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Interview: Eight years and going strong

What is NHF? How did it come about and how was the idea carried to fruition to the level where we are now looking at its 8th edition?
N H F is a trade/business fair that is focused on the horticultural business in East Africa, conceived over a bottle of beer to show the rest of Kenya that the Horti business is a serious business open to everyone, and indeed affordable to most. We are where we are now, because we are open to the smallest exhibitor; our fees are probably one-fifth of other exhibitions

What was the first show like? How has it grown year by year? Has it stuck to its original objective or have certain things changed?
The first show was a huge success -55 stands -which encouraged us to go forward. Clients were very happy and urged us to do it again!! It has grown yearly and this year we expect over 150 trade stands of all types. When you are in business, you need many types of products, ranging from printing paper to lorries, to fertilizers to first aid kits. The original objectives were to be professional, have fun and keep it affordable. We feel we have done all the above: we attract the senior managers, CEOs of all the flower companies. Indeed, we are the place to be to learn about the industry as a newcomer or a seasoned grower learning new products/techniques, or just coming to browse and meet friends.

Why should i care about the show as an exhibitor/visitor? Being an exhibitor in this fair, means you are participating in one of the world’s leading fairs, where busi-ness is the password, meeting cli-ents both existing and potentially new. Some people thought this was just a whim that would die off, they are now the biggest clients !! on the premise that its proceeds go to charity, how many has it supported to date?

Can we have short profiles of each? is there someone who we can profile as a beneficiary? Charities, there are literally hun-dreds, from the Rotary Club of Naivasha Safe House, where it has been claimed it has saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of children lives to sponsoring foot-balls -from “alive and kicking” for An aids awareness tournament. Naivasha Childrens Shelter, Feed the Hungry, NACOHAG, Red Cross, St Marys Hospital, Aga Khan, dozens of schools desks and toilets, lo¬cal market toilets in Ihindu, disaster relief, IDP’s, and dozens more. For more profiles, just contact me !!

How does it identify projects to be supported? There are so many that do not need to be identified but we work closely with other groups, Rotary Club of Naivasha being one and an overseas group, Children of the Third World. Cases like the IDP’s are right in our face, so no need to find them. Also, schools are so under funded there is a continuous supply of letters asking for assistance.

Naivasha is usually in the news mostly for all the wrong reasons? What role does the show play in toning down the negative perception? How do the fair days transform Naivasha? Naivasha being in the News for the wrong reasons!!! Cheap journalism. The farms around the lake generally are very good, socially etc etc, but journalists make up stories about the farms, which are mostly untrue. There was a report in a national paper a few weeks ago that the growers had killed the crocodiles in the lake !!!! Well, excuse me ,who pays this reporter? Made up story: there has never been a crocodile in lake Naivasha. The growers are attacked from all angles over the water.

How much water does KenGen use? How much water is taken from the upper catchment area, by prominent people/sourc¬es, and yet never reported? Who pays their water rates? The growers and who else? How much tax does the government get every year from the flower farms in Kenya, not just Naivasha.

Are the stories about Naivasha farms purely because they are foreign investors? Sheer envy, I say. The Fair, if anyone is interested, is a platform where people can show what they do for the community. Most of these big farms have their own clinics, AIDS awareness programmes, schools, hospitals etc, at no cost to the staff. Where else in Kenya do you get this? Certainly not from the government. Just a few years ago, Oserian Fastac and Sher would have been one of the top football matches in Kenya, but alleged corruption has put an end to this. It is not the fair’s “job” to teach the media about honest reporting. Richard Macgonell, Vice Chairman Naivasha Hortcultural Fair.

Who are the faces behind the success of this show? We have the Chairman Roddy Benjamin, senior manager at Oserian Development Company, and Vice Chair Richard McGonnell, Flower farmer and agrochemical supplier, also a keen Rotarian. The two are ably assisted by Chetna Sangrajka, a local busineess woman and Ruth Vaughan, Senior manager at Nini Roses plus the staff in Richard’s office.

Going forward? For the fair, we will continue in the way we are going and try and keep up / improve standards.

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