KFC attends the East African Roundtable for Business Leaders
The Kenya Flower Council attended the East African roundtable for business leaders held on 8th November 2012, at Windsor Golf Hotel, Nairobi. The meeting was convened by the Global Compact Network Kenya, Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, and Global Business Initiative on Human Rights and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
The one-day roundtable was an exchange of ideas among senior business leaders in relation to a rapidly developing area of corporate responsibility – human rights in a business context. The session brought together experiences of global businesses plus key experts, to explore the relevance, challenges and ways forward for human rights and business in an East African context. The vision was to recognize East African business leadership towards knowing and showing that corporations can respect the dignity and rights of the people they impact and interact with. From a business perspective this supports an enhanced approach to global leadership and risk management, and can provide access to markets, customers and capital.
The main objectives were to:
- Clarify the link between human rights and business.
- Discuss the business case for using human rights as a way to understand and implement corporate responsibilities.
- Exchange good practices, dilemmas and the challenges for the continent in implementing the corporate responsibility to respect human rights in their operations.
- Identify the possible contributions of the business community to the human rights and the business and vice versa.
- Brainstorm a road map for exploring human rights and business in East Africa and across the continent
The forum focused on implementing corporate respect for human rights addressing the fast emergence and the important area of corporate responsibility together with the impacts, strategies and the business operations.
Several corporations from different industry sectors and operations in East Africa were given the opportunity to share about human rights journeys and the steps they have taken on the agenda within their companies while referencing their early policy commitments, efforts to understand key impacts and risks on human rights. They shared their good practices on the ground, demonstrating the translation of the corporate levels of commitment into the day to day interaction and decision making.
Among the companies represented included; Safaricom, Uniliver Tea, East African Breweries, Total Kenya, Shell, Uniliver East Africa, Kenya Power and Lighting company, Kapa Oil Refineries Ltd. BASF, Taha Chemicals Magadi and Novo Nordisk.
Welcome on Board…………
Penta Flowers is an agricultural entity specializing in the cultivation of rose flowers under greenhouse conditions. It is situated in three locations namely;
- Juja Farm; off Juja-Mukinye road,
- Ndarugu Farm; off Thika Road,
- Thika farm; off Gatanga road.
The farm was started in 1993 with a 3 ha of wooden greenhouses on the site referred to as the ‘Juja farm’. This area was later on expanded to 14 ha in 2000. The Ndarugu Farm began its operations in 2003 with 10 ha under production. On June 2007, Penta Flowers acquired an additional 119 hectares (Thika Farm) of which, 23 hectares is under rose production, 1 hectare is under gypsophilia production, 2 hectares (under limonium, solidago and hypericum), 44 hectares are under coffee production and a further 1.5 hectares has been set aside for phytosieuilus persimilis production (in a joint venture with the Real IPM company). The Juja and Ndarugu farms are entirely on hydroponics.
Flower production aspect
The roses are cultivated in greenhouses which cover a total area of 47 hectares (Ha). This is supplemented by outdoor ornamental crops; such as gypsophila, solidago and hypericum which account for a further, 2 Ha.
Water conservation plays a vital part of the farms activities and this is characterized by the presence of large, reservoir dams and an array of gutters used in the harvesting of rain water. The farm has managed to apply integrated crop management techniques into its production cycle. This is best illustrated by the presence of a robust, integrated pest management team.
The farm has implemented a waste collection and disposal system comprising ; the separation of waste into garbage skips, the use of deactivation pits, the development of constructed wetland systems and the composting of plant waste for own use.
The social aspect
Currently, Penta Flowers has an average workforce of 1,270 workers. The interests of the workers are catered for by special groups of elected persons, namely: The Shop stewards committee, Gender Committee, Occupational Health and Safety Committee, Joint Body (PEMA).
The Company is certified by MPS-GAP, MPS-ETI, MPS-SQ, MPS ABC, B.O.P.P. , and FLO-Cert. In addition, Penta Flowers is also registered within the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) database. The Kenya Flower Council will soon visit the farm for a pre audit.
No cause for alarm: Hivos Campaign
The Kenya ambassador to the Netherlands, H. E. Prof. Ruthie Chepkoech Rono has assured Kenya flower farmers that the country market in Europe is strong.
Responding to questions raised from a demonstration that was planned by a human rights activists group, Hivos, based at The Hague, Rono said the protest that was planned against flowers coming from Kenya never took place. “The protestors are acting on pure misinformation and the traders at the auction are surprised that some people can raise any complaints against Kenyan flowers. The buyers highly value flowers coming from Kenya and our quality is much higher than that of the competing nations,” Rono said through a telephone interview from The Hague.
