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IFTEX 2016

IFTEX 2016

International Flower Trade Expo-2016

[N]airobi to hosts yet again the International Flower Trade Expo 5th edition, 2016

With the decision to hold the flower expo yet again in the Kenyan soil, it is indisputable that we are a renowned country at the international level for producing quality cut flowers. Having been selected for the third time, consecutively. It is in no doubt that we are the best in Africa. This years’ event, taking place from June 8-11 to be held at the state-of-the-art Visa Oshwal Center, is anticipated to grow even bigger by bringing together a huge number of flower lovers.

[M]ost importantly, the event has become a meeting point for all stakeholders convened under one roof. Flower farmers gets the opportunity to interact one-on-one with their potential buyers. On the other hand, the buyer’s gets to understand the process of flower production and the effort put in for them to appreciate what they get as a final product when purchasing. Other key stakeholders in this industry are the brokers, suppliers, flower propagators and exporters from all parts of the world.

Having attended last year’s trade expo, we cannot get over the excitement that the 5th Edition is happening at our doorstep again. To tell you the truth 2015 lived to its expectation and since 2016 is here with us, and about 57 days to go, we expect the event to be ever fascinating.

[F]rom our experience, being in a room where flowers are arranged by designs, the freshness, fragrance and the nostalgic scents they produced was just breathtaking. One could read the aspiration and life in the auditorium thanks to the flower effect.


Ms. Margaret Kenyatta, the chief guest during IFTEX 2015 gives her speech during the opening ceremony.

On the event, the unprecedented cooperation and insightful interaction among the flower growers and non-growers would not go unnoticed. Graced with such an opportunity, the participants, especially flower growers had the opportunity to meet key players in the movement and distribution of grown flowers to the market helping the business to expand and grow for better returns to contribute to the economy growth.

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[I]t makes all the difference to get the finest details conversing with the flower growers. Crazier enough is that we learnt even the tit bits that separate different firms from the others. Augmenting the soil with a different mineral made a conspicuous difference and made the magic making the flower color more vibrant. More fascinating is that a slight change of temperature could bump up production. There is nothing more fulfilling and satisfying as knowing how a product you use is produced, that I discovered after attending the event.

HPP Exhibitions- a U.S.A based organization, is the major organizer of the international froriculture trade expo. For a third time, they have chosen Kenya for a third time to hold the event. It is an important fresh cut flower event renowned worldwide. To increase the country’s visibility of flower produce in the US market HPP Exhibitions is planning a visitors promotion to invite a delegation to attend this years’ expo as remarked by Dick van Raamsdonk during the Los Angeles’ World Floral Expo 2016. Additionally, any American registered flower companies have an opportunity to register with the organizer for free to showcase their floral products on the IFTEX event. The invitation is complemented with a package of free accommodation for 4-5 days in a 5-star hotel, specifically Jacaranda Hotel, Nairobi with free pick up to and fro the hotel to the expo’s venue. To top it all, the guests will have a chance to visit two major flower growing zones. This is meant to lure more and more companies to participate in this glorious occasion.


Beautiful Flower showcase by the Flora Holland During This Year Iftex.

[N]ot forgetting that IFTEX is celebrating its 5th birthday since its inception. Concurrently, Kenya Flower Council (KFC) 20th anniversary still happening in a week of the event and the also theUnion Fleurs’ annual meeting. Coinciding with these major occasions, more participants are expected to grace the event. The expo has taken five good years to be where it is now, being placed as the third largest flower event internationally, it is enough revelation that great work has been going on and the much potential to make it even bigger in future connecting all African flower growers bringing them together to share insights and probably form a strong flower movement.

With a record number of over 200 displaying flower related companies this year, International Flower Trade Expo  2016 will be more striking than ever before. Demonstration space has doubled over since the first edition back in 2012 and continues to increase this year with 20% compared to last year. This can be attributed to the increase of participants of local growers. Currently, the number of companies registered at this moment stands 173 which is expected to reach 200.


Flower Vendors Association of Kenya a body incorporating florists in Nairobi Kenya, receives an award of best creative stand during the opening of IFTEX 2015. Onlooking is the first lady of Kenya, Ms. Margaret Kenyatta.

Kenya is the lead exporter of rose cut flowers to the European Union (EU) with a market share of about 38%. Roughly 65% of exported flowers are sold through the Dutch Auctions, even though direct sales are on the rise. In the United Kingdom, supermarkets are the leading retail outlets. Other developing destinations include Japan, Russia and USA. Over 25% of shipped florae are supplied directly to these multiples, offering an opportunity for value addition at source through labeling and bouquet production.

The main production areas are around Athi River, Eastern Kenya, Lake Naivasha, Mt. Kenya, Kericho Kiambu, Kitale, Nairobi, Thika, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Trans Nzoia, and Uasin Gichu.

All along the roses of red, white and yellow have remained to be the best-selling, though the fashion for vintage clothing has filtered in the flower market, with done in tones of pale pink, oatmeal and even soft brown gaining popularity. Meanwhile, bouquet trends are shifting to a more subtle mix of shades.

Apart from the famous Kenya Roses other cut flowers dominating the market includes mixed bouquets, Arabicum, Asiatic Hybrid lilies, Birds of Ireland, Birds of paradise, Carthamus, Delphinium, Eryngium, Gypsophila, Lisianthius, Helichonia, Molybdick, Ornithogalum, Veronica, Oriental lilies, Ferns, Tuberose, and Zantedeschia. Also number of Ornamentals are propagated in Kenya and exported as cuttings abroad for pot production.

