May Issue 3 2011

What Do Lillies Stand For?

All flowers have different meanings in different cultures and history. Some of the lily meanings stands for; majesty, wealth, pride, innocence, and purity. Purple lily represents dignity, pride and success. Calla lily symbolizes brilliance of truth and holiness. Orange lily symbolizes hatred and dislike while the tiger lily stands for wealth and prosperity.

What Common Flowers Are In Ecuador?

There are a number of flowers that can be found in Ecuador. These include roses and orchids. As far as the orchids are concerned, the most common one is the Dracula orchid. Ecuadorian roses are long stemmed and come in various colours such as red, yellow and purple. The rose flower is also the Ecuadorian flower emblem.

Rising fuel prices worry Kenya’s flower industry

Farmers in the hub of Kenya’s thriving flower industry fear the rise in fuel prices in east Africa’s biggest economy could harm one of the country’s top exchange earners by raising flight and fertiliser charges.

Flower farmers located north of Kenya’s capital around the town of Naivasha, said on Thursday they were also concerned that the cost of production, which has spiked already, could soar further if unions win their quest for higher wages for workers.

An official at Van Den Berg Roses, a leading flower farm in the country whose roses are sold in flower shops in Europe, said flight charges were up by 50 percent compared with the same period last year, which is considered a low season.

“During the low season, between May 16 and September 14, flight charges come down significantly. This has not happened this year, and compared to last year, the flight charges have gone up by 50 percent due to the rise in oil prices globally,” said George Onyango, Van Den Berg Roses Human Resource Manager.

Kenya’s fuel prices have risen due to higher international oil prices, piling pressure on inflation.

On fertilizer, Onyango said the prices had risen by 10 percent compared to last year.

Jack Kneppers, the director of Maridadi flower farms, another big producer, said flight charges and fertilizer prices had gone up considerably, pushing the cost of production higher.

“Three-quarters of the flower farms are making very small profits,” he said.

Flower farmers — whose business nestles on the shores of Kenya’s Lake Naivasha which draws tourists — are still recovering from the volcanic ash and cold weather last year that hit Europe, their main market, which was also hit by the effects of the global financial downturn.

Despite the woes, horticulture, which includes flower sales, was a top foreign exchange earner alongside tea, tourism and remittances, and brought in 78 billion shillings ($895.8 million) in 2010 from 71.6 billion shillings a year before.

Onyango and Kneppers said the threat of a national workers’ strike by Kenya’s main union could hit the sector hard. The country’s umbrella union has said it will call a strike unless the government raises wages further to help workers cope with rising food and fuel prices. A final decision on whether to strike or not is due at a meeting by union leaders this weekend.

The government raised the minimum wage by 12.5 percent on May 1, but the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) has said this is not enough and demanded a 60 percent pay rise for its members.

Source: Reuters

Eastern Europe’s economic gloom slows Kenya flower sales

Depressed purchasing power in Eastern Europe is slowing down efforts by exporters of fresh produce to make inroads into the emerging market

Growth in local production has piled pressure on exporters to find outlets for Kenya’s produce outside Western Europe with Russia a potential entry point to countries like Hungary, Turkey, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia.

“The market has been slow in coming through because the buying power is still developing. Flowers are also viewed as luxuries” said Dr Stephen Mbithi, the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya executive.

Migration of skilled labourers to Western Europe after the countries joined the European Union has also skimmed off the middle segment of the population that has substantial spending power.

Initial projections had indicated that the region can take up about a quarter of what goes to Western Europe which translates to exports worth $250 million (Sh20 billion) with Russia, Poland, and the Cesc Republic seen as the most viable markets.

Countries in Eastern Europe lie in the Northern Hemisphere which experiences acute cold in some parts of the year, forcing them to import most of their winter supplies which include horticultural products, providing a potential market for producers like Kenya.

Few quantities of Kenyan flowers have been making their way to Eastern Europe through the Netherlands flower auction.

Kenyan exporters have already moved to establish links with the new markets through several trade shows in Russia where Kenyan exporters have displayed vegetables and cut flowers.

According to the Horticultural Crops Development Authority marketing manager, Mr Edward Maina, another trade fair is planned for this August in Russia where Kenyan produce is expected to be exhibited.

Ethiopia which is one of the fastest growing exporters of flowers to Europe is giving stiff competition to Kenya in Eastern Europe.

Ethiopia has been doing better than Kenya in Eastern Europe mainly due to a market preference for larger headed flowers which it produces due to climatic conditions in the country.

The country is now the second largest exporter of cut flowers to Europe after Kenya, by-passing Zimbabwe which saw a sharp decline caused by political turmoil.

