Roses, Carnations, Alstromeria, Gypsophilla, Lilies & Ornamentals

Kenya’s economy largely relies on the agriculture sector. Horticulture is one of the top foreign exchange earner for the country generating approximately US dollars 1 billion annually. In 2014, the sector contributed 2.8% to the national GDP out of which 1.52% was from the flower industry.The floriculture industry has recorded growth in volume and value of cut flowers exported every year (10,946 tons in 1988 compared to 86,480 tons in 2006, 117,713 tons in 2009, 120,220 tons in 2010, 121, 891 tons in 2011, 123,511 tons  in 2012 and 124,858 tons in 2013). According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2014, the floriculture industry exported 136, 601 tons valued at Kshs 54.6 billion.

Kenya is the lead exporter of rose cut flowers to the European Union (EU) with a market share of about 38%. Approximately 65% of exported flowers are sold through the Dutch Auctions, although direct sales are growing. In the United Kingdom, supermarkets are the main retail outlets.Other growing destinations include Japan, Russia and USA. Over 25% of exported flowers are delivered directly to these multiples, providing an opportunity for value addition at source through sleeving, labelling and bouquet production.

The main production areas are around Lake Naivasha, Mt. Kenya, Nairobi, Thika, Kiambu, Athi River, Kitale, Nakuru, Kericho, Nyandarua, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gichu, Kajiado, Meru, Laikipia and Machakos, Kirinyaga, Embu among others. The main cut flowers grown in are roses, carnations, Alstromeria, Gypsophilla, Lilies, eryngiums, arabicum, hypericum, Statice, a range of summer flowers amongst many others.

The industry continues to attract investors due to a solid infrastructure, favourable climate, global-positioning of Kenya in addition to a productive workforce. It comprises large, medium and small scale producers who have attained high management standards and have invested heavily on technical skills, production, logistics and marketing. The growers have vast knowledge complemented by modern technology for precision farming and prowess in marketing.

The farmers utilize high levels of technology, for example, computerized drip irrigation and fertigation systems, computerized greenhouses ventilation systems, net shading, pre-cooling and cold storage facilities, grading and bouqueting, fertilizer recycling systems to prevent wastage, wetlands for waste water treatment, artificial lighting to increase day length, grading/packaging sheds, and refrigerated trucks have been adopted.

It is estimated that over 500,000 people (including over 90,000 flower farm employees) depend on the floriculture industry.

On the global front, a growth of 5% is anticipated every year over the next five years. To be a part of this opportunity, Kenya is going to continue expansion albeit at a much slower rate than previous years. At the same time, the industry is cognizant of the impact of the Eurozone economic crisis; a situation that calls for focused improvement of productivity to counter increased costs of production and lowering returns on investments.

Going forward, the industry will continue bench-marking itself against other producer countries. Information thus gathered will be useful in formulating strategies for growth, to capture prospects of expansion in current and emerging markets.