Karuturi flower farm put under receivership

Karuturi flower farm put under receivership
Karuturi workers protest outside the farm over delayed wages. (Photo:File/Standard)
By Antony Gitonga                           

Naivasha, Kenya: The horticulture sector suffered a major blow after the country's largest flower farm Karuturi Ltd was placed under receivership.

A few days before Valentine when demand for roses is high, CFC bank took over the running of the Naivasha based flower farm.

Kieran Day and Ian Small of financial services firm have been appointed as the receiver managers and security group G4S took control of the farm’s assets.

SEE ALSO :CBK seeks answers about Karuturi saga

The fate over 3,000 workers was not clear as they camped outside the farm's gate waiting for communication from the new managers.

The move comes a few days after The Sunday Standard in an exclusive story revealed the crisis that was facing the workers and their families.

In the green houses, roses ready for harvest lay uncollected as it emerged that the workers had not reported for duty for three days.

At its peak the farm was dubbed as the world leading producer of roses at 1m stems per day but financial constrains has adversely affected its services.

In the last five months workers have gone without salaries while electricity and water have been disconnected as the workers endured on poor working condition.

And on Tuesday morning, the bank took over the running of the farm with an impeccable source indicating that the farm owed the bank and other debtors over Sh400m.

Addressing the workers, the community chairman Peter Mehta confirmed that the farm was under receivership.

Mehta told the workers that new managers had promised to address the workers woes and way forward by Friday.

"The farm has been taken over by CFC bank over a pending loan and they are going through the books before addressing the workers," he said.

The chairman called on the workers to be peaceful and patient as the receiver managers addressed the grievances.

"Workers have gone under untold suffering and we have raised the issue with the President as Naivasha Mp has failed to address our problems," he said.

A worker in the farm Peter Karatina said that they were unsure of their fate but were hopeful that the new managers would pay all their dues.

Karatina told of their suffering as they went without salaries, water and electricity in their camps raising fears of a disease outbreak.

"Bright students are still at home as their parents cannot raise the school fees and some women have turned to prostitution to make ends meet," he said.

The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) Organizing secretary Meshack Khisa said that they would make sure that the workers were paid all their dues before the new investor came in.

He said that COTU secretary-general Francis Atwoli was in the forefront in making sure that the workers received justice.

"We welcome the move to out the farm under receivership but the new managers should make sure that the workers get all their dues," he said.

Later in a press statement the new receiver managers said that they had already received inquiries from several parties interested in the farm.                                

“We are in the initial stages of assessing the state of Karuturi’s business and we have received enquiries from parties interested in acquiring this business,” said Day one of the managers.

Karuturi Ltd flower farm receivership