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State in plans to indemnify farmers' loss

By ANTONY GITONGA | January 19th 2015

The Government is exploring ways of compensating horticulture farmers who lost close to Sh1billion during the three-month Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) impasse.

This came as details emerged that the sector lost Sh300 million for every month the impasse lasted, with flower farmers being the hardest hit with losses running up to Sh150 million per month.

According to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Felix Koskei, talks were in high gear with the European Union (EU) on how to compensate the farmers.

Operational costs

Koskei said the taxes imposed on exporters forced them to cut down their operational costs with hundreds of Kenyans losing their jobs.

He said the flower industry was hard hit adding that the Government had moved in to address the challenges facing the sector.

“We are happy the EPA issue was sorted out and we are working on ways of addressing the challenges facing the horticulture sector,” he said.

He said the sector played a critical role in the economy of the country noting that the Government had created a conducive environment for players in the industry to conduct their business.

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GDP contribution

“The sector contributes Sh40 billion to the Gross Domestic Product and thousands of Kenyans depend on it directly or indirectly and hence cannot be ignored,” he said.

Koskei was speaking to the press when he led government officials on a tour of Fleur Africa Flower Farm and Longonot Horticulture Limited in Naivasha.

The CS said some Kenyan flower companies had diversified their markets to other continents as opposed to the reliance on Europe.

Northern America

He pointed to Fleur Africa that was exporting flowers to Northern America as an example and called on other farmers to try the market.

“Despite the challenges like having no direct flights to the US, this farm has proven that diversifying in the markets was the key to substantive growth,” he said.

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