Kenya’s flower industry is the oldest and largest in Africa contributing 1.29% of the national GDP. Kenya is the lead exporter of rose cut flowers to the European Union (EU) with a market share of about 38%. In the United Kingdom, supermarkets are the main retail outlets. Other growing destinations include Japan, Russia and USA.
To ensure sustained access to international markets, compliance in the Kenya Flower industry is necessary and it is clear from consistent reports and concerns raised in the public space, that more work on the robustness and thorough implementation of the regulatory systems needs to take root. This also includes the pressures exerted by the markets. All efforts to make compliance more inclusive and to capture all exporters must be harnessed by both the private sector as well as the regulatory arms of Government.
Currently Kenya flower farms subscribe to different local and international standards to ensure that the flowers are responsibly and safely produced with due consideration of workers welfare and protection of the environment. The standards look onto good agricultural practice, sustainability, social accountability, hygiene health and safety, capacity building, environmental protection and conservation.
Some of the certifications embraced in the Kenyan flower sector include, Global GAP, Kenya Flower Council silver and gold standard, Tescos Nurture, Fairtrade, FLP, MPS-SQ, MPS-Social, MPS-ABC and Rainforest amongst others.
Locally, Kenya has a Standard KS 1758 with specific reverence to flowers and ornamentals. It is currently under review under a project National Mechanism of Compliance (NMC) spearheaded by the Kenya Flower council and funded by the Dutch Government. The standard under Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) scope will be expanded to include breeders, propagators, consolidators, shippers and cargo handlers.
NMC is deemed necessary since it will make compliance more inclusive capturing all exporters. Following the review, the standard will be submitted to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) for adoption and shall be subject to the standard development process to become a Kenya Standard. All flower industry value chain players –will be expected to follow laid down procedures to ensure that flowers are produced and handled in a responsible way at every point.