Flower sector players moot strategies to spur growth

Like a drunken man, who cannot identify the path that could lead him home, local flower farmers are caught in a tangle, growing flowers that are not market-driven. This has resulted in low morale among their number, huge losses and uncertainty.
Cut roses on display at the International Flower Trade Expo in Nairobi, Kenya last year. Net photo
Cut roses on display at the International Flower Trade Expo in Nairobi, Kenya last year. Net photo

Like a drunken man, who cannot identify the path that could lead him home, local flower farmers are caught in a tangle, growing flowers that are not market-driven. This has resulted in low morale among their number, huge losses and uncertainty.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to efforts by the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), where farmers and buyers were brought together to share notes and forge away forward.

“We want to work together as industry stakeholders to see how we can provide for the needs of the sector and help each other expand our businesses,” Ndambe Nzaramba, the NAEB deputy director general, explained the thinking behind the drive while speaking at the event that brought together flower farmers and buyers at NAEB headquarters last week.

The meeting was in line with government’s efforts geared at encouraging floriculture in the country under the Rwanda National Innovation and Competitiveness programme.

Nzaramba also urged buyers to collaborate with the farmers so that they identify flowers needed by the market.

“If you know of a flower variety that is much-sought after, tell farmers so that they grow it. This way, you will save the money you use to import flowers and the farmers will earn more money too, resulting in the sector’s growth,” Nzaramba noted.

“Why should Rwanda import cut roses from Uganda and Kenya when we have fertile soils, conducive climate and expertise? This, besides draining our economy of foreign exchange, it kills the local flower industry.”

Rwanda imports cut roses worth $500,000 (about Rwf330m) annually, thanks to a flower sector that is not market-oriented. The country has been focusing on production of ornamental flowers.

Uwera Robinah, the NAEB director in charge of marketing, noted that whereas farmers were complaining of lack of market, buyers were complaining about the narrow range of flowers on the local market.

“The approach was aimed at helping buyers and farmers know each so that they can work together and identify the flower varieties the market wants,” she said.

“After they have identified the varieties, NAEB will provide the farmers with planting materials; train them on crop husbandry and flower handling to ensure quality.” 

She was hopeful the situation would improve now that the farmers were aware of the needs of the market.

Uwera identified the other major problems dogging local flower industry as low production and unorganised supply chains. The farmers and the buyers also complained of lack of refrigerated rooms to help preserve the flowers.

There is only one way out for the local flower sector: growing more flowers (varieties and volumes) to satisfy the local market and compete with the regional producers, said Venny Kamanda of Payless Services, an events management firm, in Remera, Kigali.

“We need to work with the farmers so that they can plant quality flowers and in various colours,” Berna Mbabazi, a local florist, stressed.

Rwanda flower farmers grow mainly orchids, delphiniums, roses, azerias, digitalis, jasmines and hydrangeas.

Mahagarara Emmanuel, the director of Imbabazi Orphanage, which has been growing flowers since 1959, said floriculture was an expensive trade, with limited market. “If we had a big market for our flowers, we would produce more because we have enough land.”

Muhizi François, the head of production at NAEB, was optimistic that Rwanda would soon be in the big league in the region.

“Rwanda can be the next success story in floriculture. As one Dutch flower farmer in Kenya was recently quoted: ‘Rwanda is one of the last unexploited corners of Africa with the right conditions for horticulture’.

How will this happen?

“NAEB will support small-scale farmers to produce flowers professionally using the horticultural officers, technocrats and consultants,” said Nzaramba.

The support will also include land preparation, fertilisers and chemicals, extension and grading services, packaging and transit structures and materials and marketing of the flowers on local and the international markets.

There are currently no flower exports from Rwanda, and the country earns about Rwf8.2m every month from ornamental flower sales or about Rwf98.4m a year.

This is, however, going to change, thanks to the many government initiatives aimed at truning around the sector to make Rwanda a top cut roses exporter in the region.

