When the demand of high quality premium roses shot up, Roseto Group Directors decided to start a farm at high altitude; 2250m in 2011 and called it Sierra Flora. Roseto is their first farm located at rongai at an altitude of 1950m and the third farm is Florenza located at solai, at an altitude of 1700m.
Sierra Flora sits on a 26 hectares piece of land and is among the few flower farms in the country that have invested in a trial site. Before they grow any variety acquired from breeders, it has to go through performance test for 1-2 years to test its productivity, good stem lengths and head size. At the moment there are over 200 varieties of roses from different breeders worldwide which are being tested.
“The flower industry is like a fashion industry, market and buyers preference keep on changing from time to time. We have to cope up with the market demands and needs from time to time to enable us to be in business, said Sharieff Kaleemulla, the General Manager
Currently, the company is cultivating more than 15 varieties of premium quality roses, head size 5+ and above and stem lengths of between 50/60/70/80 centimeters which makes the flowers most preferred in the auction market. They have new varieties such as Jolie, Mandala, Venus, Lemonetti dancing cloud and light pink sakazi.
To ensure the high quality premium roses are without damages, they have invested in a cable system which they have installed along their greenhouses. The cable which is more than 3 kilometers long ensures quick means of transport and avoid damages of flower heads, ensuring that flowers reach the pack house intake area in the shortest time possible.
“Clean and good supply of water is very important in flower production; we harvest all rain water from the rooftops of greenhouses and have several boreholes to supplement the same when the rains are not pounding.Quality flowers, needs clean water for faster growth,” he pointed out
They strictly adhere to procedures related to production as well as post harvest. They have a centralized post harvest system. All the flowers are harvested with proper care and are sized according to length in the greenhouse, wrapped with harvesting nets and transported in clean baskets with clean post harvest solution. Each harvesting net contains 20-30 flowers depending upon sensitivity to damages. The procedure helps them in reducing head damages and broken stems.
“We have a centralized spray system and a fully automated fertigation system. This makes certain that all the required chemicals and nutrients are mixed at their respective places and pumped/sprayed to the greenhouses at the required ratio. We have also incorporated mulching in our farming for all our newly planted area and it helps to suppress weeds, maintain moisture and also control fungal diseases like downy mildew and thrips infestation.
Achieving high quality roses demands good growing practices such as good and timely cultural practices, hygiene monitoring day to day fertigation requirements, timely control of pest and disease and finally harvesting right cut stages of flowers without damages as per the market requirements.
The farm values education, they believe it starts and ends with reading quality books. They purchase books and other learning stationeries and keep on donating them to schools located near the farm.