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Kenya: “A hundred thousand tonnes of roses”

Kenya: “A hundred thousand tonnes of roses”

Kathie Neal considers her time spent in Kenya, during the week of Valentine's day, when she and chief reporter Victor found out about the lengths Kenyan flower growers go to, to provide roses to foreign markets.

"I adore fresh flowers, both having them and giving them, and rarely get out of the checkout at the food store without at least one bunch.  Generally I don't look at the origin, just the price, so it was quite a revelation for me to see where many of those lovely flowers come from - more than 4,000 miles away in Kenya.

As it happened, we were in Kenya in the week of Valentines Day and were visiting the famous rose growers in the Lake Naivasha area to film for SOS Children’s new project, Our Africa.  One in three roses sold on Valentine's Day will be from Kenya and most will have been grown on the shores of this lake, one of the most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world - that's 3 million stems of roses just for Valentines Day!

Kenya flowers blog imageIt was the end of the day but we managed to blag our way into one of the many miles of greenhouses surrounding us.   We gingerly stepped into the sea of flowers and Victor, the chief reporter, spoke to the rather exhausted looking manager about his work.  They grow 26 varieties of roses, both short and long stem roses, and this week will be nearly twice as busy as normal.   The flowers are cut, packaged and delivered to both the Dutch flower auction market and major European supermarkets within just 36 hours!

Giving more than 50,000 Kenyans a living, the rose growers will export more than 100,000 tones of roses to Europe for this year alone.  That should keep me in flowers for awhile."

Learn more about Our Africa

Our Africa brings you the children's vision of their continent. By handing out camcorders and asking youngsters to film their communities, we were able to capture a vision of what it's really like to grow up on the world's most complex continent. Find out more.