The International Flower Trade Expo 5th Edition will be held with much projections and positivity that the trade expo will become a global leader in the international flower events, if the zest and interest shown by the buyers in the past events is anything to go by. Judged with internationalization already being witnessed, it is anticipated for the expo to be a regional trade fair where flower growers and enthusiasts converge and not only for Kenya, but for growers in the whole of Africa producing flowers. 2016 is the year set to meet the international participation goal and easily to become the second or third largest trade show in the world as predicted by Van Raamsdonk. Since the show is purposely meant for buyers to meet their growers, visitors to come from major consuming nations, i.e. Africa, Europe, and South East.


First Lady of Kenya receives flowers named “lady margaret” presented to her Van Kleef Roses and Breeders.

Kenya’s currently is the powerhouse in the flower industry in Africa, thanks to its sunny climate which enables the production of high-quality blossoms to be grown all-year round. Another significant contributing factor is the excellent transport links to Europe connecting to the rest of the world. It ensures swift delivery of the naturally perishable commodity to reach the market while still fresh and conveniently.

The flower industry remains to be a major contributor in the country’s economy.

According to the Kenya Flower Council, the industry employs 500,000 people who depend directly on the trade. Half of the country’s 127 flower farm located in Naivasha due to rich history and skilled labor available and it close proximity to the capital city, Nairobi. Among the many employees in the industry, 90,000 work in flower farms. In 2013 alone Kenya exported 125,000 tons of flowers valued at $507 million. Recounting that agricultural sector contributes 25.3% of the country’s GDP, flower industry accounts for 1.3%.

Environmental activists have expressed much concerns due to the threat to L. Naivasha fresh water ecosystem poised by the contamination from the flower farms. As much it is a sincere concern, the trade remains booming. To ensure sustainability in the agricultural practice and reap the economic benefits, the WWF have come in and is working with the local farmers to sustainably utilize and manage the vital water resource ensuring water levels are not affected. Though it is still a major challenge with such initiatives environmental degradation can be reduced. However, the government of Kenya ought to put clear legislations and guidelines through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Ministry of Agriculture providing incentives to farmers to practice sustainable farming.

To spark the culture among the African countries with the hope unravel the continents agricultural potential especially for commercial purpose, in this case floriculture, which is not so much developed and again take the added advantage of favorable climate, local flower growers are lending their expertise to fellow countries. Kenya has partnered with the Rwandanese government to create a 35 hectare flower farm, 60km from the capital Kigali. The project can be termed as a milestone for Kenya to show how skillful they are at producing flowers. Hopefully, the farm is projected to produce about 3 million stems per year and create a sparkle in upsetting the floriculture sector valued to be more than $ 200 million into Rwanda’s economy by 2017.

Less than 5 weeks ago a similar event, the World Floral Exposition 2016 happened in Los Angeles, California. The WFE was officially opened by Calflowers VP, Mike Mooney of Dramm & Echter. The events’ sponsor was Mayesh. California prides to hold the event for another time bearing in mind that they led the way in producing 75-80 percent of fresh cut flowers consumed in the U.S domestic market. The attendees had an opportunity to view and experience the touch of flowers of more than 660 varieties that were on display. Calflowers, the leading trade association in U.S, was notable in the event as it had increased its display space three times more than was on 2015. The association members were thrilled to exhibit their products among other world-class flower growers drawn from around the globe. Eminent for being enduring, Kenya’s roses, carnations and summer flowers globally, growers showcased their blooms at the World Floral Expo in Los Angeles.

Flower farmers from both California and South America as well as the rest of the world displays the élite of their crop. It was indeed cool to walk the fête floor and see nothing but stunning blossoms. It was also a great chance to come across some of the gardeners we work with. You see the names on the boxes and on the sheaths of bunches but to meet somebody face to face and have the chance to have a tête-à-tête and hear about their product was very fascinating.


Maasai traditional dancers entertain the First Lady of Kenya, during the opening ceremony of the 2015 International Floriculture trade expo

Events like WFE 2015 aid to grow U.S. consumption patterns over info and knowledge sharing and through meeting and work together with entities and firms to nurture a robust and competitive floral industry in the U.S. The same is the intent and projection to make IFTEX much bigger to market Kenya flowers and send a clear message that we are working to become, if not the best, the most recognized in the flower business.

Before I down my writing tool-oh! Stop typing, we cannot forget to address the plight of workers working in the flower farms. Despite of the industry providing job opportunities for many Kenyans and help building the economy, working standards in the farms needs to be uplifted to maintain human dignity and a worthy cause. We’ve heard many complaints from different entities of the poor conditions in various farms. As such, this can be achieved by proper implementation of the OSH Act, 2007 which is facilitated in the constitution.

We hope that as this years’ IFTEX comes to pass, as we celebrate its 5th birthday and enjoy the fragrance, happiness and life brought about by flowers, as flower growers showcase their products, as buyers get insights and looking for the best flower of the day to bring with them home for their partners and spouses let us not forget the workers behind the scenes who make it happen. Again, with hopefulness that as the trade fair develops in a global event, the plight of the workers will be addressed to make the flower industry imitate the beautiful nature of the blossoms.