Kenyan grower: Philip Kuria

‘The market will soon be flooded with flowers’

How is the business running so far this year?
“I am quite happy with the current production. We transport two big trucks full of roses to the airport in Nairobi every day. We currently cut an average of about 270.000 stems a day. We don’t deliver to the auctions anymore due to fluctuating prices, but sell directly to the supermarkets in Europe, Russia, Japan, United States and Australia now. Two of our big customers are Albert Heijn and Carrefour. Logically the climate causes problems sometimes. In the beginning of the year it was way too hot, therefore we had to throw away a lot of our production. But now the nights are too cold and we are hardly able to handle the demand.”

Which impact does BREXIT has on the company?
“The United Kingdom is a very important market for us in Europe and since Brexit the sales decreased with 20 to 30 percent. So it did have a large impact on our company immediately. The value of the British Pound also decreased, so this means that we loose money upon every rose we sell. As the United Kingdom is not part of the European Union anymore, Kenya needs to negotiate directly with the country about import and export agreements and we are dependent on these outcomes.”

What are you most proud of?
“I am proud of our corporate responsibility projects, the way Nini Flowers deals with the environment and the manner in which we treat our staff. This involvement with people and nature are in our company DNA. We employ 1000 people, but indirectly we have about 5000 dependents. Secondary working conditions contain access to the clinic, education and all kinds of trainings and courses. I do believe that we are making a difference in the life of our workers. I think it is great to give somebody more responsibilities and to see him grow afterwards. In short, for me it is all about meeting the expectations of our customers but certainly also to meet the expectations of the staff. Without them no roses.”

How does the future look like according to you?
“When I look at the sector I expect that the market will soon be flooded with flowers. One of the main reasons is the fact that Ethiopia is producing more and more, but the demand does not increase currently. The price will therefore decrease while the production costs remain the same. I am worried about this, but I deeply believe that we will survive, taking into account our quality, care and constant innovation.”

What do you like to do when you are not working?
“I am a typical farmer, I work every day. My house is located on the terrain and I live there with my wife. Our son is attending boarding school in Nairobi. When I have some spare time, I love to travel. I take the car and drive across the border, to Tanzania or Uganda. I like discovering new places, eating strange food or getting totally lost somewhere.”