Flowering contentions

Saturday 15 July 1995

A Kenyan bid to enter the global flower market withers some of the North's near-monopoly profiteering

-- A recent slogan which appeared in a leading newspaper in the Netherlands went like this: Buy flowers from Kenya. In a land known for its hegemony in cut flowers, the statement raised quite a few eyebrows.

Made by Inzet, a local ngo, the slogan has made known a trend which has gone unnoticed for several years: roses and carnations are no longer Dutch preserves. Kenya, Colombia and many other countries are steadily making inroads into the international flower market.

This according to Inzet is encouraging. It not only means generating employment in the South but also provide for environmental justice. In Kenya, it is the sun which naturally heats the greenhouses, unlike the vast quantity of fuel used in Holland.

All this is not cutting much ice with the Dutch flower growers. Disputing the energy use figures in Kenya as claimed by Inzet, they also point out that given the tropical background in Kenya, pesticides usage will be more as the crops there are prone to bugs.

While the battle heats up, the market couldn't care any less. It is interested in supply, demand and profits. The trade press reports that international oversupply has pushed the price of carnations down, and those of roses are expected to follow suit any moment. There is the added worry that India might blossom into a major contender in the world rose market.

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