The inaugural edition of Flower Logistics Africa 2016 (FLA 2016) held on November 8 and 9, in Nairobi, Kenya, got to a good start with Jane Ngige, the chief executive officer of Kenya Flower Council (KFC) officially inaugurating the event and delivering the keynote address calling industry stakeholders to work towards making Kenyan flower industry the world leader in flower export.

The main theme of the event was "From farm to vase: Building sustainable cut flower supply chain". The objective was to give a platform for the flower growers and exporters to meet with other stakeholders in the supply chain and address the challenges faced by them.

The two-day event, organised by Logistics Update Africa, a key Africa focused transport and logistics publication from STAT Media Group, saw participation of 95 delegates over 2 days representing exporters, service providers, industry organisations and government.

Ngige said that the Kenya flower industry need to ensure the 'A' quality flower leaving farms reach consumers in all destinations as the same 'A' quality. According toNgige, flowers from Kenya are going to over 60 different destinations worldwide. "500 tonnes of flower are airlifted daily from Kenya," she added.

Conference participants acknowledged that there was the stereotype in Europe about the African flower not being the best quality. This, according to many participants, hinders African flower exporters from getting the best prices at auctions.

The inaugural session witnessed an objective and no holds barred discussion on how to build a sustainable cut flower supply chain. Ivan Mbowa, co-founder & CEO, Umati Capital, moderated the session. The panelists for the session included: Jane Ngige, CEO, KFC; Sanjeev Gadhia, Founder & CEO, Astral Aviation; Jack Mwaura, Group head of commercial, Siginon Aviation and BimalKantaria, Director, Elgon Kenya.

"Lack of direct flights to new markets like America and transportation of flowers within Kenya are the other key challenges," pointed out Mwaura. Gadhia also pointed out major challenges such as infrastructure, number of stops before airport, more capacity than demand while speaking during the event.

"Many African growers are at a disadvantage as compared to their counterparts across the globe due to poor infrastructure support here in Kenya," said Kantaria.

The second session on the inaugural day moderated by J M Mandelbaum, CEO, Steward Ventures, with panelist John Mungai, Agronomist, SGS (Kenya) – Food and Life, majorly discussed how prudential care make breakthroughs feasible for individual firms and for value chain allies.

The discussions came to a conclusion that breakthrough can be achieved in delivering a subsidy from downstream to upstream, efficient payments, full value change de-risking. Kenya has moved to the branding of Quality Assured Cementing this idea can be done by enlisting the buyer to love the grower.

John Kihia, technical manager, Oasis Floralife Africa; Khilan Patel, managing director, Ever Flora; Matthea van der Mollen, general manager, East Africa, Royal Flora Holland and Jeroen van der Hulst, director/ owner, FlowerWatch were the panelists for the session on "Open marketplace vs. auction houses and its implications on the supply chain. The session was moderated by Reji John, Editor, Logistics Update Africa.

In the last session of the first day, innovative solutions to improve the value chain were discussed. The session was moderated by BimalKantaria, Elgon Kenya with panelists: Chris McLean, Customer Relations and Projects manager, Panalpina Airflo; Parit Shah, director, Silpack Industries and Christo van der Meer, Sr. consultant, Supply Chain Innovation, Royal Flora Holland and Joseah Rotich, Chief Trade Development Officer (CTDO), Government of Kenya. "A lot of growers need to move towards vacuum cooling which does wonders for the end product," said McLean of Panalpina Airflo.

Joseah Rotich said that the Kenyan government is supporting Kenya Flower Council in trade agreements with Europe. Kenya will continue enjoying duty-free and quota-free access for its goods to the European Union (EU) even if neighbouring countries fail to approve the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). While speaking during the session, he said that Kenya will, however, not enjoy other benefits that come with the EPA until all East African Community (EAC) partners ratify the deal.

The second days' first session concentrated on an important topic, "Trade trade agreements for market access: the pros and cons for the flower industry in Africa". The panelists part of the discussion were Jerome Heeve, director, Aver Flora and Sarah Wangui, managing director, Network Airline Services. The session was moderated by John Mathenge, executive director of Federation of East African Freight Forwarders Associations (FEAFFA).

"Let us level the playground and do business together, we all have a role in ensuring quality delivery," said Mathenge.

The last session of the two-day event was on "Better Logistics leads to better profitability" moderated by Logistics Update Africa editor Reji John. The session featured Ken Mbogo, regional director for Africa, Saudia Cargo; Peter Musola, Cargo commercial manager, Kenya Airlines; John Kihia, Technical manager, Oasis Floralife Africa and Jane Ngige of Kenya Flower Council.

Flower Logistics Africa 2016 was sponsored by Astral Aviation, Network Aviation Group, Saudia Cargo and AirFrance-KLM-Martinair Cargo. The event had Kenya Flower Council (KFC) as its official partners and Africa Logistics Network as its supporting partner.

Commenting on the two-day event Ngige said, "We have planted the seed and have realized that we all have a stake in this conversation. We are looking forward to future talks. Much work still needs to be done and it all relies on collaboration between all suppliers and operators in the industry. We hope that next time this conference happens again, we will be looking at milestones based on discussions we had."

Ken Mbogo of Saudia Cargo said: "we got more than what we expected." For Chris McLean, Panalpina Airflo, the event "provided a great variety of panel speakers, well curated session subjects and a well managed and close knit interactive sessions."

Read Full Article