Do things Differently Naivasha HortFair chair advises

Do things Differently Naivasha HortFair chair advises

The Naivasha Horticultural Fair was started 17 years ago. It has over the years tried to dispel negative media reports concerning flower farms. In addition to being a charitable fair, it also seeks to show the public how professional the growers and breeders are.

“The industry has expanded hugely here in Kenya from probably 1,000 hectares (flower farms) when the Naivasha Horticultural Fair (NHF) started to about 3000 hectares today” says Richard Mc Gonnell, the Chairman of the NHF. “In that short time, Ethiopia has put in over 2000ha and Holland has come down from 2000ha to 250ha” he continues. He attributes the reduction in Europe to high labour costs that run up to 360 pounds per week per person (Kshs. 45,000) which is the (approx) minimum wage there.

Richard also works for WAC b.v as its Sales Manager here in Kenya and Eastern Africa. He says that marketing is becoming a big challenge for growers and especially an over reliance on agents who have been doing things the same way for decades yet the times have changed. He urges growers to market for themselves abroad more. “The agents will always drop you, there is no loyalty at all” he says “There should also be more communication between the local flower farms to approach marketing as a group” Richard continues. That’s the core objective of the NHF, is for suppliers to meet their customers. It’s largely a public relations exercise for the exhibitors.

He is applying some of the advice to do things differently to the NHF because he has also moved away from traditional newspaper adverts to putting up billboards along the Nakuru highway as well as putting resources in social media marketing. He is also working hard to ensure that the quality of the people visiting stays high. They don’t want it to be everyone, it’s targeted at CEOs and marketing managers; decision makers in firms. Last year’s fair attracted over 3,500 attendees. “It’s not a small scale farmers fair though it’s a very friendly atmosphere, no suits and ties; but business in a relaxation mood, where we have bars, restaurants, amongst others” says Richard.

The layout is twofold, an outer line of stands in rectangular shape and an inner line of stands separated by a road in between. The middle will host a food court and a bouncy castle.

Cocogrow is one of the new exhibitors that they are excited about. It’s a young company with a young CEO from the coast that manufacturers cocos media and will be having a launch during the fair.

The flower industry and its market is also changing. “The market wants big head roses, that’s where the money is, and for those you have to go to the higher altitudes.” He says. The high altitude even changes the colour of the roses. WAC has set up a small area for trials on Timaflor, Timau which is 2400 metres above sea level, they are in process of introducing new roses one of the very promising variety being called Bali. It’s a big head rose and Richard reckons it will be a huge success for growers who want to take it up. They will be having an open day in November 2019 to showcase their new varieties including Catch which is one of their best rose in the market.

The NHF is giving birth to a new Fair in 2020 that Richard calls the Naivasha Agricultural Trade Fair (NAT Fair). This fair will be geared towards educating/information and increasing output per hectare for small holder agricultural farmers. “Majority of farmers in Kenya do not meet the kgs per ha that they should” he says. There is need for farmers to be more educated. “KARLO should be doing more on the ground.” Says Richard. Government should also reduce or remove tax on airline fuel to reduce freight costs, advises Richard. Electricity is also another cost, it costs 3 times more than in Ethiopia and twice as much as it does in Uganda.

The dates for next year’s fairs are;

  • Naivasha Agricultural Fair (NaT Fair) 19th-20th March, 2020
  • Naivasha Horticultural Fair 18th-19th September, 2020


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