‘A rose for every emotion’ is the culmination of PJ Dave Group’s efforts over the years; optimising the best natural resources and industry expertise that Kenya can offer before distributing its resultant products on a global scale
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
For more than 20 years, PJ Dave Group has strived to bring the best quality roses not just to its domestic East Africa region, but to the world. And what has blossomed - as well as the market-leading flowers - is a business reputed on an intercontinental scale.
It is the sheer variety of roses available that has set the Company apart for much of its two decade journey, and while this has manifested in export and marketing opportunities around the globe, the quality itself can be attributed to the hard work carried out at its Kenyan farms; PJ Dave Flowers, Isinya and PJ Dave Flowers, Timau.
“PJ Dave Flowers Farm, Isinya is located at Kajiado, Kenya. The location altitude provides the ideal environment and climate to grow our unique varieties that are unparalleled. Our range of unique, vibrant and highly popular flowers come in various head sizes and lengths (from 4.5 centimetres (cm) head to 6.5 cm). We are Kenya’s leading growers and exporters of high quality roses,” the business proudly explains on its website.
PJ Dave Flowers Timau, Rising Sun Flower Farm is located on the slopes of Mount Kenya and shares the same end results and diversity of product, but from a much higher altitude.
And as such, main varieties of more than 50 including its exclusive variety, Rhodos continue to ensure that PJ Dave can boast one of the most comprehensive assortments in the industry.
Group General Manager, Thirumalai.S adds: “It’s then about making sure this variety is marketed on as large a scale as possible and we have increased our marketing reach recently through our own marketing companies in Australia and Singapore.
“The company out there takes the flowers from here in Kenya and sells them to the wholesalers in the area. As well as simply expanding our footprint, moreover, it also fills the gaps when our other markets in Europe are in their low season, so we can make sure we are marketing our products all year round.”
Further expansion in Central Europe, where its Rhodos product in particular is very strong, will be compounded by a similar strategic approach and physical presence in the UK over the coming months; once again meeting existing consumer demand, and proactively creating new demand, simultaneously.
Uniformity and quality
Inevitably, the aforementioned product variety made available by PJ Dave is a key differentiator in a competitive, fast changing, and fluctuating market. That being said, there are three additional market advantages that Thirumalai attributes to the Company’s long-term success, beyond just its portfolio.
“Firstly, whatever varieties we choose to produce and then to distribute, they receive the right practice,” he explains. “What this means is addressing a rose’s most important aspect: its vase life. Usually when a customer receives the flower it will stay around for about seven-10 days. If you take our Rhodos though, it can achieve a three week vase life and most of our flowers last at least 14 days.
“This is achieved through the purified water we use during the fertigation process. Standard water has a lot of bacterial infections which, if they get into a flower, causes the flower to droop. You can see it even before it leaves the farms usually, and it inevitably affects the overall vase life of a flower. By purifying the water as we do, we prevent this from happening and therefore increase the vase life of the flower.”
Catering also for the end of the farming cycle, the second differentiator alludes to the feeds and treatment that each flower receives post growth; ensuring standardisation and utmost care in each case.
The General Manager continues: “Finally, after it’s been treated properly, it’s all about cold-chain management. Once you have the flowers they need to be transported from the greenhouses within 30 minutes to the cold store, where they are then kept at a set temperature for six hours. There they take in good water and get cooled before going to the grading hall for 45 minutes, prior to being taken back to the cold store overnight to be kept in water. We even do the packing the next morning in the cold store before transporting it in a refrigerator to the airport.”
Achieving uniformity and quality in equal measure, it is this kind of care and consideration that ensures differentiation, not only between the types of roses being produced, but between PJ Dave and its competitors.
Naturally, as a result, long-term relationships have been formed, both in terms of the end user/clients, and especially in regards to the Company’s supply chain and business partner network.
But when analysing and identifying potential new links throughout the value chain, reputation isn’t taken at face value; PJ Dave realising the importance of a more bespoke, personal relationship.
“We look at the potential supplier, and we look at our products and then we do trials which are recorded and verified properly across parameters including quality, safety, and comparative effects on the water quality, the flowers’ vase life, and their leaf quality,” Thirumalai notes. “Once we are convinced on all of these fronts we will enter the negotiation phase, ensuring we are entering a partnership that will work over a sustained period of time.”
To alleviate some of the risks and challenges that come with finding a responsible and suitable supply chain partner, the Company has also gone one step further through the introduction of PJ Dave Logistics. Based at Nairobi airport the logistics hub not only brings the notion of supply chain in-house but it does so in a way to consolidate clients’ overall horticulture needs by sharing the storage and distribution space with likeminded Kenyan farms.
Thirumalai elaborates: “Some clients might want carnations or other flower types as well as roses, which they would buy from other farms, and we consolidate the overall orders by putting our quality control and efficiency into it for the overall satisfaction of the clients.
“This is one of the key goals for us moving into 2018, alongside another diversification which will see us move into avocado fruit farming as well. Serving the Middle East and Europe initially, PJ Dave Fruits will have another farm set up which we are looking to finalise in the coming months, and will be supported by a greater online marketing presence both there and in our existing markets.”
Encapsulated suitably under the banner, ‘friendly farming’, PJ Dave’s commitment to client satisfaction is a living, breathing philosophy; leading aptly into the Company’s remaining goals for the years ahead.
“Friendly farming has been taken to the next level with us setting up two 340KW solar projects at our farms for more sustainable energy production, while we also want to become more socially responsible, supporting the public and giving them good environmental and social protection.
“Being a more ethical business will ultimately help to support us in our main goal which is to be the leader in the flower industry.”