“The rose is a flower of love. The world has acclaimed it for centuries. Pink roses are for love hopeful and expectant. White roses are for love dead or forsaken, but the red roses, ah the red roses are for love triumphant. “– Unknown
The month of February is here with us, and for the lovers among us, 14th February is the prescribed day to express love to each other as we celebrate Valentine’s Day. In many parts of the world, Valentine’s Day is the celebration of romance and romantic love. The celebration is incomplete without the exchange of gifts usually, chocolates, wine and teddy bears. I dare say, Valentine’s celebrations are incomplete without red roses. The demand for red rose is at its peak at various points of sale across the globe during the Valentines season.
Kenya is a key player in bring to reality those valentines’ moments. As a leading world exporter of flowers, Kenya ensures that global Valentine celebrations are well supplied with red roses to fit the occasion. The demand for cut flower exports peak in January to meet the annual demand that comes with the Valentines season in February. Flower sellers across the globe cash in on sales of red roses especially during Valentines period. Clement Tulezi, the Director of the Kenya Flower Council states, that Kenyan flowers are sold in more than sixty countries, mainly in the European Union, Russia and the United States. He links the popularity of Kenyan flowers to the grower’s compliance to high standards, which has positioned Kenya as a producer of top-quality flowers. He adds, “One of the main reasons of the consistent growth of our industry is the quality of our flowers”. Consequently, Kenya is today the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world and the horticultural sector plays a major role as a foreign exchange earner for the Kenyan economy.
The Kenyan rose has endeared itself to the global market due to its colours, varieties, size of the head as well as its availability all year. Kenya experiences favourable weather due to its location adjacent to the equator. The Kenyan climate does not suffer extreme high or low temperatures as is common in the markets Kenya serves. In addition, the Kenyan government and private sector players have invested heavily in logistics infrastructure that enable swift movement of flowers from the farm and onwards to the international markets. Today, the road networks to and from the farms have been well maintained and developed allowing for swift movement a factor that contributes to preserving the flower quality at the prescribed temperatures. To maintain the cool-chain, logistics players use refrigerated trucks and cold rooms that ensure the flower temperatures are maintained from the farm, truck, warehouse and onwards to the market.
Nairobi is an important hub in the region, served by many different airlines, providing access to markets all over the world. In the weeks preceding the Valentine’s season, air cargo terminals in JKIA, work round the clock to meet the increased demand for flower exports. Most of the global cargo carriers also increase the number of freighters calling at JKIA to maximize on the demand for Kenyan flowers. Logistics players must therefore match the global demand for flower exports and match the demand in the peak periods such as Valentine’s Day. Adoption of technology and systems that ensure the flower quality is preserved from the farm, on the truck to the terminal all the way to the cargo flight and onwards to the final customer globally are some of the interventions embraced by logistics players. Consideration is given to matters such as maintaining temperatures from the farm all the way to the aircraft must be strictly adhered to. As such, cargo terminals have heavily invested in temperature-controlled warehouses and introduced cool corridors that maintain the cool temperatures as the flowers await loading onto the aircrafts. Terminals have also adopted technologies that minimize human intervention to maintain the delicateness of the export flower. Mobile phone technology has been linked to various equipment to provide 24/7 alerts to team members should the prescribed temperatures change providing instant response opportunities for the operations teams on the ground. Technology has played a major role in boosting Kenya’s position as a major flower exporter. Different levels of technology are adopted from the flower farm all the way to the destination to ensure the flower quality is received in as good quality as from mother nature.
This Valentine’s as you send or receive that rose bouquet, remember the multiple teams that made it happen, and especially the logistics teams that made that moment memorable by getting the flower to you in the best state and on time.