Source: Business Daily

KEPHIS organize a Course on Drafting Standards and Developing Science Based Arguments

KEPHIS, with of the East African Community and African Union organized a drafting standards and developing science based arguments course on 9th to 11th May 2011 at their headquarters. The objectives was to create and improve the capacity of the officials whose jobs entail preparing standards and other measures that facilitate trade between countries through Multilateral agreements  for example between Kenya and EU or EAC and EU.

The participants were made to understand that trade agreements are based on measures or standards created or prepared by experts within three International Standards Setting Organizations, ISSOs. They include the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC); which has a membership of over 173 member states, Codex Alimementarius Commission (CODEX), which has membership of over 180 member states, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) which has a membership of over 175 states.

The standards or measures prepared by the three standard setting bodies must be done within the WTO agreement and Articles of the agreement that has been ratified and signed by the member states. For example, Members are allowed to take measures or adopt standards or enforcing measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health. This is subject to the requirement that these measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between Members where the same conditions prevail or a disguised restriction on international trade. The measures should not amount to trade barriers. Each member state has one vote and  the casting is done during the adoption of the measures and standards before they are implemented.

Course objectives

1.       To set standards or measures that provide appropriate sanitary and phytosanitary protection of the plants. CODEX was founded by WHO and FAO to develop food standards, codes of practice, guidelines and recommendations. One of the objectives of the OIE is to safeguard world trade by publishing health standards for international trade in animals and animal products.

2.       To ensure that the enquiry points in Kenya on the three areas which include KEPHIS for Sanitary and Phytonitary Measures, Ministry of Public Health for food measures and Ministry of Livestock for animal health measures involve the private sector in setting the standards that facilitate trade in their respective areas.

It was observed that there is need to have the public – private participation increased and awareness done to raise the level of private sector contribution during the development of the standards. Under the IPPC secretariat guidance, SPS standards are set through Technical working groups comprised of experts through defined process or procedure. The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) approves new topics for International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM). International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures provides the experts drafting groups with directions on what to consider while drafting the ISPM.

Notifications are notices that are given by countries that wish to take measures on the above three areas of trade. The notifications are sent to the country enquiry points which are required to participate in the approval of the standard or measure proposed through the notifications through the Committees established and charged with the responsibility of reviewing the standards in the country. The committees liase with Ministry of Trade.

The Kenya Flower Council is expected to play a role in contributing to those standards or measures that affect the flower trade.  All measures and standards must be based on science based arguments such as risk assessments on prevalence rate of pests and diseases and applicable control measures in place and are within the WTO and respective Articles of agreement of the three sister ISSOs. The KFC Principal auditor from KFC attended the above three day course.

For more information: www.IPPC.nit, www.codexalimentarius.net.

Enhancing Horticultural Productivity
The potential value of several horticultural crops per hectare is more than 6 times that of cereals. As such, the horticultural industry should focus on intended target commodities and expected outputs to trigger productivity in all the various sub-sectors which show potential.

Most of the horticultural commodities in Kenya are sold in their raw form at the lowest price especially when there is a glut. More income could be generated through value addition to reduce post-harvest losses and lengthen shelf-life.

Solution to overcoming the challenges and unlocking the potential of the horticultural sector in Kenya is to form strong Producer Groups, Marketing Alliances and Producer Researcher Working Groups who also interact with Trade Support Institutions.

There is need for substantive investments in irrigation, biotechnology, plant breeding, postharvest technologies, pest and disease management and food safety to sustain the projected growth indices.

Source: EPC

Reasonable Satisfactory Mother’s Day Results

2011 Mother’s Day prices were indeed lower than last year; but compared to 2009 and 2008 it was not bad at all. Actually, the results are quite similar to those of 2007. In other words, 2010 Mother’s Day sales were extremely good, probably the best in 20 years back, due to lack of supply because of the Ash Cloud.  This year’s market was again “normal good”.

Cut flowers’ average auction price for the two ‘mother’s weeks’ was about  –8.5% lower than in 2010; quantities were some  –1.5% lower, hence – a lower sales turnover in the auctions.  The turnover was higher than in 2009 and 2008.

All the auctions reported of high pressure because of top quantities. It seems that all of them managed to successfully cope with the challenge.  The summery weather was “consumers friendly”, and Mother’s Day has proved again its central role in the yearly floriculture market.

A few products fetched good prices, in multi-yearly terms. Among them were chrysant’s spray, gerbera, leucadendron, lily longiflorum, and ruscus. However, pricing of other products like anemones, aster, eustoma, hypericum, limonium, ranunculus, small roses, tulips, wax flowers, was somewhat disappointing.

