Cheap Valentine roses have high ecological price for Kenyan lake

February 14th, 2009 - 2:39 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 14 (ANI): A biologist has warned that cheap Valentine roses exported for sale in the UK from Kenya is having a devastating effect on the ecology of Lake Naivasha, which is the centre of Kenyas horticultural industry.

Dr David Harper, ecology and conservation biologist at the University of Leicester, who has conducted research for over 25 years at Lake Naivasha in Kenya, warned that cut-price Valentine roses exported for sale in the UK were bleeding that country dry.

He claimed that cheap roses grown by companies that had no concern for the environment were having a destructive effect on Lake Naivasha.

According to him, the demand for the ten thousand tonnes of roses sold in the UK for Valentines Day and for Mothers Day had contributed to the devastation of the ecosystem at the lake.

Instead, Dr Harper urged UK shoppers to buy Fair Trade roses, produced by companies that were conscientious and had a transparent supply chain.

Roses that come cheap are grown by companies that have no concern for the environment, who cut corners and avoid legislation, who sell their flowers into the auction in Amsterdam so that all the buyer knows is the flowers come from Holland, Dr Harper said.

In reality, they have come from Kenya where the industry is - literally - draining that country dry, he added.

However, some companies took a more responsible approach and sold direct to British supermarkets - many of them being Fair Trade certified.

These companies want a sustainable future for the wildlife and the environment, as well as the people, where they grow their roses. Sadly, there are not enough of them, said Dr Harper.

At Lake Naivasha, the good companies make up about half of the total. That is not enough; together, the industry is sucking the lake dry. The countrys legislation is strong, but its enforcement is weak so companies whose only interest is profit take advantage of that, he added.

Almost half a million people now live around the shores of the lake - drawn there by the flower trade.

The shanty towns that have emerged around the lake have no sanitation. Water comes from the lake and sewage returns to it.

This pressure - from people - is destroying the lake that supports their jobs lives and their livelihoods. (ANI)

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