Flower Industry Focuses on Sustainability, they say?

Kenya Flower Council in conjunction with Union Fleurs and Floriculture Sustainability Initiative hosted a conference in Nairobi on 6th June 2013 where pertinent issues pertaining to flower industry sustainability were discussed. In his opening remarks, the chairman to Kenya Flower Council Mr Richard Fox emphasised on the importance of the Sustaining the flower industry. He highlighted on various action plan in place to ensure sustainability such as Imarisha Lake Naivasha initiate, social responsibility and safe production through industry practice and reinforcement of standards.

DSC_0006Mr. Hans Wolff the outgoing Counsellor for Economy, Agriculture & Innovation to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda&UNEP gave a highlight of the Flower industry in the Eastern African Region over the last three years. He stated that the Kenya’s flower industry has grown tremendously compared to the 80’s. However, branding the Kenya flowers and its importance to the economy of Kenya is still a challenge giving a loop hole to negative publicity through media and Non-governmental organizations. The Netherlands Embassy through Kenya Flower Council has rolled out a project as a way to ensure sustainability through National Mechanism for industry wide compliance to streamline the value chain through best practises.

Expounding on the National Mechanism for industry wide Mechanism, The CEO Kenya Flower Council explained the aim is to assure sustained access to international markets, by establishing a national framework for industry-wide compliance to industry requirements. She heighted that despite the milliard of both public and private tools governing regulation of the industry in the realm of labour standards and use, protection and stewardship of natural resources,misinformation and  misrepresentation continues to irk the flower industry. The expected output from the mechanism shall include reviewed Kenya Standard 1758:2004, with sub-scopes on good practice for Breeders and propagators, consolidators, cargo handlers and shippers.

At the European Union there are emerging Phytosanitary Issues that can affect sustainability, Silvie Mamias from Union Fleurs explained.Appropriate anticipation, prevention and management of phytosanitary issues at the earliest stage and along the  wholesupplychainwill help limit the impact on companies. This mainly on  extra costs for rejection at EU borders and unnecessary administrative burden as well as enable optimisation of the costslinked to achievingcompliancewith the requirements of the EU phytosanitaryregulations and ensure a stable access to export markets in the long-term. In addition,contribute to sustainablemarketgrowthunderlevel-playingfield conditions.

Phytosanitary issues shouldbefullyintegrated in the risk management strategy of individualcompanies and of the global supplychain.

There are proposedreviews to the EU health plant regimefrom the currentlegislation-directive 2000/29/EC to EU regulation on plant health and Eu regulation on official controls. The objective of the review are ; a)Strike a balance between the need to protect the EU territory against the risks of plant pests and the need to minimize potential distortive effects on the trade; b)Favor a risk-based approach and risk-targeted measures; c) Promote prevention strategies to tackle phytosanitary issues at the earliest possible stage and avoid devastating outbreaks; d)Implement proportionate and uniform phytosanitary rules across the EU to ensure level-playing field conditions for operators.

The permanent secretary ministry of Agriculture Dr Romano Kiome, sitting in for Vice President William Ruto, cited there has been a high growth rates in the sector. The floriculture industry importance to Kenya’s economy could not be overlooked.  However bankers are reluctant to lend Agricultural initiatives terming them as risky ,Dr Kiome said, adding that “Only a mere three per cent of the total money lent to banks goes into the Agricultural sector, as opposed to Countries like India and Brazil which have put laws that banks must channel a certain per cent into the Agriculture sector”. Brazil’s law stipulates that 17 per cent of money lent by banks goes into the Agricultural sector.

Dr Kiome tasked the Horticultural Crops Development Authority, through Dr Alfred Serem, to convene an urgent stakeholders meeting so they can be taken through the legal procedures of the 2012 Agriculture Law.  The 2012 Agricultural policy is the blueprint that regulates all matters related to Agriculture. Displaying deep knowledge of the sector, Dr Kiome lauded the mainly private driven Floriculture industry which has grown from virtual non-existence in the mid 80’s to one of the Country’s largest foreign export earner, despite the myriad challenges facing the sector.

Dr Kiome challenged players in the sector to invest in solar and wind as energy sources, noting that energy is one of the factors of production that drive up the production costs of growing Floriculture products in the Country, promising the aid of the government in achieving this.

“The government is ready to support the sector in exploring new sources of energy’’, he said, adding that “the only way to compete and remain competitive in the business is have a major flower auction in Kenya”.

Dr Kiome said this while questioning the assembled stakeholders on why Kenya is not yet an auction centre, yet it is a major exporter of flowers to the EU with a 35 per cent market share, questioning why most flowers out of Kenya should first find their way to the Netherlands before being sold to other parts of the world.

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