Kenya’s Greenhouses and Sustainability

This has now been certified as producing 2% of Kenya’s GDP, and the industry employs close to 50,000 people. We also touched on the sustainability issues Kenya is facing, such as intensive use of water and nitrates.

The flatlands surrounding Lake Naivasha are increasingly being used for greenhouse production of not only flowers, but also vegetables such as tomatoes. These greenhouses need a regular flow of clean water, as do the geothermal power stations that power the greenhouses. The power stations need the lake because the lake feeds subterranean waterways which drive the steam, which drives the plant’s turbines.

Beyond the greenhouses, what looks like solid land, is actually Lake Naivasha itself. It is being choked by a carpet of water hyacinth, fed by the tons of fertilizer used in the flower industry. If this issue is not addressed, then the industry and the jobs that depend on it will be at a tipping point.

Lake Naivasha is the only source of water in a region that spans 3400sq kilometres, and therefore needs to be looked after. The WWF has launched a huge Payment for Watershed Services (PWS) scheme designed to promote sustainable agriculture in the region. Two major flower growers have signed up for the scheme and most of the producers are starting to clean the water they use before they discharge it.

Robin Parker, head of sales and marketing at bespoke greenhouse designers, Gabriel Ash agrees sustainability is the key;

“It is good to hear that a scheme such as the PWS has been initiated. Sustainability has to be one of the key drivers of the modern world. It is important that the flower growers are using their greenhouses responsibly.”

Indeed the flower producers are acutely aware that having green credentials is essential to being a successful business in the modern age. Although it is still early days, the PWS has demonstrated a collective willingness and commitment by the greenhouse owners, to a sustainable future.

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