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All roads lead to Kenya for the International Flower Trade Exhibition

Nairobi: The world’s flower fraternity will for the first time meet in Nairobi  for the International Flower Exhibition (IFTEX) , that will bring togther producers and buyers under one roof. According to the organizer, Dick Raamsdonk , the president of HPP of Netherlands,, the show will herald what promises to be the world’s largest showcase of flowers in the coming years. It will be held every two years. The first edition of IFTEX in Kenya is slated for March 21-23 in Nairobi.

“Kenya is the world’s largest supplier of cut flowers therefore the country should be home to an equally big exhibition”, Mr Raamsdonk said last week.

He explained that for the first time in the history of the country’s flower industry, buyers from overseas will come face to face with the flowers in the country where they are produced. “Many of the buyers get the flowers after they have arrived in Europe, but we deemed it necessary they visit the source”, he said.

The organizers are giving flower growers free exhibition space at the Oshwal Centre, Westlands/Parklands and by this week, more than 125 companies had confirmed participation. Flower growers, suppliers of inputs and services, supermarkets, auctions among others are expected to attend the show, already rated fifth among the world’s leading flower exhibitions before it makes its debut.

Mr Raamsdonk says the massive interest in the inaugural show attests to Kenya’s supremacy in the global flower market place that is unmatched.

Kenya Flower Council chief executive officer, Jane Ngige, said she was excited about the development. “We have participated in many world class flower exhibitions in Europe, Asia, the US and South America, and it will be a great honour for us to hold a fair of this magnitude, that  can only be equivalent of such shows staged in Netherlands, Amsterdam, New York and Equador. Apart from Equador, which together with Kenya are main producers, the other countries are mainly buyers,” she said.

Mr Raamsdonk says that although the shows in these countries are more advanced since they have been staged for years,  Kenya’s will eventually become bigger than all of them because the country is the epicenter of the global flower production. “Kenya supplies 55 per cent of the flowers sold at the Netherland’s auctions, and 40 per cent of the produce in the EU placing it in a unique market position’, said Mr Raamsdonk.

The development comes at a time when there is more focus to produce flowers in Africa due to escalating production costs in Europe and America due to high labour, land and energy costs in those countries. According to Mrs Ngige, South America has seen its production plummet, leaving Eastern Africa as the major source of flowers, and this trend is expected to continue. Kenya, she added has assumed the role of training the continent on the fundamentals of flower production given its advanced technology and supply chain development, and the show will solidify this position.

The flower industry in Kenya is a key foreign exchange earner, whose earnings last year stood at Ksh 44 billion up from Ksh 36 billion in 2010. The positive growth is largely attributed to a favorable exchange rate and increasing demand. The sector employs an estimated 500,000 people directly and indirectly.


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