By MARK KAPCHANGA
KENYA: Export revenue from Kenya’s flower sector is set to rise sharply following the launch of a toolkit that measures carbon emissions.
The Carbon Reduction and Opportunities Toolkit (Carrot), a computer-generated data platform, is the first of its kind in the world.
It will capture data on water usage, fuel, gas, kerosene and power, and indicate sources over a period of 13 months, the minimum measurable time. Pesticide and fertiliser application, and cold storage operations will also be captured.
Once the information is fed into the system, the toolkit automatically calculates the percentage of carbon emissions, making it possible for a grower to know the highs and lows from each application.
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The development is a relief to a sector whose growth globally is being constricted by the markets that are sensitive to carbon impacts in production processes. Importing destinations are continually insisting on products cultivated under a regime of environmental care, minimising water and energy.
The heightened consumer awareness on the links between carbon emissions and the global climate change agenda has in turn increased the demand for carbon-efficient products.
The new platform, therefore, gives the country’s key revenue earner an edge in the market.
According to Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Officer Jane Ngige, the kit will provide crucial data that will show that the flowers are grown in a low carbon emission environment. This, she says, will increase marketability.
The floriculture industry contributed over Sh47.3 billion to Kenya’s economy in 2011. Over 90,000 people work on flower farms with over two million people depending on the business.
In the past, the sector has had existing data on power and water usage. But this has not been used as a measure of carbon emissions, except for a few growers with international connections, who are required to provide the data for carbon taxes.
“The data generated by the Carrot will show the world that despite airlifting our flowers, the carbon from airfreight is much less compared to production processes in Europe, where they use more energy to light and heat greenhouses,” said Ngige.
This is not the first time Kenya’s flower industry is venturing into environment-sensitive projects. Oserian, perhaps Kenya’s largest flower farm, has developed geothermal energy for heating greenhouses while Naivasha-based Bilashaka and Timaflo in Nanyuki use solar energy.
Horticulture experts say most of the flower farms in the country have also invested in alternative water sources such as boreholes to reduce reliance on lakes and rivers, a development that contributes to carbon reduction.
“The flower industry is moving towards market sustainability, cost reductions and efficient utilisation of resources,” said Ngige.