Flower farmers in Kenya are set to benefit from a new insecticide that promises to kill three stubborn flower pests – aphids, mealy bugs and white flies.
The three pests, common in flowers have been cited by horticulture industry stakeholders as a potential cause of losses to both flower farmers and the economy, if found in consignments normally imported to the EU countries.
The new insecticide, dubbed Closer 240SC was introduced into the market by Dow AgroSciences during a conference that saw regulators in the flower sector convene in Naivasha to a discussion around the challenges currently facing the flower sector.
During the conference, the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) identified the need for regulators and development partners to support small scale flower growers to enhance their capability to export.
KFC’s Chief Executive Officer, Jane Ngige termed this support as “expected to creditably demonstrate commitment for responsible production of flowers in Kenya”.
The convention also highlighted the need for research and development, use of technology and innovation in value adding products, as avenues through which Kenya can enhance the Horticulture sector’s productivity and sustainability.
The forum also cited poor pest control mechanics, the accumulation and delay in paying VAT refunds, fluctuation of foreign currencies and the high cost of doing business in Kenya as more key challenges in the sector. The climate change, with the rains being experienced more frequently recently, has also led to low production.
Closer 240SC has already been introduced in markets abroad and locally piloted, with farmers terming it as a ‘promising’ product due to its affordability and efficacy.
Ms. Jane Ngige noted that the Horticulture Industry in Kenya is still struggling with pest pressures.
“The launch of Closer240SC is indeed timely for the industry as growers continue to struggle with pest pressures. It is gratifying to note that the new quality product is dealing with some of the difficult and stubborn pests to manage and keep our production managers awake all night,” Noted Ngige. She also noted that the product can be integrated in IPM programs which is imperative in meeting the stringent market requirements on safety, environment protection and sustainability, amongst others.
After a period of rapid growth between the year 2000 and 2010, flower exports rose from 40,000 to 120,000 tonnes, equivalent to an annualized growth of almost 12 per cent. Over the last years, exports have fallen back to a growth of less than 2 per cent, according to KFC.
“It is only in 2014 that we began to see momentum returning. Official statistics indicate that the flower industry earned the country Ksh 54.6 billion in 2014 with export volumes totalling 136,601 metric tonnes. Provisional statistics from Horticultural Crop Directorate indicate that 121,346 metric tonnes of flowers worth Ksh 62.9 billion were exported in 2015,” Said Ngige.
The flower industry employs about 90,000 people directly and supports the livelihoods of over two million households.
The Closer 240SC has a quick knock down effect on targeted pests and continues to protect the flower for a further one to two weeks. Within four hours of spraying, it is regarded as safe to non- target organisms. It leaves no persistent residues in the soil and does not bio-accumulate.