Source: Floraholland

Dutch Rose Promotion is about to start

The Netherlands’ rose growers have decided to start promoting the roses with no delay, and to continue negotiating with foreign growers on participating in the campaign at a later phase. So far, the confirmed resources for the budget come from the breeders, and from some 50% of the rose growing acreage in Holland. Hence, the initial phase of the campaign would focus on promoting Dutch roses among the wholesale sector (Business to Business). The campaign among consumers will start at a later time, hopefully with funds from the international producers. Some 85% of the roses consumed in Europe nowadays come from countries outside of Europe.

Holland Flower Council (BBH) carries out the campaign. Participating growers are requested to contribute € 1,000 per ha. FloraHolland provides the campaign with organizational support.

Source: Vakblad vd Bloemisterij

Easter and Mother’s Day cause peak in supply to FloraHolland Naaldwijk

The FloraHolland Naaldwijk flower auction is currently experiencing a peak in the supply of products. The supply of plants particularly is far above the normal level. This is partly due to the many plant and flower-related days in spring and the recent summer weather which has influenced the amount of supply that is being brought to the clock.

“Sales were good on the day after Easter and in the week before Mother’s Day,” explains Clock Sales Team Leader Ferry Haring. “The processes ran smoothly and there was sufficient demand.” On the Tuesday following Easter, FloraHolland Naaldwijk sold almost 16,000 trolleys of plants and cut flowers via the clock.

Demand for special product
Just before Mother’s Day, FloraHolland auctioned a great many plants and flowers at its location in the Westland area of the Netherlands. This year, however, the supply of cut flowers to FloraHolland Naaldwijk from import countries was 18% lower in the week before Mother’s Day and average price achieved lower price as well in the same calendar week. This year, the average price for the Dutch supply was somewhat lower than in 2010. The amount of Dutch product offered via the clock was 6.7% higher in 2010 than 2011.

This year’s summery weather in the run-up to Mother’s Day caused a large and varied supply to be offered at the plant clock. Buyers had plenty of choice: in comparison to last year, the supply of house plants had jumped by 16% and that of garden plants by 30%. However, the large volume of supplied products put the average price under pressure. In the week proceeding Mother’s Day, buyers were particularly interested in the supply of special products. The demand remained high on the Monday after Mother’s Day, too. After all, there were stores and shelves to refill.

With Whitsun (Pentecost) approaching, FloraHolland is once again preparing itself for several busy days.

Changes grading marks ornamental fruit

As per 23 May 2011 all the product codes from ornamental fruit per piece the third grading mark will change form S22 (minimum flower diameter) to S48 (minimum fruit diameter).

Please contact your account manager for more information.
Source: FloraHolland

Colombian Flower Cultivation to be More Sustainable

The president of the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters (Asocolflores) and the Deputy Minister for the Environment have signed an agreement to strengthen environmental management in the sector through sustainable flower cultivation. The accord signed by the president of Asocolflores, Augusto Solano, and Environmental Deputy Minister Carlos Castaño, aims to protect natural resources by reducing the consumption of water and energy in the production of flowers.

The flower exporters guild, whose 200 member companies export 70% of Colombia’s flowers, pledged to develop measures that minimize the use of resources by utilizing more practices from the use of more rainwater in irrigation to the measured consumption of water and energy overall.
Solano stated, “Among our members we are strengthening the ‘Green Flower’ philosophy which is already 15 years old. This is a socio-environmental program which is recognized by markets and guarantees that the flowers are produced under good labour practices and environmental standards.”

However, the strong Peso is the main worry. “Colombian flower exporters are more concerned about the strong Peso than about the Heavy rains’ damage” says Augusto Solano. The US Dollar has lost already 7.6% of his value against the Colombian Peso this year. Growers get less Pesos for their sales in the USA. Solano expects forced dismissal of workers, if the Dollar will further weaken.

Sources: Colombia Reports/La Republica, + Vakblad vd Bloemisterij + FloraHolland

A bouquet of scented weapons

Religion and culture, like ham-and-eggs, go so powerfully together that they mingle, as the ancient Tamil Sangam poet would say, like ‘red earth and pouring rain’. ‘Flower power’ then assumes a whole new meaning, because every religion and every culture uses flowers as greeting cards to God and to each other, alive or dead. However, it’s also possible to enjoy ‘flower culture’ without needing to belong to the religion it derived from. Ikebana is one such brilliant example.

As everyone knows, Ikebana began as meditational offerings at Buddhist temples by medieval Japanese monks and in the last century, this art of stylized and meaningful flower-and-foliage arrangement has evolved into an international interest with Ikebana associations around the world.

