The Kenya flower industry is one of the biggest foreign exchange earner, and the industry has an international market share of 38%. Locally, people are embracing consumption of roses in weddings and other important functions.

So, isn’t time to cash in on this business and join those making money?

We all agree that there are various challenges in this business – and so is in any other farming business.

But there are various ways in which you can make money in the flower industry: You can become a florist, grow and sell roses or operate along the value chain.

We shall now show you how you can generate huge income from rose flower arrangements as well as growing and selling this high-value crop to eliminate SPOF (single point of failure) and live an abundant life.

Remember that about 60% of our flowers are roses. While the small-scale farmers grow other types of flowers that do not require capital intensive investments and the kind of technology corporate firms need, it is these small-scale farmers who are key in supplying the local market, which is a good avenue in branding Kenya as a flower growing country.

And that is why statistics show that the industry employs 90,000 people directly and about 500,000 indirectly according to Kenya Flower Council. It also rakes in more than Sh45.6 billion every year.

But remember that flower farming is a capital intensive business and there are labour issues that should also be taken into account before you start.

Starting a rose flower business as a florist

It’s possible to easily start a flower shop where you can sell well-arranged rose bouquets. Most florists sell anywhere between Kshs.700 to 3,000 or much more per bouquet depending on the size and style.

In this kind of business, all you need is some flower arrangement skills, relatively low capital, local business permit, and a few other requirements such as creating a network of clients.

These clients are the same people to market your business depending on the value you offer through referrals. Flower arrangement courses are offered at affordable costs that range from 3,000 to 10,000 and takes just about 14 to 30 days.

However, training will only serve to prove that you are a professional but what counts is your inborn eye for beauty and a people skills. Depending on your commitment to succeed, you can make a gross monthly income of Kshs. 100,000 comfortably. If your monthly expenses come to Kshs. 40,000 you remain with 60,000 clean money. What more could you ask for? Maybe more roses to keep you going. But this is not the only rose flower business in Kenya. You can become a flower consolidator or agent.

Growing and selling rose flowers

The first requirement into successful rose flower growing is land availability. The land should further have the necessary characteristics such as productive soil, proper drainage, and proximity to a reliable water source. Failure to have these, it would be practically expensive for you to establish your business. The size of the land will depend on your goals and objectives. If you have not inherited or bought your own land the third option would be to lease for a specified period of time.

Once you have the land, you can move to the next requirement. In growing roses, remember to take care of the following:  LEAVES, LIGHT, WATER, FERTIGATION, ROOTS.

GROWING MEDIA’s

SOIL

Advantages Disadvantages
no extra invest needs sterilisation
less sensitive Slow correction
no recycling of water,  
irrigation by sprayers or drip lines  
   

 

Rock or Stonewool and hydroponics

Rockwool in gutters has been introduced in Kenya and includes a rockwool product, Grodan, that is used in the production of rose, tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet pepper in many parts of the world. Extracted from basalt rock, stone wool is preferred because it requires less use of water and chemicals and contains no traces of heavy metals.

A rock wool block used to grow flowers

If used to raise roses, the substrate is said to ensure higher quality and better prices per stem. Green Farming experts say growers using stone wool can raise 312 stems from a metre of land which is over and above the 250 stems per metre that can be harvested from ordinary soil. They say farmers using stonewool can therefore generate profits of up to 46.80 Euros per square metre as compared to 37.50 Euros generated from stems grown in ordinary soil. Further, stonewool allows for better control of oxygen, pH and temperature. It is prefered because as a sterile material, farmers using it do not need to disinfect the ground. This saves on both chemicals and labour.

Several farming companies such as Aldric Spindler’s Red Land Roses (RLR) in Ruiru now use various substrates to grow roses in his 50-acre farm. He has also used the hydroponics technology which is the growing of crops without soil. It makes use of water with soluble nutrients necessary for the plant and inert (empty of elements) media (substrate) like sand, rock pebbles, coconut peat, pumice, rock wool, macadamia husks and coffee husks.

“We use inert substrates, and then bring in the minerals used to grow the plants. This way we can control nutrients taken in by plants, whereas in soil one is hardly able to know if they are putting too much of anything,” Spindler told the press. He also used murram from the farm and pumice from Naivasha as inert media. The substrate is sieved and grated before use. The medium contains no nutrients.

“We wanted to control the growth of plants. The second reason, water is a scarce resource and in hydroponics, one is able to recycle it. We get back the drainage from plants (water and dissolved nutrients).

“So, we make big savings on fertiliser and water because nothing leaks into the soil,” he says. The drained water is recollected, sterilised and reused. Spindler saves 40 to 60 per cent of the water. This means less than 50 per cent of fresh water is returned to the recycled water.

“Another important thing is the protection of the environment because nothing leaks to the soil. We have no nitrate or phosphate getting into the soil,” Spindler says.

In Ethiopia, Jittu Horticulture PLC, has been experimenting with stonewool on some 2,500 square metre field with advice from Dutch experts. Jittu is reputed to be one of the largest vegetable growers in Ethiopia producing 46 different types of products mainly for export to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The company applies stonewool not only to ensure efficient use of fertilisers and water but also to avoid the nagging problem of nematodes without resulting to disinfecting the ground with either streams or pesticides. Jittu is so upbeat about the substrate that it is said to have planned to cease using soil as a growing media altogether.

