The spectacular beauty of roses has brightened the world for thousands of years as they are undeniably the most outstanding flowers in the planet. A famous and anonymous old quote goes that “one may live without bread, not without roses.”
In ensuring that the world does not run out of roses; Black Petals Ltd, which is located in Kiambu County, has specialized in growing standardized roses majorly targeting the international markets. The farm has grown tremendously over the years due to their professionalism, knowledge of the market and efficient farming practices in their growing areas.
Nirzar Jundre, who is the General Manager, is the man steering Black Petals to its current heights. Having graduated with a BSc. Agriculture from Mahatma Phule Agricultural University in India, a post graduate in Human Resource Management coupled with 22 years in the floriculture industry, you surely expect nothing less than efficiency. But that is not all as he attributes the success to his passion, something he inherited from a farming background that runs in their family as well as his name Nirzar which means flowing stream.
The Flower Company has training programs for their workers which ensure that their output brings the quality that meets the market’s standards. The concept is that the experienced employees are able to share the skills with the rest to ensure effectiveness in performance.
In Black Petals Ltd, they only grow high-grade cut roses which are normally tall, elegant plants producing the classic long-stem roses. “We grow all T-hybrids roses,” explained Mr. Jundre, “one stem one rose.”
More than 30 manifold varieties of roses are grown here with the Polar Star (white in colour) being the most favorite in terms of customer preference. The farm which is one of the many owned and operated by Black Tulip, is KFC Silver certified and normally do their own propagation in order to replace the non-commercially viable roses which have attained six years lifelong.
The farm having expanded from the initial 6 hectares of the former Four-Ten Investment farm, now occupies an area of 80 acres of land; with 18.5 hectares dedicated to rose farm, 2 hectares dedicated to state of art Packhouse, dispensary, guest house and recreation area. Their fully upgraded propagation unit occupies over 0.6 hectares and produces close to 1 million cut roses annually to cater for the Group’s domestic use.
The company has been practicing healthy agricultural activities. Mr. Jundre explains that they have been using Organic & Biological compounds as well as practicing safe and sustainable farming for more than three years and still counting. “We have not used for instance any form of inorganic chemicals for drenching for over two years now for controlling Nematodes,” he said. Other methods they employ to promote green farming and practices include the use of natural light in their premises to conserve energy, allowing predatory mites to control the pests, use of bio-pesticides that are made from products such as neem plant, and other products that originate from other companies that make biotech products which are friendly to the environment.
With the company’s main niche market being Middle East, Mr. Jundre acknowledges that about 90% of their exported flowers are destined for Arab World where Dubai; the headquarters of Black Tulip is based. The remaining 10% goes to the European markets.
However, the local market is not left with nothing as some of the flowers also end up in the local market, especially in Nairobi where there are numerous flower vendors who source their roses from the firm.
Meanwhile, the flower company does not leave the community empty handed. The local area has actually benefited greatly from the company. The farm currently has employed over 300 people, majority are from the vicinity who are now able to earn a good living as the company is keen on achieving employees harmony.
Besides, the local churches are provided with flowers on a weekly basis for free. In addition to engaging the local people in growing trees as well as providing health facilities to the employees.
The company too is not immune to challenges either, in the recent past they have faced major setbacks in sourcing for workers from the locality. With their close proximity to Nairobi, where construction boom is on the rise, to find male workers particularly from the area is a major task.
Their roses too often affected by diseases such as downy mildew and powdery mildew. Due to weather conditions of the area where the days are warm and dry, and the nights are cool and damp their roses are susceptible more to powdery mildew. They manage the disease by panting resistant cultivators, maintaining proper sanitation, good air circulation, pruning infected roses early enough after first detection, and spraying available fungicide.
Either way, the company is one of the best flower farms in the country and has been growing significantly under the effective management of Mr. Jundre that has transformed its operations and expanded their assets tremendously.