Naivasha is in the news as Kikuyu mobs rob, rape, steal and burn. It is also centre of Kenya’s flower business, part of foreign owned horticultural industry that has expanded rapidly in recent years to earn some US$90 Mn.million annually, and a major source of foreign exchange. aivasha has more than 37 flower farms with an estimated workforce of over 40,000 people.
Growing carnations and roses to send by air freight to European and US markets provides many jobs, but Lake Naivasha is now sterile, the fish / protein it yielded has declined to virtually zero, poisoned by chemicals such Methylbromide (a toxic substance banned in most countries under the Montreal protocol) which is still sanctioned by the EU and the US for the production of imported flowers from Kenya.
De -forestation for extending plantations leads to water run off, erosion and further destruction of the lake's biosphere and water extraction further damages the lake.
Employees earn low wages (Annual GDP is US$1,200 per head) to meet the demand - soaring as February 14th beckons. This is what happened last year (31/1/07) "Hundreds of workers at a leading Kenyan flower farm rioted after being sacked en masse for striking in a dispute over wages and working conditions, officials and witnesses said on Tuesday."This rioting was at the 20,000 hectare Oserain flower farm which does massive business with the supermarket chains Tesco, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer ' . "leader in worker welfare" says their website. Fair Trade says the labels in Sainsbury's and now after a launch at the Royal Show this year - Kenya's "Grown Under the Sun" label which, according to Kenya Flower Council chief executive Jane Ngige, has led to increased interest in Kenya produce and a subsequent surge in earnings.
The Kenyan Planning and National Development Ministry produced statistics that showed the industry's earnings hit the Sh31 B. as at June, representing a 57 % growth over a similar period last year backed by a strong demand for cut flowers in key international markets. (report 6/1/08)
Is it possible that this industry is the cause of much of the rage expressed by the raging mobs ?
Don't expect any press / TV analysis of the commercial flower markets of Kenya, who controls it or who extracts the profits from the country ... features to write about St Valentine, full page ads from the supermarkets selling flowers for that "special day". The UK is expected to import 10,000 tonnes of roses for Valentine's Day .
PS : You might be interested in what Hilary Benn (Min Overseas Dev.) had to say , when he spoke to told an international sustainable food conference in February last year . " ... recent research showed that flowers flown from Africa used less energy than those produced in Europe, because they're not grown in heated greenhouses."
"A recent study shows that the emissions produced by growing flowers in Kenya and flying them to the UK can be less than a fifth of those grown in heated and lighted greenhouses in Holland because Kenya is warm and sunny, and heating greenhouses in Holland uses enormous amounts of energy," Mr Benn said in a statement.
Well that pic at the top shows the 50 hectares (at the last count) of the Oserian geothermally heated greenhouses. Here is a close up and a little explanation about how they produce Co2 .. take note Mr Benn. (click to enlarge) learn more at their website.
The Boy David on 10 January 2008 about what the FCO call the "Kenya crisis" (FCO website)
'The principles of our approach remain: to secure a rapid end to the violence: hundreds have already been tragically killed. Kenya’s leaders must live up to their responsibilities, end this violence, and work for the security and safety of the people of Kenya; " etc., etc.,
However it things turn bad there ....The East African Standard Tuesday September 12, 2006 "Flower firms threaten to move to Ethiopia" ..."Sher Agencies, a leading world producer of rose flower, has already acquired a large tract of land in Ethiopia. The firm produces 600 million stems annually. According to Human Resource Manager Mr Martin Kamwaro, Ethiopia is offering them a 10-year tax holiday."..."Kijabe Limited, another leading farm, is believed to have sold off their flower farm and sought greener pastures in Ethiopia. Two other Dutch Investors at the Three Point farm are among those who have relocated to Ethiopia, "
Just as the highly mobile garment industry there is always a work force somewhere willing to work for slave wages. Which is why the mobs are out in Naivasha - but don't expect to read it in the Daily Mail.