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University of Cambridge (2019)

The power to flourish : unearthing the roots of Kenyan flower producers’ market access strategies

Mwangi, Nungari

Titre : The power to flourish : unearthing the roots of Kenyan flower producers’ market access strategies

Auteur : Mwangi, Nungari

Université de soutenance : University of Cambridge

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2019

Résumé
Powering Kenya’s agricultural economy, the Kenyan flower industry is prided as an example of successful African integration into global agricultural trade. Export markets are bifurcated due to a marked shift from the Dutch flower auctions and an increase in trade within ’direct markets’ which includes supermarkets and florists. While flower production is dominated by a few vertically integrated, large scale flower farms (>100 ha), mid-scale (20-80 hectares) and small-scale (>0.25 hectares) flower farms which are the focus of the thesis, face a unique set of challenges in terms of navigating access to the more stable direct markets. The overall narrative is that even in a buyer-driven market, Kenyan cut flower producers at the mid and small scale have agency, and they exercise their bargaining power for favourable export access by diversification and differentiation in strategies and networks. Two meta-narratives framing the sector coalesce around the development angle which showcases contestations around labour and environmental abuses and the political economy angle focusing on governance structures and power relations of production. This thesis goes deeper than these meta narratives by introducing micro-level, relational perspectives using the GPN framework, and asks what strategies Kenyan mid and small scale cut flower producers employ to navigate the shifts in export markets as producers diversify from the Dutch auctions towards supermarkets. My findings identify diversification as the common factor in mid and small scale producers’ strategies for securing a range of lucrative export markets. Producers’ enhance their bargaining power to access diverse markets through adaptable production, relationally through collective action, and in the regulatory sphere by circumvention, compliance or contestation for more favourable ’rules of the game’. Going beyond labour and environmental analyses, the thesis uniquely analyses the knowledge economy originating from the cut flower sector as an undertheorized aspect of its development impact.

Mots clés : Kenya, flowers, trade, smallholders, mid scale, global production networks, governance, strategy, knowledge economy, roses, naivasha, Netherlands, Dutch flower auction, export

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