A flowering plant that was traditionally vilified due to its vegetative growing nature is now becoming a goldmine for farmers as markets express appetite for it due to its unique blending traits.
The flower plant known as Eryngium, has big heart shaped blue leaves and produces purple flowers. It has been known to grow wildly because it doesn’t respect climate. Rain or shine, it still flourishes. Scenes of people working hard to clear it from their farms or home backyards are commonplace.
But markets have opened up to the humble flower, both locally and internationally, with local florists spending up to Sh14 to buy a shoot of the flower. International flower markets are also increasingly demanding the flower arguing that it blends well with any other flower.
Already vanguard farmers in Kiambu County are already growing the flower and have found lucrative markets for it in the export markets.
“I am among the growers and the exporters of the flower. Contrary to traditional opinion that you needed heavy investment in growing the flower, most of the farmers have spent little or no money in growing Eryngium. The demand is really high and they are struggling to meet it. The beauty with it is that it flourishes whether there is rainfall or not. The caveat however is that one must take really good care of it to get the desired results,” said Alex Njenga a farmer in Lari area of Kiambu County and an extension officer. So important is the flower that the Kenya Flower Council says it is one of the flowers it is currently supporting and promoting due to its growing demand. The council is calling on farmers to form themselves into groups to receive training about the flower. “The beauty with this flower is that unlike the other cut flowers, a farmer can get more seeds for replanting from the plant or get the flower’s rhizome and replant,” said Alex.
A seedling upon maturity produces a cluster which in turn produces 20 stalks each year. One stalk is what costs up to Sh14 especially in up town areas locally. An acre of the flower can produce 10,000 clusters. As florists grow innovative each day to meet the changing preferences of customers, whether in weddings, funerals, churches or for home use, they are finding Eryngium convenient for them because it can easily blend, a fact which explains its rising popularity.