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Frans Ederveen, Flora Delight:

Kenya extends hydrangeas season in Europe

"The hydrangea is a exclusive product with a lot of potential", says Frans Ederveen of Flora Delight, a Kenyan based hydrangea grower. The majority of the hydrangeas on the European market are available for a couple of months a year. However, according to Ederveen, the demand for this flower is at any time of the year. As Kenya has 52 weeks of sunshine, the Dutchmen Frans Ederveen and Marco van Sandijk (General Manager in Kenya) decided to establish a farm in this country in 2007. Now, after years of testing and adjusting the hydrangeas to the Kenyan conditions, Flora Delight is able to extend the hydrangea season and can offer colorful hydrangeas almost all year round.

Frans Ederveen and Ken Wangwe at the IFTEX in Nairobi, Kenya.

'Kenyan' hydrangea
Creating hydrangeas that are resistant to the Kenyan conditions is not an easy task as it is a time consuming process that requires a lot of knowledge. "It takes about two to three years to cultivate a finished hydrangea cut flower", says Ederveen. What's special about the Kenyan hydrangeas is the variety in colors. Flora Delight grows the hydrangeas in the ground and the combination of the climate, the soil and the water quality at their location seems to be beneficial for the hydrangea cultivation. ''It enables us to grow different colored flowers. For example, as our soil contains sulfate, some of our hydrangeas turn from pink to blue without adding any aluminum afterwards", he says. Currently, Flora Delight owns hydrangeas in 7 different colors. Some of them are Dutch lines and others come from their own breeding. Annually, 10-15 stems per m2 meter are being produced in their greenhouse.

Year round production
According to Ederveen. the hydrangea is an exclusive product worldwide. "Annually about 30 million hydrangea stems are being produced in the Netherlands and there is a high production in South America, which is mostly focused on the US market. However, compared to roses, the worldwide hydrangea production is still small. So, there is a large potential to expand in this market. And therefore, the year round production and availability of this flower offers a great opportunity", says Ederveen. "The European production season runs from April to November and we are able to supply hydrangeas from September till June. In this way, the European market can be supplied with hydrangea flowers all year round", he says.

The hydrangeas at FloraDelight are cultivated in a 18ha sized greenhouse at an altitude of 2300 meters.

Export markets
However, not only the European market can benefit from Fora Delight's almost year round production. About 50% of their volumes are supplied to the Dutch auction and about 50% to the direct market. "These export markets include China, South Africa, Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq and Russia", says Ederveen. And from both markets, at the auction and the direct market, they see the demand increasing. "At the moment, the demand is greater than the supply", he says.

Future plans
In the future, Flora Delight has a couple of plans in the pipeline. Firstly, they are eager to add new colors to their assortment. "When looking at the demands of our clients, we would like to offer 10-12 colors." Besides that, they are also planning to grow another two hectares, from 18ha to 20ha, this coming year and even further afterwards. Finally, they want to increase the amount of hydrangeas from their own breeding program and work on more so-called foolproof varieties. "We want to develop hydrangeas that are more resistant and more easy to pack, unpack and so on", concludes Ederveen.

For more information:
Flora Delight
Frans Ederveen
Email: [email protected]