June Issue 1 2011

NSSF shelves its new directive on new rules for payment of contributions as it consults other stakeholders’ before implementation

KEPSA had formally written to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), asking it to shelve its recent notice in the mainstream media requiring NSSF customers (especially employers remitting contributions, rent  and other related payments)  to do so  through Bankers Cheques or Real Time Gross Settlement (RTDS) only. The notice, which was to take effect, last month informed the customers that NSSF will henceforth not accept Company and Personal Cheques.

In a letter to its Managing Trustee, KEPSA sought clarification on the possible cost implication on the directive to businesses. KEPSA listed various matters of concern as follows:

  • The manner in which the directive was issued did not take into account the cost implication to employers especially Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) and those with few staff including domestic house helps;
  • The directive did not reflect any prior stakeholders consultation which negates the very  essence of Partnership Dialogue, taking into account that NSSF is hedged on Social Partners relationship;
  • The process adds an extra cost to business in terms of  time spent in banking halls queuing for Bankers Cheques and the related bank charges every month thereof;
  • Issuing of Bouncing Cheques is a criminal offence in Kenya.  NSSF should therefore deal with individuals/employers who issue bouncing cheques and not issue a blanket directive which is punitive to those who have religiously been paying their contributions without a problem;
  • NSSF should have accounts in all the major banks, just like Kenya Revenue Authority KRA, so that businesses are able to deposit their contributions directly in the normal course of their banking activities; and
  • The recent move by the Central Bank of Kenya and Kenya Bankers Association to use the latest technology to reduce the number of days for cheque clearance is a welcome move. With this CBK/KBA move, NSSF’s directive restricting contributors to two modes of payment is a backward move that portrays under-utilization of ICT to reduce cost of documentation and business.

KEPSA will keep members updated on the next course of action once communicated from NSSF.

Introducing Heidi!® – VBN: 17991

Heidi!® will be introduced at FH ‘Aalsmeer – and will be available daily as from June 1st at the Fleur Primeur Group at Clock 12. Heidi!® is a special variety with an exquisite pink colour. She is one of the most promising roses in the pink color segment from ‘Schreurs.

Heidi!® is a high quality rose with a large and attractive flower head. She has very few thorns, a good stem length and a remarkable vase life. It is grown in Ethiopia by Tinaw Business Share Company.

Pursuant to the requirements of the Factories and Other Places of Work
(Safety & Health Committee) Rules, 2004, LN 31 Universal Work Health & Safety Consultancy Ltd are organizing the above mentioned course for competent persons and secretaries of Health and Safety Committees. The company is an associate member of Kenya Flower Council.

The Target Group for the training are Secretaries of health & safety committees, mid and Senior Level Management staff who deal with safety, health and environmental issues.

SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT

ü Health and safety legislations (OSHA)

ü New Labour Laws

ü Health and Safety Management Systems

ü Accident investigation, reporting and statistics

ü Risk assessment, Workplace inspection

ü Health and safety policies- organization and implementation

ü Environmental management

ü Managing Safely

ü Occupational Diseases

ü Industrial hygiene

ü Plant, Electrical & Machinery Safety

ü First Aid Management

ü Ergonomics

ü Stress & stress management

ü Human anatomy and physiology

ü HIV/AIDS in the workplace

ü Accident causation and prevention


Training Details:

  • Commencement date 13th June 2011
  • Duration 12 (Twelve) days exclusive on Sundays.
  • Venue Midland Hotel, Nakuru.
  • Cost Kshs.85, 000/= per participant Exclusive VAT.

The stated costs cover: Full board accommodation, resource persons, training materials, stationery and certificates.

For more information please contact them via + 254 (0) 51 2213334, + 254 (0) 20 2424510 or info@universalwhsafety.com

Kindly note that:

  1. They  are Duly registered with DIT (Directorate Of Industrial Training).  Participating organizations are able to claim back fees from the directorate
  1. They also are registered and are corporate members of: DOHSS (Directorate of Occupational Health and safety Services).KFC, KOSHA and PTAK

Wildlife numbers in the Mara on the decline

‘’The status of Masai Mara as a prime conservation area and premier tourist draw card in Kenya may soon be in jeopardy” Dr Joseph Ogutu Senior statistician in the Bioinformatics unit of the University of Hohenheim

The BBC has published an article from the Journal of Zoology on the decline of Wildlife species in the Masai Mara. The Mara has lost more than two thirds of its wildlife.