Every culture seems to have a flower code, the latest widely-discussed instance being Catherine Middleton’s bridal bouquet. The red rose is surely the global queen, because everyone now associates it with love tokens, although I have to admit to a sneaking fondness for the spectacular long-stemmed yellow variety called ‘American Beauty’. But imagine in the present climate if someone were to ban yellow roses just because one variety has an American association. How paranoid is that? It’s quite easy to imagine, alas, that someone in India could raise an objection, predictably around Valentine’s Day, to red roses as a ‘foreign flower’. This, despite knowing (and it’s so tempting to add “full well”) that red roses are heaped in abundance on the altars and shrines of every religious and denominational persuasion.  Well, as everyone also knows, all fundos are baton-brothers in their poverty of imagination.

Meanwhile, it’s so sad to think of the poor little ‘ketaki’ being banned from pujas, if not as a pretty name for girls, all because of the myth that she was forced to commit perjury by Brahma (a delicious story, perhaps another time).  And can you ever look at a blade of grass the same way again, knowing that seventeen-year-old Sita all alone in the Ashoka Vana, lays a single, fragile blade of it between herself and the huge, looming figure of Ravan, to indicate her moral and emotional resistance to him?  The Arabs just had themselves a ‘jasmine revolution’, for jasmine is the true queen of Asia, from Turkey to China. And now they say the jasmine is banned across the high snows yonder.  With Buddha Purnima on Tuesday, ought we to say, “Power to the pipal”?

source: Hindustan Times – Renuka Narayanan

Minding your health

The rains have been pounding these last few days, people start sniffling at work and the kids come home with coughs and runny noses.

Germs seem to be everywhere you turn! Before you start running in the opposite direction from anyone who sneezes, you have to realize that cold time of the year is upon us and you simply have to do your best to stay healthy. Even though researchers know how to eradicate the existence of several life threatening diseases, no one knows how to eliminate the common cold. However, it is possible to keep off colds and flu’s by eating healthy during this period.

Foods that may boost immune system
Researchers are finding positive links between immune function and components in food. If you or your kids seem to get one cold after another, you’ll want to make sure they eat plenty of immune-building foods.
•    Garlic may boost your immune system, increasing resistance to infections. To get the immune power from garlic, add them to your food when cooking, this releases the garlic juice, which has great immune properties.
•    Cheese and other dairy products contain conjugated linoleic acid, a natural component of dairy fat which has boosted immune response in animal studies.
•    Yogurt and other cultured milk products contain probiotics, beneficial bacterial with immune-boosting benefits. Look for the “live active culture” seal, which indicates that probiotics have been added.
•    Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices, may also help the body’s immune system.
•    Zinc, found in meat, chicken, peanuts and peanut butter, plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system in the body.

Foods that heal
•    Fresh ginger root can help you when you are sick by inducing sweating and decreasing nausea and a runny stomach. Make ginger tea by grating a piece of fresh ginger in some water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste.
•    Chicken soup and warm beverages increase the flow of nasal secretions, helping alleviate cold symptoms. Of course, the taste and wonderful aroma of chicken soup may be an important part of the beneficial effects.
•    Healthy eating during cold and flu periods means getting the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating balanced meals that contain a variety of foods from all food groups.

Keeping the germs away
•    The most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands. A common way to get a cold is by rubbing your nose or eyes, so to guard yourself against infection, wash your hands frequently.
•    Your hands pick up germs from other people or from contaminated surfaces and hand washing prevents you from infecting yourself with the germs.
•    Other good health practices are not sharing cups or silverware and wiping high-contact items, such as doorknobs, faucets and telephones, with soap and water.

Boost your immune system
Even when your hands are clean, staying healthy means more than simply avoiding germs. Healthy bodies have an easier time fighting off infection. To stay healthy and boost your immune system:
•    Get plenty of rest
•    Eat well-balanced meals
•    Exercise regularly
•    Decrease constant worries
•    Cut back on unhealthy habits, such as excessive drinking
•    Exercising produces positive effects on the immune system over time, this means getting fewer colds and other infections

Feeling better

For most of us getting sick is a part of life. If you do get a cold or the flu, the following advice still holds true
To feel better while you are sick:
•    Drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest
•    Use a humidifier – to moisten mucus membranes
•    Add immune-boosting foods to your grocery list during this time
•    When you are sick, stay home so you don’t infect others. If you do go out and need to sneeze or cough, use a tissue or sneeze or cough into your sleeve or upper arm. Don’t do it into your hand, since you can spread the illness to others by touching people or handling objects that others may use.

Source: AAR

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