Kenya’s flower production now accounts for seven per cent of the world’s output, according to the latest statistics from the Kenya Flower Council (KFC).
And though the country is now ranked third after world leaders Colombia and Ecuador, the flower sector has had to face down numerous challenges to register growth in the last couple of years, according to KFC Chief Executive Jane Ngige.
“The country’s flower industry’s growth has risen from zero to seven per cent in the global market in about 15 years,” she said. Colombia’s flower sector, on the other hand, is about 40 years old.
Ngige said that in 2014, production rose to 130,000 tonnes of flowers worth Sh54.6 billion from 120,000 tonnes worth Sh46 billion the previous year.
She attributed this to good farming practices, and the sector getting a more positive image in the last couple of years.
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The CEO was speaking in Naivasha during the launch of a new flower chemical, Luna Tranquility, produced by Bayer Ltd.
However, Ms Ngige said the sector faces a grim future, with projections that production will drop in the coming year as a result of excess supply in the global market, and currency fluctuations.
“Flower farmers procure inputs using the dollar, which is currently fluctuating in value against the shilling, while we get returns in euros, which is relatively stable,” she said.
Other challenges the sector expects to affect production are the El Niño rains that could damage infrastructure and increase the prevalence of flower diseases, as well as high taxes from county and national governments.
“The coming year will be a difficult one due to the many challenges facing the sector, and if we can hit last year’s targets, then we shall be comfortable with that,” she said.
Also speaking at the launch in Naivasha, Bayer’s head of marketing for East Africa, John Kanyingi, said the firm’s product can contain mildew disease, a particular concern with the expected heavy rains.
He said the disease was responsible for 40 per cent of farmers’ costs of production, with the new product able to decrease this to 20 per cent.