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Exhibitor Champions Environmental Sustainability at IFTEX

Today, as the world marks World Environment Day hosted by Saudi Arabia, the International Floriculture Trade Expo (IFTEX) enters its second day in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Questions on biodiversity and sustainable agricultural practices linger as the billion-dollar industry comes together. Gatoka Limited, a major exporter of horticultural products champions sustainable practices and environmental restoration on the sidelines as the expo gets into the second day.

The theme of this year’s Environment Day is Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought. Verily, the horticulture industry is one of the major contributors to chemical pollution as the activity includes heavy use of chemical contaminants such as pesticides. Chemical contaminants make their way into waterways via spray drift from arable land and runoff.

Kenya is a major exporter of horticultural products. Statistics show that in 2022, Kenya exported nearly 603.8 thousand metric tons of fresh horticultural products. The volume decreased by 13 percent in comparison to the previous year. In the first ten months of 2023 alone, Kenya exported a total of 580,648 tonnes of horticulture produce. Cut flowers constituted the main horticulture item traded by Kenya in the international market.

Gatoka Limited, located in Murang’a County has been in operation for more than three decades, during which it has grown from less than two hectares to 17 hectares. Speaking to Jared Momanyi, he attributed the growth to sustainable practices. “Our company operates sustainably, with regards to the environment and the local community. This has ensured our growth and endurance in this competitive market.”

He highlighted that the industry heavily relies on chemical inputs to ensure premium quality, however, consideration has to be taken of the practices. “We have soak pits which we use to sanitize the chemically contaminated water from our activities. This water is then reused in our operations, ensuring limited waste and protection of our environment.”

Soak pits which we use to sanitize the chemically contaminated water

The company has constructed a water reservoir to ensure that excess water does not go to waste.

“The construction of the reservoir has not only ensured that the farm does not lack water all year round but that the local community also benefits. We have installed water tanks in schools with fresh and clean drinking water. This has enhanced our relationship with the community, not to mention the scholarships we provide to learners,” said Principal Secretary of the State Department for Cabinet Affairs, Dr. Idris Salim Dokota, during the opening ceremony of the Expo whose theme is “Sustainability. “

The construction of the reservoir has not only ensured that the farm does not lack water all year round but that the local community also benefits

“Moreover, Gatoka Limited also prides itself in the use of green energy. Momanyi applauded the firm’s installation of solar panels and transition to green energy as a milestone. “The world currently reels from the adverse effects of climate change, therefore, every individual or entity must make conservation effort.”

“Sustainability is not just a buzzword, it is our shared responsibility. Our government actively promotes eco-friendly practices such as integrated pest management, water conservation, and organic fertilization. Additionally, by encouraging farmers to adopt renewable energy sources and minimize their carbon footprint, we protect both our industry and our environment” Dokota said.

According to the International Energy Agency, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere from energy-related activities increased by 0.9% in 2022. This amounted to an additional 321 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, bringing the total to over 36.8 billion metric tons.

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