Roses, Alstroemeria, Hypericum, Anigozanthos and a great many more summer flowers – Kenya has a wide variety to offer. Although the country has long been a producer of cut flowers, it is generally only the big farms that have made a name for themselves. The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) is working to change that and networking European buyers with new generation farms. These small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are managed by well-trained Kenyan agricultural engineers and operate on Kenyan capital. Many of the employees have years of experience in flower cultivation and bring expertise often gained from large international farms.

Import Promotion Desk’s activities in Kenya

Kenya is internationally known as a flower nation and, above all, an exporter of roses. The eastern African country is now one of the most important producers of roses, but the product range of Kenyan flower farms is far wider. A large proportion of the cut flowers originate from farms managed and financed by foreign owners and come to Europe via the Netherlands. Many small and medium-sized importers lack the know-how and contacts to deliver directly to European importers. The Import Promotion Desk (IPD) has included Kenya in its programme as a partner country and is supporting
Kenyan producers in introducing their wide range of cut flowers to the European market. The IPD provides the necessary knowledge of market requirements, puts the smaller farms in contact with European importers and assists them in the negotiation stages

The IPD is also active in Ecuador and Colombia promoting the import of cut flowers. Other IPD sectors are: Fresh produce, natural food ingredients, pharmacy and cosmetic products, sustainable wood products and sustainable tourism. The IPD was established and implemented under the responsibility of the internationally active development organisation Sequa gGmbH in close cooperation with the Federal Association for Wholesale and Foreign Trade and Services (BGA). The IPD is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

A fresh perspective on flower country Kenya

The IPD buying mission took place from 6-10 June. Together with its Kenyan partner, Kenya Flower Council, proposed European buyers to visit nine new generation farms. From the start the buyers saw the diverse range of Kenyan flowers. In Nairobi they visited IFTEX, Kenya’s International Floriculture Trade Exhibition, already in its tenth year and this time with around 165 exhibitors.
“The exhibition had the character of a large flower market”, said Carsten Braukmann, Managing Director of “Florin Blumengroßhandel”. “I was struck by the hustle and bustle and the vitality. Anyone who wants to work with Kenya can see the diversity of Kenyan flower production at first glance here. In discussions with the producers, their professionalism shone through. These are specialists who live for flowers and deliver high quality.”

Advantage of SMEs: Open to new solutions

From Nairobi the trip went to Mount Kenya and Lake Naivasha. The new generation farms have established themselves in the classic flower-growing areas – but in the second row, so to speak. They use the favourable climate on the slopes of the Rift Valley with high levels of sunshine coupled with moderate temperatures. In addition, the location allows rapid access to the international airport in Nairobi, and thus relative proximity to the European sales markets. Before the farms were admitted to the IPD programme, they were visited by IPD experts and carefully evaluated. This ensures fulfilment of the most important criteria, like high quality, minimum quantities and good logistics via Nairobi airport.

One big advantage of SMEs is their size: They are flexible and prepared to develop new and exclusive products with their European trading partners and also fulfil special requirements connected with packaging, products and delivery times. “The owner-operated firms are excellent partners for direct trading and can ideally supplement the delivery network,” says Dr Andreas Gemählich, IPD Sourcing + Markets Expert for the cut flowers sector. “

“The buyers were a bit doubtful at first – regarding the quality and local working conditions. They weren’t expecting the professionalism displayed by the SMEs and their expectations were vastly exceeded. During the farm visits it was clear that the partners spoke a common language, that they appreciated the personal exchange and quickly started an intense dialogue about potential common projects. In our experience, this personal connection is an important criterion to establish trust and sustainable business relationships.”
Pictures in orden of publication:
– Participants of IPD trade mission to Kenya
– Kikwetu Flowers
– Gilbert Towett Managing Director Florencia Blooms.
– Winnie Muasya CEO Fina Floral
– Mount Kenya Alstroemeria.
In the next edition of Flormarket Global, several of the visited flower farms are described by IPD, including the comments of the importer who participated in this mission about quality and assortment.