Kikwetu Flowers; 5 Years of Producing Timeless Roses with Love

Kikwetu Flowers; 5 Years of Producing Timeless Roses with Love

Kikwetu Flowers came into existence in 2019 and is a family business that is owned and run by 4 family members.

After an illustrious and exceptional career spanning over 30 years in the cut flower industry, Madam Lucy Wambui Yinda the then Managing Director of Baraka Roses saw it fit to start her farm (Kikwetu Flowers)which would specialize in growing and exporting premium T-hybrid roses, special intermediates, and spray roses.

Having understood that roses need altitude to grow tall and produce big heads, a quality that the world yearns for, she traversed Timau, a beautiful high-altitude region in the Mt. Kenya area known world over for producing quality flowers, in search of a location to set up a rose farm venture.

Her initial investments of 5ha and 5 varieties have now bloomed into two enchanting farms with a total area of production of 18 ha with over 24 varieties of roses which are known for their exceptional quality and outstanding vase life. From vibrant reds to captivating whites to soft pinks and bi-colors which form a kaleidoscope of colors that are stunning to the eyes.

Kikwetu has voted almost automatically as the ideal name for the project to depict national pride and culture. It is a Swahili word that means ‘Our Ways’.

We focus more on quality and not on numbers to meet the increasing demand for quality. We also pay attention to the changing tastes as the flower industry is highly dynamic. It is like the fashion industry where tastes and preferences change quite often and we have to stay at the top of the game. Therefore, the decision on what variety to grow is guided by largely the market demand. We want to ensure that we respond to market demand and live up to our philosophy, that quality must supersede everything else,” Lucy Yinda stated.

Kikwetu Flowers came into existence in 2019 and is a family business that is owned and run by 4 family members. At the heart of the farm is Mr. Mathia Yinda who is the Executive Director in charge of the daily operations.

The farm employs 400 people mostly from the local community, and half of them are women. The main farm is located right in the center of a small rural community in “The Kwa Ng’ang’a area near Timau town while the new farm is located in Ex-Lewa near a village called Maritati, both in Meru County. The entire community is involved in the farm in one way or another and a culture of working together with people from far-off communities is slowly developing making Kikwetu a unique blend of Kenyan cultures.

As you are aware there are a few farms that are Kenyan owned and we take pride in being one of them. When we came to Timau, we had to very quickly learn and adapt to the ways of the local community and the diverse customs and expectations and I am happy to say that we have bonded well and work very closely on many matters of the community. “

 “As a family business, we learn from each other and strive for excellence in every part of our business. That has been our strength and that is how we have overcome many hurdles. Our philosophy is to work round the clock to keep our customers happy, being friendly to nature and growing our farm and our family which includes our staff,” said Executive Director Mathia Yinda.

The 5 years journey for the farm has been of learning and experimenting. First, they had to understand the high-altitude climate and efficiently manage the pests and diseases. Secondly, benchmarks had to be set and all relevant people trained to produce the high-quality flowers yearned for in the market.  Currently, they have been able to tap into customers who used to buy from Ecuador but now they are directly sourcing from Kikwetu.

Kikwetu Flowers

What truly sets Kikwetu Flowers apart is their commitment to quality and sustainability. They believe in preserving the natural beauty of Kenya. Their roses are grown using eco-friendly practices, ensuring that they not only look beautiful but also leave a minimal footprint on the planet. This culture is demonstrated by the use of solar energy and the wetlands that clean and recycle wastewater thus providing many “ecosystem services” and biodiversity, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation. The Farm has also established a roses waste compost system to produce organic fertilizer to supplement the farm fertilizer requirements.

One of the most remarkable qualities of their roses is their longevity. Unlike ordinary roses that wither within days, Kikwetu roses are known for their exceptional vase life. This is due to a unique combination of factors, including meticulous care during in the growing methods and post-harvest protocols.

 “Our strategy to focus more on direct markets was informed by the fact that in direct sales you have a direct relationship with the customer whereby prices can be negotiated and the relationship can be nurtured and developed, unlike the auction where one has no control on the prices which vary almost on daily basis.  Kikwetu has a good clientele base in the Middle East, and Europe” said Mathia.

Behind the flourishing roses that have caught the world’s attention, are sustainable practices from farm to market that the company has invested in to ensure the production of world-class flowers. With the farm being located near Mt Kenya, the company has invested in rain harvesting by constructing dams to ensure a year-round supply of water which is crucial in flower production. The farm also shares water with the community by supplying piped water to several homesteads around the farm and setting up water tanks with clean drinking water that can easily be accessed.

But it hasn’t been all rosy at the farm. Mathia recalls the challenges that they had to contend with when the world experienced the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The fighting spirit inspired by the founder Madam Lucy Wambui Yinda kept them moving.

The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the biggest tests for the farm’s operations. The farm then being relatively new had just attained its first flush of flowers for harvesting and the world was put on lockdown, flowers couldn’t be transported and the business almost came to a halt. “A bulk of flower farms closed operations and sent their workers home. But even with the tough prevailing circumstances, we decided to keep our workers in the farm. We owe it to the grace of God because when the restrictions were lifted, we had good production of flowers which we eventually sold,” Mathia opined.

The 5-year journey and the well-deserved successes are inspiring Kikwetu Flowers to new heights. Kikwetu Flowers is looking at expanding their area of production and introducing new varieties to respond to market demands. “Our journey is far from over, we are constantly innovating and improving, exploring new ways to enhance the beauty and longevity of our roses. Whether it’s through new varieties, sustainable farming practices, or innovative packaging, we are committed to ensuring that our roses continue to delight and inspire generations to come,” said Yinda.

In a nutshell, when you choose Kikwetu Flowers, you are not just buying roses; you are investing in a love that will last. Their roses have traveled far and wide, spreading joy and beauty wherever they go. From weddings to anniversaries, birthdays to graduations, the roses have been a part of countless special moments, adding a touch of elegance and romance to every occasion. They are not just flowers; they are a symbol of love, a reminder that beauty is timeless and love knows no bounds.

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