A few highlights from the article on http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/13573912

  • Numbers of impala, warthog, giraffe, topi and Coke’s hartebeest have declined by over 70%
  • The declines are particularly surprising, say the scientists, as they had expected animal populations to have recovered since 2000-2001.
  • The great wildebeest migration now involves 64% fewer animals than it did in the early 1980s
  • During the wet season, when there is no migration, resident wildebeest in the reserve have all but disappeared, falling by 97%.
  • Zebra numbers residing inside the reserve have also fallen by three-quarters.
  • Dr Joseph Ogutu, a senior statistician in the Bioinformatics unit of the University of Hohenheim, Germany conducted the study with colleagues there and at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kenya part of elephant E – 8 group

Eight countries with the largest number of elephants met for the first time last week in New Delhi to plot new strategies to protect the animal.

“Delegates here represent two-thirds of the world’s wild elephant population,” Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told the inaugural gathering of the Elephant-8 group. “From poaching for their ivory to habitat loss, every issue to conserve the elephant needs to be addressed.”

The meeting was attended by delegates from Botswana, Congo, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

‘Inspector’s statement’ in English

As per 25th of May 2011 FloraHolland Rijnsburg will be providing the service ‘inspector’s statement’ in English. In this regard, international growers who have already subscribed to this service will get feedback of the inspection remarks in English.  Interested Growers can apply for the service via myFloraHolland.com or via their (local) account manager. This new service will be expanded over the other concerns (Aalsmeer, Naaldwijk) in a few weeks.

What is it?
Would you like to be informed as soon as the quality inspector detects a problem with your supplied product? Or get feedback on all complaints from buyers leading to inspection remarks? This is possible with the Quality Inspector’s Notes service. Once the quality inspector detects quality defects, we notify you via text message or e-mail. We will only send you a message if our random inspection of your lots leads to an inspection remark. Also applicable: no news is good news.  The inspection remarks can in any case be found on your daily statement, but with this service, you will also be notified immediately.

How do I benefit?
If you receive an inspection remark directly after detection by text message or e-mail, you will know that there was something wrong with your supplied product. You can then take the appropriate measures at your company right away. You can thus ensure that the quality of the following lot is satisfactory. It is the quickest way for you to react to inspection remarks. This is useful, because a possible re-inspection has financial implications.

Advantages
– Immediate feedback in the event of an inspection remark
– Free
– Notification via text message or e-mail
– Fastest way to prevent recurrence
– Avoid re-inspection, save costs

what does it cost?
This service is for free.

US on Free Trade Agreements With Colombia

The Obama administration took an important step toward ratifying a free trade agreement with Colombia when it announced it was starting “technical discussions” with Congress on details of the agreement. These discussions are the first step in the deliberate process Congress must undertake before approving a trade pact. When ratified by Congress, the free trade agreement with Colombia would give duty-free status to all flowers coming into the United States from Colombia.

Although there appears to be general support in Congress for the agreement – the pact is still controversial, with labor and business groups gearing up for a showdown this summer. Labor groups claim the pact sends jobs overseas, and they continue to have deep concerns over treatment of organized labor in Colombia – despite the country’s agreement to take a series of steps to protect unions and labor leaders.

Congressional campaigns are underway to promote California Grown Flowers as America’s Flowers. In addition to encouraging consumers to “buy local” by asking for California Grown flowers this Mother’s Day, California’s farmers are asking Congress to intervene on their behalf while the Administration negotiates a permanent free-trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia. “California has experienced significant farm and production loss as a result of current trade preferences,” explained California Cut Flower Commission CEO/Ambassador Kasey Cronquist. “We can’t afford further erosion of a vital industry that could be lost to this pending trade agreement with Colombia.”

A group of California flower farmers recently met with members of Congress in Washington DC to raise their concerns about the pending FTA with Colombia. Senators and 39 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama reminding him of the adverse impacts facing California’s flower farmers as the Administration prepares the FTA for Congressional approval. They also urged that the Obama Administration support a new transport and logistics system for local cut flower farmers.

While no timetable has been set, there is hope in Congress that the agreement can be ratified before the August congressional recess, which begins August 8.

Sources: FloraHolland

Flora buyers mainly judge by smell and look

A recent study by the Horticultural Product Board highlights how Dutch customers primarily pay attention to look and smell when buying flora. Plants that look well taken care of and come with clear tips regarding their maintenance are sold more often than others, with the price being of much less significance.

In fact, both price and packaging seem to affect the decision as to what flower or plant to buy to a very minor extent, the poll indicates. A good appearance is the primary aspect determining a buyer’s interest, while durability and novelty also help increase it. Moreover, plant buyers desire to be inspired during shopping, which can for example be achieved by mixing other products in with the plants, or by showcasing plant arrangements and/or combinations of pots and plants.

