This is where your Valentine's Day flowers actually come from

Those beautiful roses sitting in your local florist this weekend? They're remarkably fresh-looking considering the distance they've travelled.

While the Netherlands is still the world's top flower exporter, Kenya has been fast closing the gap.

Cut-flower exports - mostly roses - have rocketed 12-fold to 137,000 tonnes a year since 1988, and are now one of the country's top earners alongside tea and tourism, The Economist reports.

More than 30 per cent of the EU's flower imports now come from Kenya alone.

(Picture: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

(Picture: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

(Picture: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

(Picture: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

While the air miles don't seem to make sense on the face of it, it's actually cheaper, and greener, to grow flowers in the Rift Valley and fly them to across continents than it is to heat greenhouses during European winters.

Working conditions and environmental practices on Kenya's flower farms were under fire a few years ago, but the industry has cleaned up its act of late: according to The Economist, health and safety standards and better water management are now standard.

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