The 18th edition of the Naivasha Horticultural Fair, Naivasha HortiFair, kicked off amid fervor and fanfare as industry players congregated to interact, network and showcase the best innovations in the industry.
The annual event returned after a two-year COVID-induced hiatus like it never left.
The fair, that initially targeted flower farms and players in the floriculture industry has grown to include the entire industry and has positioned itself as the largest show in Africa and beyond. This year’s edition attracted over 70 exhibitors and more than 3,000 visitors from both local and international space.
“What particularly stood out during this year’s show was the huge interest from local growers. From exhibitors to visitors the enthusiasm was very evident. It is a good sign because it shows how the horticulture industry has come of age and the need to have this platform in order for the big players in the industry to interact with the small-scale players and exchange ideas,” said Richard Mcgonnell, the Chairman of Naivasha Horticultural Fair.
Exhibition booths and pavilions dotting a collage of colours and designs were immaculately arranged at the historic Naivasha Sports Club, the venue of the fair. From flower farms, car manufacturers, financial institutions and agrochemical chemicals, the sports club was a bustling with activity as exhibitors put their best foot forward to showcase products and services to potential buyers.
“It is my first time to attend the show. As a small-scale farmer, I am learning so much from the fair especially on good farm management. The fact that very many seeds and input companies are here gives me an opportunity to sample what they have to offer and listen to the experts’ advice before making my purchase decision,” said Samuel Kinga a small scale cereals farmer who had traveled from Eldoret to attend the fair.
“I run a small business selling water pumps and other irrigation materials. Attending the show has given me an opportunity to interact with suppliers and potential partners because I have been very keen to collaborate with who offer quality products at reasonable rates. I am happy to say I have found a new partner at the show,” said Luke Omollo, a Nairobi-based business man.
Despite being buffeted by COVID-19 and other shocks, players in the industry got a chance to catch up on the developments in the industry while discussing potential partnership geared towards growing the industry.
“It is the whole reason why we started the fair. To provide an informal outdoor atmosphere where people in the horticulture industry can discuss how best to grow the industry through partnerships and collaborations. I am happy to report that despite the pandemic, numerous deals were sealed at the fair. The show recorded tremendous success. We were jittery about attendance because people are still jittery about the COVID strains but the show exceeded our expectations in terms of attendance,” added Richard.
Key sponsors of the event included agro-input company Elgon Kenya, AgroChem Africa Limited and Oro Agri&Trade Corp.
The proceeds of the show have for a long time gone to local charities including establishment of schools, health units, maternal care, toilets, water tanks and rescue center for abused children.
“We are happy to report that we will be starting the construction of new classes from the proceeds of the just concluded Fair. We have seen the numerous benefits previous fairs have had on the surrounding communities and that is why we do what we do,” said Richard.
As the horticulture industry evolves and experiences success, threats and opportunities in equal measure, from the pandemic, conflicts, emerging markets and new ways of doing business, the fair is positioning itself as a focal point in bringing buyers and sellers across the world together while allowing hem deliberate on the prospects of the sector. “Moving forward we can only get bigger and better. We are looking at accommodating all the feedback we have received and being an active player in boosting the prospects of the industry which remains a lifeline for the country’s economy,” said Richard.
For Samuel, the expectations are to expand his fresh produce farm from the advice he received at the fair and hopefully become an exporter and an exhibitor at the next fair. “I learnt so much about accessing the export markets and establishing my niche in my trade. I would want to showcase my business in the next show,” he said.