whether possible, the climate conditions, avoid wetting of the crop, selective pruning of the crop and improving the air circulation through management of the openings of the greenhouses and ventilators. Applying chemicals to control the disease in a preventive and curative way. Fortunately, El Niño was well indicated as a potential problem, so we took some precautionary measures, like the ones mentioned, before the heavy rains started."

Damage greenhouse
This also counts for the greenhouses. According to Banella, the rain mostly damages the plastic coverage, but due to the precautionary measurements they could limit the damage. "Before the heavy rains started, we changed the plastic coverage, where necessary, to avoid leakages inside the greenhouses. Besides that, all the trenches were cleaned to ensure a correct flow and drainage of rain water," he says. "Fortunately, we do not have to deal with strong winds, so the greenhouse structure is not damaged," he adds.

Damage infrastructure
The heavy rainfalls are damaging the roads, which can cause delays. Fortunately, according to Banella this has not been the case yet. "We still can manage to deliver the flowers on time."

Valentine's Day sales affected
According to Banella, El Niño is affecting the Valentine's Day sales of many growers. "The production for Christmas will be lower in quantity and quality. As a consequence, the client's trust in Kenyan production is affected; they are hesitant to order Kenyan roses for Valentine’s Day as they also fear for the quantity and quality," he says.

Forecast weather
The current weather is characterized by heavy rains with sunny intervals. "We've had very big rainfalls at the end of last week and at the beginning of this. Besides that, there are big differences between the maximum temperature, which can go up to 35 degrees and the minimum temperature, which is around 13-15," he says. And for the coming weeks, the forecasts are, according to Banella, not going to change. "It is said that the weather will continue like this for at least the next two weeks, because of El Niño phenomenon."