ethopiaEthiopia is known for its colourful and fragrant flowers, which it exports to the world. Its horticulture sector is the world’s fifth-largest. But it’s facing a major crisis due to the escalating violence in the northern Amhara region. The conflict, which pits federal troops against local militias, has disrupted the operations of many flower farms, threatening their productivity and profitability. Ethiopia’s flower industry generated over $650 million in revenue in 2022, according to the country’s horticulture association. The bulk of its exports are fresh-cut roses, which are in high demand for occasions like Christmas, and Valentine’s Day in Western countries. Last year, Ethiopia exported millions of kilograms of flowers to the European market during Valentine’s Day alone. The peak season for flower exports runs from December to June. But this year, it may be severely affected by the conflict in the Amhara region, which is home to many flower plantations.

Violence has engulfed the Amhara region since August, when local militants launched a rebellion against the federal government, accusing it of marginalizing and oppressing the Amhara people. The federal troops have responded with a fierce crackdown, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of displacements. The conflict has also disrupted the supply chains, transport networks, and security of the flower farms, forcing many of them to halt or reduce their activities. The Amhara regional government said it had lost up to $45 million, mostly from flower exports, alongside massive layoffs, since the start of the conflict.

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summer flowersKenya’s flower industry has long been known for its significant contribution to the global floral export market, primarily centered around the cultivation of roses and other flowers that thrive in the country’s mild and favorable climate. However, there’s currently a noticeable shift occurring within the industry as Kenya embraces the cultivation of summer flowers, marking a promising expansion in its floral portfolio. Thanks to its abundant sunshine and conducive climate, Kenya is now venturing into year-round summer flower cultivation.

The remarkable growth of Kenya’s flower industry can be attributed to a combination of factors, including the country’s climate, fertile soils, and the dedication and expertise of its flower growers. Historically, the industry’s focus has revolved around flowers such as roses, carnations, and lilies, with roses taking a dominant position. Nonetheless, the landscape is evolving as an increasing number of small-scale growers recognize the beauty, quality, and profitability of summer flowers, which can complement traditional rose bouquets. Unlike Northern Europe, where summer flowers are typically grown during the summer months, Kenya’s climate allows them to thrive throughout the year.

The impetus behind the cultivation of summer flowers in Kenya is palpable, with growers increasingly drawn to these captivating blooms.

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fresh produce 1At IFPA’s Global Produce and Floral Show 2023 in Anaheim California, the fresh produce industry gathered to network, learn, inspire and to discuss the state of the fresh produce industry. Globally, the industry faces many challenges at present as weather extremes, geopolitical tensions and the ever-decreasing and more expensive workforce is affecting players along the fresh produce supply chain. Luckily, with the numerous technological innovations and exciting new products being developed, the future remains full of opportunities for the fresh produce industry.

Navigating between greater uncertainty and higher quality
Weather extremes are the talk of the town

The many weather extremes affecting supplies and prices around the world, were one of the main topics of discussion at the IFPA2023 (International Fresh Produce Association’s Global Produce and Floral Show 2023). Some of the many fruits impacted by recent weather disruptions are blueberries, table grapes, and stone fruit. While visitors of the show were offered a range of the finest berries, blueberries were absent in many US supermarkets during the month of October. After years of growth, Peru’s shipments have declined significantly in the marketing year 2023/24 due to a warm winter that negatively impacted yields. While this is one of the many outcomes of El Niño, in the longer run, the industry expects continuing growth in blueberry exports.

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IPM ESSEN HortExThe International Plant Fair is breaking new ground. IPM ESSEN will exclusively take over the marketing of the Vietnamese horticultural trade fair HortEx in the DACH region and other nations. The world’s leading trade fair for horticulture is thus expanding its international network to include another future market. Due to increasing urbanization, the demand for flowers and plants in Southeast Asia is also growing.

The Dutch company Nova Exhibitions B.V. and its Vietnamese partner Minh Vi Exhibition & Advertisement Co., Ltd. are the organizers of HortEx Vietnam. The next edition will take place from 13 to 15 March 2024 at the SECC Saigon Exhibition & Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City. IPM ESSEN will exclusively manage the acquisition of exhibitors from the DACH region and other nations with high relevance in the global horticultural market, such as Italy and Ecuador. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding states that the parties are aiming for a long-term partnership beyond 2026.

“We are very pleased that we have succeeded in taking a further step towards the internationalization of the world’s leading trade fair for horticulture. With this cooperation, we are demonstrating our presence in a rapidly growing market and enabling companies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland in particular to establish new contacts and business relationships,” said Oliver P. Kuhrt, CEO of Messe Essen, at the signing of the cooperation agreement.

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Erik RunkleBy Erik Runkle

Transpiration is the process of water movement from the roots to the shoots of plants. Just like photosynthesis and respiration, it is a requisite function for plant growth. As boring as transpiration may sound, understanding the process can provide fundamental insights into successful crop production.

Water and Nutrient Uptake
Water is absorbed as a liquid by roots, moves through the stems and leaves, and is lost as a vapor through very tiny openings on leaves called stomata. This transpiration process is passive, meaning it doesn’t require energy. Instead, the driving force for water movement is from the difference in water potential between the root zone and the atmosphere. The evaporation of water from leaves has the greatest impact on the rate of water uptake and movement through the plant. Minerals are dissolved in water and together, they move from the roots to the shoots. Therefore, nutrient uptake relies upon water uptake, which relies upon a healthy root system and a driving force for evaporation. When water uptake is slowed, such as from insufficient water in the substrate, a poor root system, or high humidity (low vapor-pressure deficit, or VPD), nutrient uptake is simultaneously decreased.