 

Advantages Disadvantages
No sterilisation Sensitive
Tables needed Control of drippers
Quick correction Quick show of lacs
Recycling of water Only for stentling and cuttings
   
   

 

Dutch Plantin Coco

Since rose growers in Kenya have been growing ‘out of the soil’, Dutch Plantin has introduced Coco that is very suitable for growing roses because it’s a pure coconut substrate. At the moment, several growers in and around Naivasha mix local pumice stone with coco peat from Dutch Plantin. The result is a good and sustainable substrate on which they can successfully grow for many years. Also young rose plants grow very evenly and root quickly on our coco peat. Because of big savings on water and fertilizer the growing on substrate has a big future in Kenya. A grower says: “We once bought some other coco because it was a bit cheaper, but we noticed the difference in quality immediately.” Another major grower explains: “Cutting down costs on substrate is always at the expense of yield.”

 

Media Preparation

Soil

– Proper soil loosening,

–  Additional peat/cocos/straw/cow manure to get good basic preparation Ph 6 -6,5 and Ec < 0,7

–  Soil has to be sterilised for 8 hours up to 100 C until 60- 80 cm deep.

  • Rockwool

–  Care for proper drainage of the gutter.

–  Care for proper “spaghetti” of 3 mm diameter.

–  Rockwool to be over-watered before planting.

  • Coco fibre

–  Care for proper drainage of the gutter.

–  Care for proper “spaghetti” of 3 mm diameter to mini sprayer

–  Coco fibre to be watered before planting

  • Perlite

–  Care for proper drainage of the gutter.

–  Care for proper “spaghetti” of 3 mm diameter to mini sprayer

–  Perlite to be watered before planting

 

Rose flower business in Kenya

Greenhouse cultivation of roses ensures that your business is not affected by weather changes or ecology. You will definitely consider greenhouse cultivation of your roses to optimize their yields. If you wish to start small, you may consider using low improvised tunnels that will still serve the same purpose as the greenhouse but are much cheaper.

 

SOME BASIC RULES ON IRRIGATION:

  • If drip lines / sprinkler systems etc. are longer than 20 m, it is recommendable that they are connected from two sides.
  • Small plants consume less water,
  • Big plants get usually 30 – 40% over drain, to be sure all plants get enough water + fertilizer
  • With big plants, start irrigation at 06.00 to 16.00 hour, approx 100 ml each dose
  • During night time, no irrigation.
  • Every week proper distribution of water of each valve has to be controlled by putting a cup under one of the drippers and measure the content after one irrigation.
  • Filters to be controlled each 2 weeks on sand and algy

Infrastructure

Roses just like any other horticultural produce are highly perishable. This means that you need to give them special care if you want to maintain their marketable quality. To achieve this, you need to ensure that you have a cold chain in place.

You can either invest in one yourself or hire. Whichever way, cold storage is a must have. But that’s not all, you also need to analyze the accessibility of your business. Check the nature of the roads around your ideal location.

 

Roses are not only highly perishable but also very sensitive. That means that they need to get to the market as soon as practicable. If your ideal location for the rose flower business has a network of tarmacked roads, you’re blessed!

The other important aspect in terms of infrastructure is connectivity of electricity. Thankfully, Kenya has made great strides in ensuring that electricity is available even in the remotest areas.

What you need to legally start a rose flower business in Kenya

The requirements listed are compulsory especially if you wish to export your roses in addition to selling locally.

  • A certificate of business incorporation from the registrar of companies
  • Kenya Revenue Authority Personal Identification Number (KRA PIN).
  • A Tax Compliance Certificate.
  • Export License.
  • Phytosanitary Certificate from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services.
  • Clearance from National Environmental Management Authority, NEMA and WRMA.
  • Local authority business permit.

Don’t be put off by the amount of paperwork required upfront. It’s very easy to obtain these licenses. Just remember that it’s your right as an investor or entrepreneur to be facilitated to obtain the necessary documentation. You don’t have to bribe anybody because let’s face it, no one is doing you a favour. Once you have the necessary documentation, you can congratulate yourself for work well done. Actually, you have achieved a lot. Most people stop at dreaming and their ideas die before they are born.

Markets

If you have to succeed in the flower business, you have to always strive to fulfil the market demand and over-deliver on promises.

There are a wide range of market segments for roses starting from local and international. But the bottom-line, customers will buy by impulse or on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day.

What is important is to develop a quality assurance program to guide your products delivery. Before anything else, survey around to see what the market wants. Once you have a clear picture of the market requirements, it’s time to choose your rose varieties.

Finances

Flower business is an expensive investment but one that have a greater ROI. You can consult your bank to fund your start-up, that is if you don’t enough money to invest yourself. Once, you’re establish consider, employing competent people on your team to help you out.

 

Conclusion

 

Don’t procrastinate anymore. Before you close this page, get a pen and paper write out what you need to start and have a plan of action. Remember that a bad plan is better than no plan at all.

Five years from now, rose flower business in Kenya is going to be a gold mine and not only for the usual ‘big boys with big bucks’ but for any innovative entrepreneur. Kenya has really improved its ease of doing business and it’s your time to shine.

 

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