Kenya is one of the biggest growers of cut flowers in the world, but mainly focused on roses. It is always risky to put all your eggs in one basket, therefore some Kenyan growers are looking for new alternatives that allow them to diversify their risk; carnations is one of the options.
Along with Celiar Norena (general manager of SB Talee de Colombia, distributor of Natura Breeders’ varieties) there is the production manager of the farm Lemotit (a farm of Finlays in Kericho), Mr. Japhet Langat.
“The intention to diversify and the vast experience and great performance of the Kenyan growers, makes Kenya a very appealing market to us and our carnation varieties”, says Sandra Medina of Natura Breeders. This breeder from Colombia trialed some of their varieties in Kenya. “The results are good, our varieties have adapted well to the conditions of the country. We are very excited about one red standard carnation variety, named Ulisse (NATisse®) that was tested for Fusarium oxysporum resistance in one of the biggest cut flowers groups of the country, and the preliminary results were outstanding.”
Natura Breeders is a company established by the combined carnation breeding tradition of two companies: Hybrida, an Italian breeding company with a long family tradition in obtaining new flower varieties, and SB Talee, a Colombian company specialized in breeding and propagation. SB Talee is one of the main licensees of Natura Breeders, currently selling plants in Latin America, Europe, and some African and Asian countries. The new varieties are being tested by Geoflora, a Colombian cut flower production farm (28 ha) that serves also as a test field and showroom.
“We have a Research & Development team with vast experience in breeding and selecting ornamental varieties; our programs are developed in Colombia (equatorial climate) and in Italy (seasonal climate), thus allowing Natura Breeders to select varieties suitable for all climatic conditions where carnations are produced in the world, whether tropical, Mediterranean, or both. Besides, breeding and selecting in Colombia, where we have the same weather conditions all year round, allows us to perform more cycles per year, being able to introduce more varieties in a shorter period of time. Varieties performing successfully in Colombia have a big chance to perform well also in Kenya, a country with similar climatic conditions."
One of Natura's varieties, Dante (NATda®), is starting to be grown in a commercial program by a Kenyan company already. “After testing for almost two years, they decided to introduce it."