The consortium of Chinese firms comprising Julong and Oriental Agricultural group of companies have been checking the market in the past few months and have reached out to county officials and business lobbies in the region over their plans. “I have engaged them in serious talks and they have done their own preliminary assessments. We are soon to finalise on the take off. The investors are planning to start their business in the coming weeks,” says Kamau Njuguna, chairman of the Kenya National Chambers of Commerce and Industry Nakuru branch.
The move by the Chinese investors comes just weeks after the court allowed receiver managers to put assets of the giant Karuturi flower farm on sale over a 3,8 million euro loan it borrowed from CfC Bank. The PSJ Advisory Group, the receiver managers appointed by CfC Bank, had given interested buyers up to Friday last week to submit bids for the Naivasha-based flower firm. It is so far not clear whether the Chinese Consortium is eyeing Karuturi’s assets, which include 126 hectares of flowers in greenhouses, eight hectares of open air rose cultivation and housing units for more than 2000 workers. There is also a school and clinic. The Chinese consortium is said be planning to also venture into fish and sisal farming in Naivasha.
Unlike most Kenyan farms which target the European Union market, the Chinese investors want to grow quality flowers for markets in China and Japan. Recent data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that 114,762 metric tonnes of cut flowers were exported to the EU in 2014 compared to 103,779 metric tonnes in 2013. Karuturi Limited in the meantime wants the Kenyan High Court to stop the Mumbai-based ICICI Bank from selling six parcels of land in Naivasha valued at 80 million euros to recover money of an outstanding loan. The land was used to secure a loan between 2010 and 2011. The firm also wants the court to revoke the appointment of a receiver manager — Lolluri Kamasastry — by ICICI.