Kenya has a huge and beautiful landscape with an extreme climate, unpredictable drought or floods adversely affect every farm and small holding. But there is one gently sloping plain on the border of Laikipia and Meru counties that has been blessed with the perfect altitude, temperature and daylight to grow greenhouse roses. This area is famous for various vegetable, flower and rose farming, however the site we visited is concentrating on intensive rose growing, producing tens of millions of perfect stems a year. The farm we visited has forty hectares under cultivation in two twenty hectares greenhouse sites where the formula is mirrored. The manager has identified the six most popular and reliably proliferating varieties, red, pink, orange, yellow, white and blush.
This is a modern set up, the management believes in investing in their workers, they take their social responsibility seriously, setting up schools locally and a 24-hour on site medical facility; almost uniquely all promotions up the ranks are internal. With 600 rose employees this makes a significant difference locally and loyally.
The growing process begins with a neologism, in the “fertigation” room where all the nutrients that benefit roses are precisely mixed by the bespoke Israeli equipment; in the neighbouring room all the fungicides and insecticides are prepared, nevertheless bees thrive happily in the greenhouses. In rows as neat as African hair braids the roses are hand tended by the gardeners in orange livery then harvested and sent to the sorting room. In here mostly women sort the stems into three sizes ready to be boxed and sent to auction in Holland. This is an unusual business model as there is only one client and the product has no variables, thus budgeting and forecasting is relatively straightforward.
Noticing an employer successfully providing hundreds of jobs to a contented work force perhaps an enterprise along these lines could be in a partnership with conservation and community efforts, relying lesson the generosity of donors.