Useful plant care tips with the products are also valued highly by the majority of consumers. Unfortunately, the study also shows that this is an aspect where florists regularly drop the ball, as the information is often considered to be either too sparse or in fact frighteningly dense. Somewhat surprisingly, brochures and leaflets hanging nearby the plants are often not even spotted by customers, as they tend to only survey the store at eye-height.

When it comes to buying flowers, a solid 90 percent of all customers also deem it of paramount importance that the flowers are properly fragrant. Interestingly, florists turn out to value that criterion much less when deciding on what to stock.

For Dutch consumers, garden centers remain the primary channel for buying plants. The vast inventory and the appealing price level are mentioned as the key reasons for that preference.

The study was done among plant-buying customers at garden centers and may therefore be weighted somewhat in their favor, but the conclusions should provide plenty of food for thought for florists as well.

Sources: Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij & Productschap Tuinbouw + florint

FloraHolland Award 2011 winners announced

The winners of De Glazen Tulp 2011 were announced on 26th May 2011 at the Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen, the Netherlands. Each year, FloraHolland presents this award to the most promising new product in the categories cut flowers, houseplants, garden plants and sales concepts. Four Golden Tulips were presented at a festive gathering. TV presenter and jury chairman Rob Verlinden had the honour of announcing the winners.

Besides the Golden Tulips, a new large-flowered rose from breeder Lex+ was named after Dutch TV presenter Myrna Goossen. At the flower christening, Goossen expressed her delight at receiving the honour.

“It’s an honour for me that this beautiful rose carries my name. Lex+ has given it the most beautiful name there is, because my name means ‘peacemaker’. I hope that every one of these roses brings peace, whatever its destination might be.”

winners for the Garden Plants category were:

First prize: Lilium formosanum ‘White Crane’ — Kwekerij Tass from Wateringen.

Second prize: Dicentra ‘Burning Hearts’ — V.O.F. G.C. van Woudenberg from Zevenhuizen.

Third prize: Felicia amelloides ‘Felicitara Blue’ — Kwekerij W & A de Rijke from Poeldijk.

The jury found Lilium formosanum ‘White Crane’ really a plant to be experienced in terms of its color, breeding and scent. Their report pronounced, “A plant with gorgeous compact lilies, frequent-flowering and eminently suitable for balcony and patio.”

The winners for the Houseplants category were:

First prize: Hippeastrum Double Diamond Group ‘Alfresco’ — Fa L.G. Vreugdenhil & Zn from ’s Gravenzande.

Second prize: Zantedeschia ‘Odessa’ — by growers including Dynaplant BV from De Lier and Fa L.G. Vreugdenhil & Zn from ’s Gravenzande.

Third prize: Begonia (Elatior Group), double-flowered, ‘Grace’ J.&.P. ten Have BV from Maasland.

The Hippeastrum Double Diamond Group ‘Alfresco’ which boasts a stunningly beautiful double flower, flowers very abundantly. As the jury put it, “An internationally-appealing product, and unique for its four stems. Plenty of return on your investment with this one.”

The winners for the Concepts category were:

First prize: Phalaenopsis ‘Royal Blue’ from the Royal Family collection by Geest Orchideeën from De Lier.

Second prize: Vanda Touch of Nature – Handelskwekerij L. vd Weijden BV from Kudelstaart.

Third prize: Phalaenopsis ‘Singolo’ — Opti-flor B.V. from Monster.

From the Royal Family collection, the Phalaenopsis Royal Blue is very innovative and stylish because of its delightful shade of blue. “Consumers will be fighting to lay hands on it,” the jury felt.

The winners for the Cut Flowers category were:

First prize: Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Spike’ — Pieter Kolk from Aalsmeer, Ko Kolk from Amstelveen and Sonneveld Hydrangea from Bleiswijk.

Second prize: Rosa ‘White Naomi!’ — Mermin Roses from Amstelveen, Roseworld from De Lier and Velden Roses from Wateringen.

Third prize: Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Alba’ — Jac. M. van Schagen from Heerhugowaard.

The jury found the winner, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Spike’, a magnificent fairytale of a flower, “despite its name!” They are confident that this product will be a runaway success commercially.

New products a key plank of Dutch floriculture sector’s success

Every year, hundreds of new products (‘novelties’) and concepts are introduced at FloraHolland. These are offered via auction clock sales but also go through the intermediary organization FloraHolland Connect. Historically, product innovation has always been important to the Dutch floricultural industry. New products help growers distinguish themselves among their customers, while for traders, they offer a chance to surprise the customer with something innovative.

