Roses, alstromeria, hypericum, kangaroo paws, and many other summer flowers - Kenya has a great variety of flowers to offer. Although the country has long been a producer of cut flowers, it is generally only the big farms that have made a name for themselves. The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) is working to change that and networking European buyers with new-generation farms. These small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are managed by well-trained Kenyan agricultural engineers and operate on Kenyan capital. Many of the employees have years of experience in flower cultivation and bring expertise often gained from large international farms. Over the course of a buying mission from 6-10 June, the IPD, together with its Kenyan partner, Kenya Flower Council, took European buyers to visit nine new generation farms.
There was a lot of skepticism among the buyers. They were initially doubtful whether the Kenyan SMEs would be able to meet their requirements in terms of quality, working conditions, and sustainability. They were then accordingly surprised by the producers. "They weren't expecting the professionalism displayed by the SMEs, and their expectations were vastly exceeded," says Dr. Andreas Gemählich, Sourcing + Markets expert for cut flowers at the IPD. "They got to know Kenya as a sourcing country for cut flowers in a new way."
During the visit to IFTEX, Kenya's cut flower trade fair, at the beginning of the trip, the buyers experienced Kenya as a flower country with all its facets. "Anyone who wants to work with Kenya can see the diversity of Kenyan flower production at first glance here," said Carsten Braukmann, Managing Director of "Florin Blumengroßhandel." "In discussions with the producers, their professionalism shone through. These are specialists who live for flowers and deliver high quality."
The range of farms in the IPD programme is equally diverse. The company "Kikwetu Flowers" is situated in the Timau region and is an expert on rose cultivation. On its nine hectares of land at an altitude of 2450 m, the farm grows eight different varieties of roses. These include the classics Athena and Ever Red, which are also a good alternative to Red Naomi from the Netherlands. The buyers were particularly impressed by the variety Mandala.
Great variety of summer flowers
The farm "Mount Kenya Sprouts" presented its great variety of summer flowers, including Limonium, Bupleurum, Lepidium, Talinum, and Eryngium. The limonium and eryngium varieties drew particular interest. "Mount Kenya Sprouts" offers limonium in nine colors, while eryngium thistles are grown in white and purple. "The tour of the farm was very interesting. It showed the emphasis placed on quality management," says Alexander Manweiler, buyer at "Blumen Willeke." "You can see clearly the result: the summer flowers, their quality and their colors of the blooms, these fulfill the demand criteria of European customers in all respects."
"Florencia Blooms" also specializes in growing summer flowers - especially Anigozanthos (kangaroo paws). They are offered in three colors - red, orange, and gold fever. The buyers were very impressed by these shining colors and the friendly and competent team during their visit. "The quality and variety of the summer flowers was very impressive," says Ralf Broehl, Floral Purchasing Manager for the online retailer "Valentins." "This is a range that we need all year round for our bouquets."
Two Hypericum-farms were also on the agenda of the IPD buyers' trip. The farm "Benev Flora," situated near Lake Naivasha, and "Fina Flora," located in the western highlands of Kenya's Great Rift Valley, specializing in the cultivation of Hypericum with brightly colorful berries.
Dr. Karlheinz Kroell, Managing Director of "Blütenpracht Frischblumen GmbH": "The product and the quality – impressive. In conversation, it was abundantly clear that everyone – from the managing director to the workers – live for flower cultivation and are very devoted to their land. They have a lot of experience, knowledge of agricultural economics, and expertise in the cultivation of cut flowers as well as a special relationship to their product."
In total, the buyers visited nine farms in Kenya. The emphasis was on summer flowers, but the other flower varieties were also convincing. "The trip opened a lot of doors," summarises Ralf Broehl, Purchasing Manager at "Valentins." "We will definitely continue the discussions we have started. I can well imagine that we will establish long-term business relationships with one or several producers of summer flowers, alstroemeria, and roses." Denis Probst from "Blumen Willeke" added: "It was a very intense trip with a full schedule, fantastic impressions, and excellent conversations. The range of farms in the IPD program impressed me. I didn't expect this quality of products or the professionalism of the firms. The firms' commitment to their communities was especially remarkable. Kenya is certainly an exciting sourcing country for us."