By MURIMI GITARI
With just one year shy of its Silver Jubilee, Magana Flowers is looking into a Brighter Future, Mr Ambanya said with admirable conviction, exuding the confidence of a flower farm manager who is keen to focus on the envisaged better days.
Over the past year, encouraged by a positive turn of fortunes, Mr Ambanya has led a dream team on a rebranding journey, timed to usher in its next Jubilee, building on a resilient past and repositioning itself in the International flower markets. “We step into a brighter future based on renewed commitment to three key segments of our business;- commitment to our customers, our stakeholders and our staff.
To our customers, the farm will endevour to guarantee you true eperience of unforgetable joy. Our rebranding comes with a promise of renewed customer excellence backed by our best quality and new varieties. There will be an enhanced ecosystem between the farm and customers with good flow of communication and overall enhanced customer experience. This will be in realization of customer satisfaction in terms of rebranding for a brighter future of the business.
We are promising to enhance cooperation with you – our suppliers, breeders, the community and regulatory agencies like the Kenya Flower Council, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and Horticulture Crops Directorate. This is the climax of celebrating our turning round the business which means stepping into stability. It will implement our a strategic plan of strengthening the target markets while at the same time developing and producing the quality demanded by the various market segments. There will be a deliberate effort driven by a skilled and talented team that is now in place whose mandate is to excellently manage the whole value chain.
Magana Flowers has shaped the growth and development of Magana Town, which lies off Waiyaki Way as a result of a rising demand in ancillary services like housing, schools and hospitals. We work closely with the surrounding community and we will continue living in harmony and supporting them with needs like water.
We aim at enhancing the working environment where staff feel happy and proud to work at Magana Flowers.
They will also undergo regular training to improve skills and undertake other programmes to make their stay at the farm enjoyable. These include programmes like enhanced health targeting women at work to make them feel at home.
From the outside world, the flower industry looks all rosy. Unknown to may, flower farms have been faced with a number of serious challenges as they try to grow here and meet the ever rising demands of the markets.
“We are all familiar with the fertilizer shortages we grappled with most of last year whose effects the farms are still smarting from. For us, the cost of fertilizer went up by 39 percent and we would urge the government, as flower farms, to stabilize availability of the vital commodity.
This cost, unfortunately is absorbed by growers as it cannot be passed to our buyers due to the risk of pushing our produce to uncompetitive prices leading to loss of markets.
Weoperate in a business that thrives on reliability and a little deviation due to challenges here at home can easily jeopardize client loyalty”, said Mr Ambanya.
As we did this interview, the drought experienced in the country was still biting. A drought year is always a bad one for flower farms especially those operating outside Lake Naivasha. Magana had water estimated to last for another two months and Mr Ambanya exasperated he didn’t know what they would do if it didn’t rain.
The weathermen dampened hopes when they announced it wasn’t going to rain until November but the prediction was overturned by nature and it has been raining most of May giving a sigh of relief to farms like Magama that have large storage dams which require just two weeks of a good downpour to collect sufficient water to survive a dry season.
Mr Ambanya reiterated his call for Kenyans to take environmental conservation more seriously. Plant many, many trees, collect as much water as possible when it rains, and conserve water catchment areas. Magana is well forested and the canopy of trees that cover the driveway is testimony to a farm that walks the talk. So are its large dams that are visible as one tours the farm. More than 25 percent of its farm is under trees, way above the national target of 10 percent.
The forest cover provides micro-climate. Magana is in the process of expanding its water storage capacity with the construction of a fifth dam that, added to the existing four, will give the farm a six- month cover in times of water scarcity.
Customers arealways looking forunique products thatwill give them anedge in the marketand Magana istargeting having new varieties at a premium price.
This is our unique differentiation – growing specialized verities for niche markets.
Which is that one variety that’s unique to Managa?
We have a number but A 1 a white flower with appeal for many occasions comes to mind. We have developed a specialized protocol of growing the variety due to its demanding growing environment.
The protocol helps in prevention of botrytis a major fungal and destructive disease of ornamental crops that affects over 200 plant species worldwide causing annual losses of 10 billion to 100 billion dollars.
A 1 variety is resilient and has a longer vase life. Having perfected a tradition of growing the variety we aim at selling more stems due to the high demand.
Nicholas Ambanya,Chief Executive Officer,Magana Flowers Kenya Ltd
Victoria Kung’u,Sales Account Manager,Magana Flowers Kenya Ltd,