August 2017:

Kenya's post-election, minimum wage hike Canada, Costa Rican Mother's Day, Chinese Valentine's Day and more

In August 2017, a lot happened. Markel acquires majority interest in Costa Farms, Industry mourns passing of Francis Kwong, Kenya's post-election unrest leads to worker shortage, Ontario flower growers fear minimum wage hike, Mother's Day in Costa Rica, Valentine's Day in China and much more. Below the overview. 



US: Markel acquires majority interest in Costa Farms

Markel and Costa Farms announced they have entered into a definitive agreement for Markel to acquire a majority interest in Costa Farms and its related operating companies. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.


Kenya: Crowdfunded solar systems for Bondet Farm

Kenyan flower farm Bondet Farm is planning to put its 35 ha greenhouse under solar energy. The costs to realize this project is 144,000 euro and will be financed through the crowdinvesting platform of ecoligo. The project is owned and operated by Ariya Leasing. Earlier this year, ecoligo raised a total of 260,000 euro to supply another Kenyan flower farm, Penta Flowers, with a total of 198 kWp of solar electricity. This project is also owned and operated by Ariya Leasing.


Renown Seed Scientist, Director of seed technology for PanAmerican Seed

Industry mourns passing of Francis Kwong

Ball Horticultural Company mourns the death of Francis Kwong, 65, from colon cancer July 30. Kwong had a 38-year career in the seed industry where he spent a majority of them with PanAmerican Seed Company. His recent title was director of seed technology, where he was known for his passion for agriculture and seed science, but also his remarkable spirit of collaboration, professional integrity, and amazing creativity.

Kenya's post-election unrest leads to worker shortage

"Even though there might be some shortage of workers, all Kenyan flower farms are still in business and exporting", says a Kenyan rose grower in Nakuru. After Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as president angry protests erupted as opposition leader Raila Odinga rejected the results, indicating that electronic systems were hacked in favor of President Kenyatta. Yesterday in Nairbobi, Odinga called on his supporters not to go to work on Monday 14, partly as a boycott of the election and partly as a commemoration of those who lost their lives over the weekend. 


CAN: Ontario flower growers fear minimum wage hike

Plans for minimum wage hike are the talk of town in Ontario, Canada. A 23 percent increase that will come into effect in January 2018 worries Ontario flower farmers. Labor represents their single largest cost, and this $2.60 increase, to $14 per hour in 2018, and eventually $15 per hour in 2019, might even put some farms out of business. "Operations that rely on temporary foreign workers are now beginning the planning and ordering process with a lot of concern. Can employers get $14/hour of performance out of workers already in January 2018?", explains Ken Linington of Flowers Canada Ontario (FCO), the provincial trade association representing flower growers across the province of Ontario.


Lily grower René Kuiper, Expoflora:

'Costa Rican Mother's Day elevates sales in low-season'

Mother's Day is one of the most important holidays in Costa Rica and is celebrated with lots of flowers on August 15. Even Costa Rican flower farms that are specialized in exporting their products take this opportunity to elevate their sales in a period that is known as low-season. Lily grower René Kuiper of Expoflora, for example, mainly exports lilies to the US, but increased production for this special day.



Pablo Restrepo Samper, Excellence Flowers:

More Colombian roses for Chinese Valentine's Day

Chinese Valentine's Day is around the corner and South American growers have been busy shipping their flowers. This year, the holiday is celebrated on August 28, and more Colombian roses seem to be heading to China. Colombian rose grower Pablo Restrepo Samper of Excellence Flowers, for example, has increased his sales to China this year.


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Photo report: Plantarium showcases Dutch tree industry

In Boskoop in the Netherlands, the tree growing industry gathered for the 35th edition of Plantarium, where the country showcases everything related to the industry. This hasn't gone unnoticed abroad either, with the show attracting visitors from countries like Germany, France, Scandinavia, Southern and Eastern Europe, and even Asia. At Groen-Direkt, held concurrently, growers show their products and traders can place orders.


US (IL): 1,000+ professionals discover varieties at Ball

More than 1,000 industry professionals visited Ball Horticultural Company’s home office in West Chicago, Illinois, on the last Friday in July for Ball Seed’s annual Field Day and Landscape Day celebration. Attendees had the opportunity to see new plants by the hundreds in up-close-and-personal trials, engage with speakers and product experts, and enjoy fun and food with peers.



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