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FEATURE: Giving Kenya’s flower sector the competitive edge

The Carbon Reduction, Resources and Opportunities Toolkit is making waves in Kenya’s flower sector, achieving international acclaim and private sector demand – reports CDKN’s Africa team.

Kenya’s flower sector contributed over £350 million to the national economy in 2011. The sector accounts for over 35% of all cut flower sales within the European Union. However, heightened awareness of climate change amongst EU consumers is increasing the demand for sustainably sourced, carbon-efficient horticultural produce. In response to this the Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) and Kenya Flower Council (KFC) are strengthening Kenya’s competitive position in global markets by developing accounting and management solutions for greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and water use.

“A recent sectoral competitiveness study highlighted reputation as one of the main threats to the [Kenyan] industry and carbon emissions as a key element to this threat. It is essential to establish our own data in order to monitor and mitigate this threat,” argues Jane Ngige, CEO of the KFC.

The project, which ran from March to October 2013, developed a sectoral GHG management tool, the Carbon Reduction, Resources and Opportunities Toolkit (CaRROT). The toolkit is an accessible and easy to use Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that integrates energy and water trackers with a carbon calculator. The features have been designed with the local Kenyan context in mind. So, for instance, the energy tracker accounts for grid-electricity, non-grid electricity, diesel, petrol and kerosene usage. Water use from diverse sources, including municipal water, boreholes, lakes, rivers, reservoirs and water harvesting, is accounted for. The development process involved technical experts, flower producers, internal farm auditors, government representatives and other key stakeholders.

A fresh bunch of roses taken from a cold storage room sit in a cart ready to be transported to a flower exporter's farm in Naivasha, Kenya

A fresh bunch of roses taken from a cold storage room sit in a cart ready to be transported to a flower exporter’s farm in Naivasha, Kenya

Ten farms assisted in supplying the initial data to build the preliminary tool and an additional ten assisted in the pre-testing phase.  “I think the level of demand [for such a tool] was quite high. The farms were a lot more proactive than we thought they would be; many were eager to help in development and took ownership of the data gathering and testing” recounts Rachel Wanyoike, Camco project manager.

“CaRROT enabled us to [focus] on specific measurements, increasing our efficiency and compliance with various carbon-related market requirements, especially form supermarkets,” says Cecilia Wambua, Environment and Audits Officer at Oserian, the largest Fairtrade certified farm in Kenya

Most existing international certification standards do not require detailed resource tracking. It was however found that many of the larger farms, especially those with an international corporate presence, are already tracking their carbon footprint through internal structures or subcontractors. In this regard, the biggest push for uptake of the CaRROT tool is medium and small scale farms.

“Oserian has measured its carbon footprint since 2010,” says Cecilia. “However, being involved in the development of CaRROT has increased the reliability of the data and affordability by enabling us to use internal human resources to carry out the process.”

Additional outputs from the project include self-regulating voluntary GHG management standards for the sector as well as an assessment of policy and institutional frameworks, legal and regulatory developments in key local and export markets, existing carbon management applications and life-cycle assessments for the sector.

Part of the project was also aimed at highlighting carbon-related financing opportunities.  As Rachel explains, “while we started with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in mind, the demands of the farms shifted our focus from carbon trading to resource management, energy efficiency and smart agricultural, and potential sources for funding such initiatives – specifically.”

The toolkit will not only serve individual farms in tracking resource usage, it has also emerged as a key enabler in establishing a system to collect and analyse aggregated sectoral data. “We don’t yet know what a good flower farm looks like,” says Rachel Wanyoike. “The toolkit will assist in establishing a baseline, and developing internal weighting and benchmarking for the Kenyan sector.” The toolkit development process was key in bringing the KFC and farms together to progress efforts to capture and analyse sectoral data. Data collection through a centralised KFC portal was started in 2011, but uptake has been slow with submitted data incomplete or inaccurate. There has also not been a tool to analyse the data. “Previously farms were just putting data in a black hole, but CaRROT supplies analysis and insight in linking inputs to outputs,” says Rachel. Further plans are to integrate the toolkit into the online platform.

CaRROT has been tested under different scenarios and presented to sector members through two validation workshops. The project also served as a conduit through which to raise awareness on climate change risks and opportunities within the flower sector and popularise self-regulating, voluntary standards. It fits into a more general drive of CDKN’s country programme to communicate climate compatible development to the private sector by outlining actions that can be taken by the private sector to contribute to Kenya’s climate resilient development path. 

The final toolkit was approved in February. The focus for the KFC and partners now shifts towards dissemination. Dissemination will largely be via online platforms with the KFC, HCDA and CDKN websites functioning as the primary portals and KFC’s mailing lists as means of awareness raising.

The project was nominated for an African Climate good practice award.

–          To download the toolkit click here.

–          The voluntary standards can be accessed here.

This project also contributes to the implementation of Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan through development of small-scale energy projects and shifts in energy resources management. By including efficient water resource use, CaRROT supports the National Adaptation Plan.

For more information visit the CDKN project page.

Image courtesy of Antony Njuguna

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