Lake Naivasha has been a conversation topic for as long as people have been growing flowers in Kenya. Naivasha is a Masai word, which means as much as ‘the lake that comes and goes’. There isn’t a river flowing out of the lake, but there are three flowing into it, so the water level is heavily influenced by rainfall in the wider area, especially in the Aberdare mountains.
During periods of little or no rainfall, the water level of the lake drops, and when this happens, it’s always the flower farms that are blamed for it. They’re accused of pumping all the water out of the lake. Even though everyone knows, it’s actually a matter of rainfall and evaporation.
But this year, everything’s different. The rainy season, which normally starts in April, was late last year; it didn’t start raining until June. Since then, it hasn’t really stopped raining. In fact, even now, it still rains almost every day. As a result, the water level of the lake is higher than ever. According to the statistics, the water level hasn’t been this high since the 1930s. So, finally, nobody’s accusing the flower farms of pumping all the water out of the lake anymore. Great!
It’s a pity though, for nurseries that were using the land on the shores of the lake when the water level was low. They’ll have to look for places higher up now. Here in Timau, it’s also been wet for a long time; I’ve spotted many streams I’d never ever seen before. All our ponds are overflowing, and we had to get the sandbags out at home as well. All this humidity has its impact in the greenhouse too: the disease level is high. But here’s the solution! There’s a shortage of airfreight, so it doesn’t hurt as much when growers cut fewer flowers.
I haven’t even mentioned the coronavirus yet. In March, all our warehouses were empty. By April, the demand had started up again because of Easter, so we were hopeful for Mother’s Day. I have no idea which countries are open and where our flowers could be shipped to, but I do know that the demand was higher than all of Kenya could meet. With the lack of airfreight and the excessive rainfall combined… A Mother’s Day like never before!
All we’re hoping for now is some sunshine and that the coronavirus doesn’t reach us.
Simon van der Burg,
Rosegrower, Timaflor, Timau, Kenya
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