It’s a rosy business for street flower farmers - Daily Nation

It’s a rosy business for street flower farmers

Saturday May 10 2014

George Moraga shows off flower seedlings at his nursery on Ngong Road, Nairobi.  PHOTO | EFF ANGOTE

George Moraga shows off flower seedlings at his nursery on Ngong Road, Nairobi. PHOTO | EFF ANGOTE 

By VINCENT ACHUKA
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The five-kilometre stretch from the City Mortuary to Lenana School on Ngong Road, Nairobi, is arguably one of the busiest in the city.

On a bad day, a motorist can spend up to two hours over the short distance that should take at most 10 minutes when there is no traffic.

But if city roads were to be judged by their beauty and not how slow they are because of traffic jams, then the stretch on Ngong Road takes the crown.

On the side of the thoroughfare, there are dozens of farmers who grow flowers, tree and fruit seedlings and sell to city residents, mainly in the affluent suburbs.

One may not give them much thought, but theirs is a lucrative venture that has seen their numbers, species of the plants they grow and customers increase.
George Moraga is among the farmers growing flowers along Ngong Road. He has been running a seedlings nursery there since 2001.

“You say three each. Kent mangoes, tangerines and grafted Citrumelo oranges seedlings. They will cost Sh1,050. I will send someone to pack them for you,” Moraga speaks on the phone before we settle down for an interview.

Growing up in Molo in 1990s, Moraga says he wanted to be a botanist. However, his dream was cut short by the tribal clashes, which saw his family relocate from the area.  

He moved to Nairobi, where he picked up the art of growing seedlings in nurseries from his elder brother. After high school, he plunged into the trade along Ngong Road.

Today, he tells Seeds of Gold he makes good money from his roadside farm despite stiff competition.

“There are over 200 people running more than 500 nurseries along Ngong Road, but the good thing about flowers is that they are like beautiful women; they will always be in demand,” he says.

Moraga reckons that as long as Nairobi exists, there will always be market for his seedlings.

Peter Irungu, Moraga’s colleague, says starting a flower or tree nursery is one of the easiest ventures as along as one spots a good location like Ngong Road.

“You need small nylon bags, good soil, and a site with good traffic, water and seeds.”

Many people who buy flowers along the road do not plan to but they are attracted as they pass.

“By seeing the plants as they pass, they remember that they were supposed to plant flowers or they can beautify their homes by planting trees or fruits. They will stop and buy.”

As in any other business, patience and passion is a