Famed for its vibrant roses, carnations and summer flowers, Kenya is one of the biggest flower exporters in the world. So with global transport networks at a halt, UK florists like Tanith Fix-James have been left to trade on limited supply. But what of the 70,000 flower farmers in Kenya whose livelihoods are being threatened? Louise Donovan investigates.
In 2018, the UK market alone was worth £1.3billion—the majority of it coming from Kenyan flower farms after being auctioned in the Netherlands. Tanith orders half her stock from Safari Garden, a grower collective in Kenya offering mixed boxes via online market Florismart (the other half is from auctions).
While flowers often can feel like a luxury, behind them lies an intricate supply-chain of farmers, workers, wholesalers, aeroplanes, florists and supermarkets—and one that has been uniquely altered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Tanith sat at her computer, some 4000 miles away Nafula Nyongesa, 27, worried about feeding her two children. She works as a harvester for Lamorna, a Fairtrade flower farm on the shores of Lake Naivasha, roughly two hours from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.