article by Shabistan Khan
In highlighting series of successful red rose varieties, Shabistan Khan has interviewed Gordon and Stuart Millar, founders of Rift Valley Roses.
The farm is a family business and established by the two brothers in 2011. The farm is located on the slopes of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya at an altitude of 2,250 meters, overlooking the shores of Lake Naivasha. The Farm has grown in four phases, expanding the initial 10 hectares to 16, then to 24, and now, starting from this calendar year, production acreage reached 30 hectares.
‘’Our major challenge has been that of water conservation. Much of our resources have been spent developing a water storage network to continually capture and store rainwater so that we are self-sufficient and responsible in our water usage throughout the year’’, Gordon Millar tells.
“The farm is committed to the Kaizan principal of ‘constant assessment’ and allows employees to share in the company’s issues, knowing that their opinions and ideas matter and are considered within the mission and vision of the farm. Our core corporate values are loyalty, commitment, teamwork, human development, and Environmental sustainability”, added Stuart Millar. The farm is one of the biggest growers of Ever Red rose in Kenya.
What factors make Ever Red a success in the market?
Stuart Millar: Ever Red is indeed a very special flower. Its length, its head size and most importantly its colour and shape are unique. With its deep red velvet interior it opens graciously, with a good shelf life, and is the most beautiful rose which conveys a variety of unspoken messages from the giver to the recipient.
What’s gravitated you to plant Ever Red? Have you expected the success it got?
Gordon Millar: We were looking for a red rose with a big head size and long vase life that is suitable to grow at our farm. We are lucky that this flower excels under our specific growing conditions. From this, we ascertained that we can get the ideal head size coupled with good length.
How old is your collaboration with the breeder of this variety, De Ruiter? What kind of help and support did De Ruiter provide to growers?
Gordon Millar: I have known De Ruiter for the past 15 years. It’s a very important rose breeder, which protects its varieties, since over subscription only serves to cheapen novelty products. De Ruiter has constantly come up with new varieties and proved to have some excellent Red Varieties in particular. Their rose genetics are excellent.
What are your Company’s vision and plans?
Stuart Millar: Our vision is to be a reliable, innovative grower of quality roses driven by a highly motivated and environmentally conscious team.
Gordon Millar: We always look out for new and interesting varieties which can perfectly be grown under our climatic conditions and fit in the market trends. Our partner Fresco Flowers in Holland checks our trial varieties on various parameters such as vase life, the optimal cutting stage and to what extent they fit market trends. We plan to add some new varieties from our trials to our portfolio in the near future. Also, this year we have a plan to consolidate our farm to improve our efficiency.
Whom would you like to give a bunch of Ever Red on Valentines?
Stuart Millar: Her Majesty the Queen, environmental activist Greta Thunberg and also Tina Turner, because she is Simply the Best.
Gordon Millar: I think every lady deserves Ever Red on Valentine's Day.