Time for a global flower auction in Kenya.

Author:Kamani, Bobby

The booming Kenyan floriculture sector, which exports to over 60 countries worldwide and provides a comfortable living to over two million Kenyans, has gained a global reputation for excellence. But Is still relies on selling at the Dutch auctions. Bobby Kamani argues that the time is ripe for the industry to follow the tea and coffee sectors and establish its own global auction.

Kenya's economy relies largely on the floriculture sector. It is estimated that in Kenya, the livelihood of more than 500,000 people, including over 100,000 flower farm employees, depends on the floriculture industry, thus impacting over two million livelihoods.

While Kenya only commenced exporting cut flowers in the early 1980s, today it is a major exporter to the European Union (EU). About 38% of all cut flower imports into the EU come from Kenya, with the main EU markets being Holland, UK, Germany, France, and Switzerland. In 2017, the floriculture industry earned KES82.25bn ($0.82 billion) whilst exporting a consolidated amount of almost 160,000 tons of cut flowers. Kenyan flowers are sold in more than 60 countries. The current Kenya Flower Council membership is responsible for close to 80% of the national volume of flowers exported.

The industry continues to attract investors due to a solid infrastructure, favourable climate, global positioning of Kenya as a commercial hub and a very productive workforce. It comprises large, medium and small-scale producers who have attained, and managed to maintain, high management standards and have invested heavily in value addition.

The industry's success has been through the adoption of modern technology in production, precision farming and marketing. On the global front, a growth of 5% is anticipated every year for the next five years and to achieve this, Kenya is going to have to continue investing in order to accomplish such an unparalleled expansion in the growth rate.

Presently, approximately 50% of all exported flowers are sold through the Dutch Auctions, although direct sales are growing. In the UK, supermarkets are the main outlets. Over 25% of exported flowers are delivered directly to these multiples, providing an opportunity for value addition at source through sleeving, labelling and bouquet production.

Enviable market confidence

It is a prime area of concern that whilst the industry has grown exponentially, the industry is still relying on selling cut flowers in Aalsmeer, Netherlands at the Dutch Flower...

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