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zurrie 2024The Winchester farm in Kenya’s Nakuru County is the source of some of the most vibrant shades of roses from East Africa, ranging from scarlet red and vivid white to bright yellow bouquets.

The flowers can now reach the Chinese market in just 17 hours, compared with three days in the past, thanks to express air delivery and simplified customs inspections. Kenya, which is Africa’s largest exporter of flowers to China, exports a total of about 210,000 metric tons of flowers each year, according to the latest figures released by Kenyan authorities. It is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of cut flowers.

The Winchester farm, run by Mzurrie Flowers, one of the more than 300 flower companies in Kenya, exported cut flowers worth millions of dollars last year. Most exports have traditionally been to Western Europe. However, the entry of the Chinese market, which is growing by around 8 percent annually, has been a shot in the arm for the industry, according to the Kenyan Agricultural Ministry.

Gerald Kipkosgei, a technical specialist at the Winchester farm, said that various techniques are used to attain the high standards necessary for the flowers to be acceptable in markets such as China.

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florasysTrials show that Florasys products extends the shelf life of roses by 50-100%, says Chanel Daniel-Swartland, Technical Affairs Manager at Tessara, a company that is one of the industry leaders in Sulphur dioxide generating products used for the preservation of fruits and vegetables. The Florasys products, which are recyclable and free of harmful chemicals, are now commercially available in East Africa and will soon be available in South America as well.

Florasys Box Strip and Wrap Florasys was first introduced to the market in 2020 as the Florasys Export Box Strip, used to preserve roses during export. In Jan 2023, Tessara (Pty) Ltd. released a second product under the Florasys brand called the Florasys Wrap. So, how does it work? Florasys products were scientifically formulated by a team of researchers for the preservation of cut roses. Its unique formulation releases sulfur dioxide gas under optimal conditions during transport and storage. Florasys Export Box Strip is placed in the corners of the box once the flowers are packed, and Florasys Wrap is an insert that is placed inside the SFK before bunching. Both products will release SO2 gas under conditions of high humidity. The SO2 acts on the surface of the roses to sterilize and prevent unwanted contamination and infection. This will ensure the best possible results. On top of that, the products are easy to use and safe to handle. And Florasys products do not contain any synthetic fungicides but can offer similar benefits.“

Extending the shelf life of roses by 50 – 100%
Over 50 trials have been done in East Africa (Kenya) alone, and additional trials in South Africa and Ecuador are being conducted, explains Daniel-Swartland. “The trials show that Florasys products are between 50 – 100% effective on different rose varieties to extend the shelf-life of the roses. Detailed stats and an approved variety list are available on request from Tessara representatives.”

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cooling chain 01The cut flower industry in Kenya is a thriving sector, with the country being one of the leading exporters of fresh flowers worldwide. The journey of these delicate blooms from Kenyan farms to international markets is a complex and delicate process, where maintaining the cold chain is of paramount importance. This entails the use of temperature-controlled vehicles to ensure that flowers are transported at optimal conditions.

The Importance of Temperature- Controlled Vehicles
Cut flowers are highly perishable, and their quality and shelf life are greatly affected by temperature fluctuations. To preserve their freshness and prevent wilting, it is essential to transport them in temperaturecontrolled vehicles, often referred to as refrigerated trucks or reefer trucks. These vehicles maintain a consistent and controlled environment, ensuring that the flowers remain at the ideal temperature and humidity levels throughout the transportation process.

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Hamish KerHamish Ker has been appointed as Andermatt Kenya’s Chief Executive Officer, effective 1st December 2023. “We have an opportunity to help our customers meet the demands of biological solutions and we are excited to welcome Hamish to the team!” the Andermatt team says.

“We want to thank Stephen Musyoka, who has been instrumental in establishing Andermatt Kenya as a going concern since inception these past four years – as an early adopter and pioneer of biological farming solutions in Kenya.”

“Stephen has assisted in positioning Andermatt business for future growth/ development in 2024 and beyond. We are grateful for Stephen’s contributions to Andermatt and the impact we created together over the last four years. Stephen will take up a new role within the company as General Manager, Macrobial business. With the development of the Andermatt footprint in Kenya and the continued investment in our macrobial production capacity we are confident of the growing role Andermatt must play in the rapidly growing demand for Healthy Food and Healthy Environment for all!”

Andermatt’s Journey in Africa
Healthy Food and Healthy Environment for all, speaks directly to Africa and her people.

Andermatt’s vision in Africa is focused on feeding the continent sustainably, as well as strengthening local economies through the export of high-quality, residue-free, healthy food.

South African based Andermatt Madumbi and Andermatt PHP, are recognised as well established, market leaders in the distribution and manufacture of quality biological solutions.

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mangoThe first half of 2023 witnessed a series of pivotal moments that set the course for the future of Africa’s fresh produce export sector. From innovative freight solutions to lifting existing bans, the industry experienced significant events that had a lasting impact on its growth and performance in the years ahead.

New regulations imposed on Mango exporters in Kenya
From November 2023, mango exporters in Kenya were subject to stringent physical inspections of their mangoes before shipment, with the location of their packhouse being subject to inspections facilitated by The Agriculture and Food Authority Horticultural Crops Directive.

The measures came into place due to issues concerning mangoes being mixed with avocados during sea freight, which breached horticulture crop regulations. This action also came in response to the AFA’s ban on October 31 to cease the delivery of avocados, which were being exported prematurely. AFA implemented a directive to physically inspect mango exports consignments after concerns that some exporters had been blending mangoes with avocados for sea shipments.

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