By MURIMI GITARI
With Kenya being the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world, the flower industry in the country is set to achieve another milestone by having the first ever flower festival on October 26th this year at Diana Hay Gardens in Lord Erroll Restaurant in Runda.
The festival idea, identified by a communications company – Bold Rose Communications, will be offering an opportunity to celebrate Kenyan flower enthusiasts and inculcate a culture of using fresh cut and garden flowers in our homes, offices, and all spaces of life. This will not only ensure a ready market, but will also instil a Kenyan culture of using flowers, and exchanging them with people to cheer them up, show empathy, love, happiness and gratitude in our day-to-day lives.
Rosemary Kimunya, the founder of the festival, says the event will be a one of its kind with the theme being ‘Bloom in Bravery’. It will be happening during the month of breast cancer awareness and will include breast cancer screening during that day as a way of celebrating the cancer month.
Rose, who grew up in Limuru where flowers are grown in large scale, explains that she has spent lots of time doing research on flowers and is interested in seeing people use their creativity to make art from flowers rather than dwelling so much on science and exports which she says has been the case for a long time in the country.
“Kenyans need to develop the culture of giving flowers to each other instead of getting all what is grown here taken to other countries,” Rose says. She adds that it is unfortunate to see that there are few Kenyans who know much about flowers and she dreams of seeing them growing and having flowers in their homesteads.
There are very few Kenyans who can afford to buy even a bouquet of flowers as many flower farms have concentrated so much on the export market and they only sell what they get as ‘rejects’ (those that do not meet export standards) to the local market. According to Ms. Kimunya, during events like weddings, parties and even in offices, artificial flowers are used for décor. Ms. Kimunya and her team aim to see Kenyans embracing and affording the flowers grown by providing a market for the same.
A report by the Kenya Flower Council shows that Kenya is the largest exporter of roses to the European Union (EU) with a market share of about 38%. Approximately 50% of exporter flowers are sold at Dutch auctions, although direct sales are growing worldwide. The flower industry contributes around 1.06% to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Our target is not based on the economic aspect; it is about inculcating a culture of putting artistic work in flowers during events and in places where flowers are used for décor,” she adds. “We want to see Kenyans growing their own flowers, and have a culture of giving and receiving flowers by doing away with the perception that it is wastage to buy a flower,” the founder of the festival, who is also an event planner and public relations professional, says.
The festival will have a show that will radiate with professionalism and feature top of the class floral designs, exhibitions and set-ups showcasing creative and diverse Kenyan floral arts.
The Kenya Flower Festival (KeFFlo) also wishes to appreciate flower enthusiast on this particular day by creating an online contest on bra designing and decorating using flowers under the campaign dubbed ‘Glam your floral bra’. Entries will be recorded by way of registering on the website with a rule of using only flowers and environmentally-friendly materials to create a bra.
“The intention is to ensure that we support the Breast Cancer Awareness month campaign using flowers and creativity, hence Kenya Flower Festival – Bloom in Bravery Edition,” the founder explains.
The event will provide a networking and marketing opportunity for flower enthusiasts and like-minded organizations. Education will also be offered on various flowers grown in Kenya and how to take care of them at home in order to give them a long vase life.
“There are flower farmers targeting local, however the reception at the local level has not fully developed. It is for this reason we are having the festival that will connect the flower farms with the market we are intending to create. As is the case, flower shows that are held in the country connect flower growers with the export market,” Ms. Kimunya says.
The event will have a couple of activities including education pieces by the various flower experts, children’s activities, training on growing of different flowers as well as selling them.
The glamorous floral event will have exhibitors and will feature variety of presentations from leading flower farms, floral event planners, the floral bra contestants, artists, gardeners, landscapers, florists and wedding planners. There will be displays providing an ideal environment for informally training parties interested in the floral items.
It will be an all-day event culminating into a gala dinner later in the evening. Presentation of awards will be done for the different categories. Some of the proposed categories include: the flower farm of the year, floral designer of the year, Kenya wedding florist of the year, home gardener of the year, flower vendor of the year among other awards. Judges will be from the Kenya Floral Arrangement Group and other flower industry experts.
Story page 8-9 on Aug- Sep issue.