The organizers of the demonstration had planned it to coincide with International Floriculture Trade Fair (IFTF), an international flower exhibition bringing all stakeholders in the flower industry globally.
The ambassador said the participants at the expo were mesmerised by a breath taking display presented by Kenyan companies who included Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA), Kenya Flower Council and 20 growers. “It is known worldwide that Kenya produces the best quality of roses and only a natural calamity can shake our market like it happened during Icelandic ash eruption,” she said adding that flower farmers in Kenya strictly follow the laid standards.
Among the issues that the demonstrators stated was that Kenya doesn’t not respect labour laws a claim that the ambassador strongly refuted saying that the government of Kenya has been in the fore front to ensure employers respect the human rights and follow the labour laws as stipulated in local and international regulations. She challenged any groups or individual with evidence of workers being mistreated to present to the relevant authorities and asked those trying to fight the Kenyan flower industry to come straight with their allegations.
Another issue that was being raised by the protestors was that Kenya flowers farmers are not practising sustainable water management in their farms. This is in contrast with even the activities that the Government of Netherlands has been involved in conjunction of the Government of Kenya and local flower farms. Early last month, the Agriculture counsellor at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kenya officiated the opening of modern water management technology at Van der Berg Roses in Naivasha.
The project is an initiative of Green Farming a program that aims to connect the horticultural networks of The Netherlands, Kenya and Ethiopia by setting up joint activities, projects or co-operations in the areas of research, development and production. The program is driven by the Dutch Government.
Energy was another issue that the protestors were citing. Unknown to them it only in Kenya that we have the biggest green energy project powering a flower farm, the Oserian geothermal power plant. Solar power has also been extensively utilised with the biggest solar power plant being found in Kenya at Bilashaka flowers also in Naivasha.
With a market share of over 50 per cent, Kenyan produce must be attracting close scrutiny, positive and negative. All the standards that are set for farmers are strictly observed and with supervision of KFC, farmers are always ensuring compliance. “Our flowers are sold in almost all corners here. The biggest supermarket with 700 outlets stocks flowers from Kenya,” said Rono adding that if it was a product with questionable traits back home then it would not have well embraced in markets abroad.
Together with other trade representatives who represent Kenya in the Netherlands, the Ambassador promised to iron out any issues that could there to “make sure our produce maintain the standards of the global market”. There is no cause for alarm at all.
By: Catherine Riungu
Remarkable new spray rose
One of the highlights shown by Dutch breeder Olij Roses during the International Floriculture Trade Fair (IFTF) in Netherlands, was a new yellow rose. Although not really visible at first sight, Catalina is a spray rose with about three big flowers on each stem.
Recently, Olij Roses started with the supply from their own facilities in Netherlands. Several trials are taking place on different farms in both South-America and Africa. Reasonable quantities of Catalina can be expected after about one year.
New certification body for British organisation BOPP
The British Ornamental Plant Producers Scheme (BOPP) has announced that Oxford-based NSF-CMi Certification Ltd will provide its evaluation services as of 1st November 2012. This follows the announcement in July by Santia Certification Ltd that it will no longer provide certification body services from 31st October 2012.
BOPP was developed by the industry for the industry to set high standards of professionalism in the way in which certificated businesses operate, and through unbiased and effective evaluation by a UKAS accredited Certification Body. BOPP members comprise producers from the bedding, pot plant and nursery stock sectors, cut flowers, bulbs, ornamental packhouses and growing media producers and supply products to the UK retail market.
NSF-CMi Certification is a recognized leader in providing certification services to the farming, processing & manufacturing, food service & hospitality and retail sectors. Since being established in 1985 NSF-CMi has grown into a highly regarded international company with offices throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. NSF-CMi has the breadth and depth of experience in the produce and ornamental sector coupled with a reputation for reliability and integrity. They are currently accredited to operate GLOBALGAP IFA V4, Tesco NURTURE and the
LEAF marque and BOPP will complement their portfolio of services.
Rebecca Grant of Joseph Rochford Gardens Ltd and Chairman designate of BOPP says “BOPP is delighted to have secured a new high calibre certification body so quickly. We are looking forward to making the most of NSF-CMi’s proven track record in this arena and benefiting from their experience to help us to move forward as a scheme and achieve our ambitious strategic aims.”