Over 10 flowers buyers, mainly event management firms, including Women Arise Décor, Payless Services and Rwanda Flora, attended the meeting.

business@newtimes.co.rwFlower sector players moot strategies to spur growth

By irene nayebare

Like a drunken man, who cannot identify the path that could lead him home, local flower farmers are caught in a tangle, growing flowers that are not market-driven. This has resulted in low morale among their number, huge losses and uncertainty.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to efforts by the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), where farmers and buyers were brought together to share notes and forge away forward.

“We want to work together as industry stakeholders to see how we can provide for the needs of the sector and help each other expand our businesses,” Ndambe Nzaramba, the NAEB deputy director general, explained the thinking behind the drive while speaking at the event that brought together flower farmers and buyers at NAEB headquarters last week.

The meeting was in line with government’s efforts geared at encouraging floriculture in the country under the Rwanda National Innovation and Competitiveness programme.

Nzaramba also urged buyers to collaborate with the farmers so that they identify flowers needed by the market.

“If you know of a flower variety that is much-sought after, tell farmers so that they grow it. This way, you will save the money you use to import flowers and the farmers will earn more money too, resulting in the sector’s growth,” Nzaramba noted.

“Why should Rwanda import cut roses from Uganda and Kenya when we have fertile soils, conducive climate and expertise? This, besides draining our economy of foreign exchange, it kills the local flower industry.”

Rwanda imports cut roses worth $500,000 (about Rwf330m) annually, thanks to a flower sector that is not market-oriented. The country has been focusing on production of ornamental flowers.

Uwera Robinah, the NAEB director in charge of marketing, noted that whereas farmers were complaining of lack of market, buyers were complaining about the narrow range of flowers on the local market.

“The approach was aimed at helping buyers and farmers know each so that they can work together and identify the flower varieties the market wants,” she said.

“After they have identified the varieties, NAEB will provide the farmers with planting materials; train them on crop husbandry and flower handling to ensure quality.” 

She was hopeful the situation would improve now that the farmers were aware of the needs of the market.

Uwera identified the other major problems dogging local flower industry as low production and unorganised supply chains. The farmers and the buyers also complained of lack of refrigerated rooms to help preserve the flowers.

There is only one way out for the local flower sector: growing more flowers (varieties and volumes) to satisfy the local market and compete with the regional producers, said Venny Kamanda of Payless Services, an events management firm, in Remera, Kigali.

“We need to work with the farmers so that they can plant quality flowers and in various colours,” Berna Mbabazi, a local florist, stressed.

Rwanda flower farmers grow mainly orchids, delphiniums, roses, azerias, digitalis, jasmines and hydrangeas.

Mahagarara Emmanuel, the director of Imbabazi Orphanage, which has been growing flowers since 1959, said floriculture was an expensive trade, with limited market. “If we had a big market for our flowers, we would produce more because we have enough land.”

Muhizi François, the head of production at NAEB, was optimistic that Rwanda would soon be in the big league in the region.

“Rwanda can be the next success story in floriculture. As one Dutch flower farmer in Kenya was recently quoted: ‘Rwanda is one of the last unexploited corners of Africa with the right conditions for horticulture’.

How will this happen?

“NAEB will support small-scale farmers to produce flowers professionally using the horticultural officers, technocrats and consultants,” said Nzaramba.

The support will also include land preparation, fertilisers and chemicals, extension and grading services, packaging and transit structures and materials and marketing of the flowers on local and the international markets.

There are currently no flower exports from Rwanda, and the country earns about Rwf8.2m every month from ornamental flower sales or about Rwf98.4m a year.

This is, however, going to change, thanks to the many government initiatives aimed at truning around the sector to make Rwanda a top cut roses exporter in the region.

Over 10 flowers buyers, mainly event management firms, including Women Arise Décor, Payless Services and Rwanda Flora, attended the meeting.

 

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