Buyers and sellers joined in the voting

The winners are selected and nominated from among the hundreds of new cultivars and concepts introduced to auction each year. Until this year, it was an expert jury and a consumer-focused jury that made the nominations and selected the winners, with the trade also represented, as part of the expert jury. But this time, all buyers and sellers, too, were able to lend their own weight of influence by indicating from the outset which products in each of the four categories were their favourites. Florists, retailers and garden centres are always on the lookout for innovations to entice customers. Buyers and sellers with export firms, traders and wholesalers are at the heart of the floriculture chain: thanks to the daily exposure they have to the market, they are in a good position to indicate which novelty has been the year’s most successful novelty product or concept.

Following several online voting rounds, and the expert jury making its deliberations, the consumer-focused jury met at the end of April to select the winners from among the nominated products. This second jury was made up of no lesser figures than fashion designer Addy van den Krommenacker, TV presenter Myrna Goossen, TV gardener Rob Verlinden and TV trend watcher Romeo Sommers. They considered from a commercial perspective which of the nominations best fitted the current trends and suited the contemporary consumer.

“Nowadays, growers are not only busy growing nice products, they are increasingly wanting to produce and deliver added value with their product. Which is good to see,” said jury chairman Rob Verlinden.

Winners on Rob’s TV program on SBS6

In its program “Rob’s Great Garden Renovation” (Rob’s Grote Tuinverbouwing), Dutch broadcaster SBS6 will be presenting a summary of the jury deliberations and the prize-giving ceremony for De Glazen Tulp 2011, in the 11 June edition, from 5:00 to 6:00pm.

The winners will also be promoted in the customer-focused FloraHolland Magazine. Additionally, the winning products are to be presented at several trade fairs in the Netherlands and abroad, as well as in FloraHolland’s presentation areas. The winners received the original award and also a gift token for two people to enjoy a FloraHolland trends workshop for free.

Vietnam eyes foreign flower markets, but struggles

The Vietnamese ministry of Industry and Trade has been looking to increase the country’s flower exports in recent times, but keeps running into obstacles. The drafted expansion plan, which addresses targeting the Canadian, U.S. and European markets, highlights the need for a strong legal framework as well as technological advancement to increase productivity and product quality.

The main reasons for the country’s inability to get a proper foothold in foreign markets have been the relatively limited cultivation areas as well as the high expectations consumers abroad have regarding flower quality. Satisfying those demanding customers has proved exceptionally difficult, which is illustrated by the fact that only 5 percent of the 1.2 billion flower stems grown in the Da Lat region meet the criteria for export.

Trinh Khac Quang, head of the Vietnamese Institute for Vegetable and Fruit Research, points out that the prevalence of household-based cultivation has resulted in a lower flower quality. Especially when compared to flowers from other parts of the region, the difference is noticeable, he says. The result is that only a few foreign companies and private firms that were able to invest in modern production techniques managed to successfully export their flowers.

Vietnam grew an estimated 4.5 billion flower stems in total last year. The billion that were shipped abroad nonetheless netted the country about 42 million euros in revenue.

Sources: Vietnamnet, Vietnamplus & Flower Focus


India sees demand for flowers increase

As the country advances on the path of economic prosperity, more and more Indians are starting to see flowers as consumption goods, reports from the world’s second most populous nation indicate. Demand is increasing annually and many local flower growers are running fruitful businesses, but successful export has yet to materialize.

The amount of land the country dedicates to flower production rose by an estimated 55 percent in the 2005 to 2010 period, to a total of 183.000 hectares. At the same time, the number of flower stems produced actually increased even more, from 2.071 million in ‘04/’05 to 6.667 million in the year 2010.

It is primarily the increasingly affluent Indian middle class that buys flowers for use during their lavish ceremonies and festivals. “They are ready to pay for flowers like gerbera and gladioli, which are new to them”, Rahul Pawar, a local flower grower, explains. “Previously, people had been using flowers only for big functions. But now, even for a small function they are buying”, a different flower trader from the city of Pune explains the rising demand.

Prices still remain highly seasonal, making life difficult for the growers sometimes. The significant investment required can also pose a dilemma for cultivators, although the relatively large returns make up for that once all goes well: “Flowers are giving much higher returns than other traditional crops. But the initial investment is very high. You have to wait for four to five years for breakeven”, Pawar comments.

Exporting for the global market still barely happens. A lack of proper cold storage facilities is the primary reason for the tiny amounts of Indian flowers shipped abroad.

Sources: Florint

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