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PJ Dave Flora invests in rainwater harvesting:

Kenya: "It is not only more sustainable, the quality of our roses will improve too"

Since 2007, PJ Dave Flora has been growing roses in the Kajiado District, Kenya, 60km south of Nairobi. They started on 17ha and expanded to 63ha. In 2012, they became the exclusive grower of Rhodos in Kenya, growing this variety on 36ha, added spray roses in 2021, growing it on 11ha, and have 16 of intermediate roses. In all those years, they have also invested in sustainability, obtained several certificates, installed solar panels, and from mid-October, they will also start rainwater harvesting. In this article, Director Janki Dave and Managing Director Santosh Kulkarni tell us more about this investment, the farm, the market, and their future plans.

The team of PJ Dave (with Elisabeth Dave, the owner, in the middle) at IFTEX 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Rainwater harvesting
Since the establishment of the farm, PJ Dave Flora has been working hard to comply with all the environmental and social standards and obtained certificates like GlobalGAP, Fairtrade, KFC, MPS. They always had the vision of becoming a 'greener' company, and in 2018 they installed the first solar panels, generating 360kw, which covers 25% of their energy needs.

The next and current investment is rainwater harvesting, on which they are currently working. "The dam is already built. Now, we are connecting the greenhouses to collect all the rainwater. The dam can collect 125,000 m3 of water, and in a year, we can harvest 300,0000m2."

The reason for this investment? "Currently, our water comes from a borehole. Over the last 2 years, there has been less rain than usual, so you never know what will happen with the underground water in the future. On top of that, the underground water needs to be purified with a machine ( RO ) before we can use it, which means the use of electricity. Rainwater is the best water, so it can save on electric costs and will also improve the quality of our roses." Mid-October, they expect the project to be completed ."

Worldwide delivery
And when talking about spreading risks, PJ Dave Flora ships its flowers all over the world. "Our flowers go all over the globe, from Australia to the Middle East, Russia, Asia, and Europe." 60 percent of the volume consists of Rhodos, of which half of it is sold directly and the other half via the auction. The spray and intermediate roses are both sold directly.

According to Kulkarni, their spray roses are in the highest demand at the moment. "Since we started producing them two years ago, the demand for this type of roses increased sharply. We grow 18 varieties with a stem length ranging from 50 to 80 cm, and whatever we are producing, all are sold at premium prices."

But their biggest crop, Rhodos, is still doing well too, particularly for the holidays. "It is one of the best travelers with a good vase life and almost thornless. The demand for this rose particularly peaks before holidays like Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Women's Day."

When talking about challenges, demand, and logistics are the main ones Kenyan growers are dealing with, they explain. "We see that the market is becoming more competitive, and we see that the buying power of the end consumer has decreased. Also the exchange rates, the Russian sanctions, and the logistic costs, which are still higher than pre-covid times, are complicating the situation."

So, what to expect for the coming period? "Despite the challenges we expect that the prices will be good. You never know how the demand will develop and if the end consumer will purchase as many flowers as before, but when looking at the orders we received for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Women's Day, and Mother's Day, hopes are high."

Future plans
Due to the current challenges and uncertainties, there are no expansion plans in the pipeline for PJ Dave Flora, though we are considering further diversification. They are eager to become a 'greener' company. "We want to expand our solar panel plant so that we have more green energy."

For more information:
Santosh Kulkarni
PJ Dave Flora
Email: [email protected]