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June 22, 2011

Kenya: Flower farms not at fault for lake pollution, says report

by Noah Cheploen

Flower farms are not entirely to blame for the problems facing Kenya's Lake Naivasha and the environment around it.

Scientists from Britain's University of Leicester said that the country's second largest fresh water lake was receding because of over-exploitation, among other factors.

Dr David Harper and Ed Morrison said that evidence indicates that the fast growing flower industry is very well-controlled, thus not a major risk to survival of the water resource.

“The real cause of the lake’s deterioration,” says Harper, “is the same basic cause as everywhere else in the world – too many people using up too much water and wasting most of it because they think it is free.”

The findings were contained in a report delivered to Prime Minister Raila Odinga by the two scientists.

“It is very easy to come to Lake Naivasha as a visitor or journalist, see all the greenhouses around the lake and immediately just blame flower growing,” said Harper, whohas been researching on Rift Valley lakes for the last 30 years. .

Flower growing is important to the country’s economy because it is the biggest earner of foreign exchange – above tourism, coffee and tea. Over half of all roses sold in UK supermarkets come from Naivasha.

“The flower industry is conscientious about the water taken out most particularly the growers who sell to European supermarkets because they know that consumer groups can keep a check on the water they use as well as the conditions of their workers.

“UK supermarkets should realise though, that they are being left behind by the Europeans. The Swiss and the Germans can see that, to make their supply chain sustainable, they need to put some profits back into ecological restoration. British supermarkets need to do more or they could lose the market in a few years time,” he said.


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