International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander is urging UK consumers to buy Kenyan flowers today. Given the unrest in the country, flower producers have had to work extra hard to ensure flowers reached the market in time for Valentine’s Day.

Kenya is a leading exporter of cut flowers, roses in particular, and the UK is one of the world’s largest importers. Douglas Alexander goes on to say that the “flowers flown in from Kenya aren’t grown in heated greenhouses so they use less energy than most of those produced in Europe”. You can read more about a comparison of emissions from floriculture industries in a 2007 report by Adrian Williams (Cranfield University) entitled a Comparative Study of Cut Roses for the British Market Produced in Kenya and the Netherlands.

More on the floriculture industry in Kenya from CAB Abstracts

Kenyan cut flower export blooming.
Roozendaal, G. van
Biotechnology and Development Monitor, 1994, No. 20, pp. 6-7, 6 ref.

The cut flower industry in Kenya is discussed. During the last decade, Kenya has become a successful cut flower exporter and a strong competitor on the European market. Labour is cheap and the climate favourable (although sometimes unpredictable). The area under production is approx equal to 700 ha. The most important flower crops are carnations, statice [Limonium], alstroemerias and roses. Among the pressures the industry faces are consumer pressures for environmentally-friendly production, lack of investment, high prices of inputs such as fertilizers, postharvest quality preservation during transport and inadequate air freight capacity.

Kenya – poised for growth, even in a tight world market.
Haines, B.
FloraCulture International, 1996, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 16-19

Modern air transportation, a favourable climate and low-cost labour have made Kenya a major force in world floriculture. The flower industry comprises around 100 flower growers representing over 1200 ha of total production with approximately 350 ha of covered greenhouse production. Initial production consisted mainly of spray carnations and limonium. However, recent industry expansion is geared toward higher value crops such as roses, alstroemeria, carthamus, and solidago. Grower profiles are presented for a selection of companies. Nairobi is the inbound tourist centre and outbound shipping centre for flowers grown in Kenya: most flower producing areas are within a few hours drive from Nairobi. Kenya’s constant flow of tourist traffic creates air cargo transport to Europe on commercial air traffic routes.

Developing country exports and environmental standards: the Kenya floriculture environmental project.
Konijn, R. J., Kuyvenhoven, A.
Tijdschrift voor Sociaalwetenschappelijk Onderzoek van de Landbouw, 2002, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 216-227, 20 ref.

This paper presents a case to illustrate the sensitivity of developing country’s exports to environmental trade measures in developed countries, viz. the possible impact of eco-labelling in flowers by the Netherlands on the future export position of Kenya. To put this problem in a more general perspective, some issues that play a role in the current trade and environment debate are discussed. Next, an overview of Kenya’s floriculture is presented in order to provide a better understanding of the importance of the sector and the specific growing circumstances. The Dutch eco-label for flowers called the Floriculture Environment Project (abbreviated MPS in Dutch) is then explained and elaborated. The experiences of several Kenyan growers who qualified for the MPS-label are also discussed. The paper ends with some conclusions and observations on the process of introducing MPS on flower farms in Kenya.

More on Fair Trade roses 


  1. Kenya Holidays on 5th July 2008 at 5:26 pm

    I first visited Kenya 12 months ago and of course fell in love with the country and the people and read about the recomendation to buy Kenyan flowers and I am sure many people did just that. I wonder, 3 months or so later if people are still going out of their way to still buy Kenyan grown flowers. It would be interesting to see if that’s the case.

  2. Kenya Holidays and Safaris on 16th October 2009 at 8:40 am

    As with the enviroment and threat to Wild Life the Kenyan goverment need to ensure that Kenya is protected and assistance given to floriculture industry. It would be a great shame to lose any of these great natural assets

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