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Crop Protection and the Kenyan Flower Industry

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The long term growth of the floriculture industry in Kenya has been impressive with exports rising by 2.6 fold over the last 10 years. Of these, roses are the most important flower consisting of nearly three quarters of all flowers exported from Kenya and this has been an underlying trend for many years. Even with the political turbulence following the elections in 2008, output was reported by the Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) to have increased in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007. Numerous studies have analysed the Kenyan situation to find out why the Kenyan industry is so successful and to learn from this in order that this might be replicated elsewhere in developing countries. The reasons for the success of floriculture in Kenya are many and include a favourable climate with numerous variations to suit every type of flower, a hard working and educated work force, an economic climate that encourages internal and external investment, an industry that is willing to obtain knowledge and technical know-how from external consultants, the ability to innovate rapidly and adopt new technology, and the market awareness and information to develop new products and add value. In addition, lower costs of production on the equator creates an environment that offers Kenya comparative advantage. The prime example of product development has been the expansion of flower bouquets, whose components are both grown in Kenya and prepared and shipped as ready to sell bouquets. Kenya has also been able to take advantage of the expanding world market for flowers, initially in places like the UK, but more recently in Eastern Europe and Russia. This market in turn has been accessible with ease only through the Dutch flower auction and distribution system. Therefore, the Kenyan floriculture story has happened as a result of numerous interacting factors. The impact of the recent global recession is, however, being felt in Kenya and the industry is likely to contract in 2009. The other horticultural sectors have achieved steady growth and shown innovation in product development. The vegetable export sector is characterised by a large range of vegetables and in recent years has seen the growth of the mixed vegetable pre-pack, which is the largest single export category. That is labelled, priced and ready to go onto the retailer shelf in Europe. The fresh fruit exports have the smallest export volume compared to cut flowers and vegetables and they are dominated by avocado exports, which are virtually all exported by sea freight.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 August 2009

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