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Flower farms want cargo planes increased

NEWS
By Antony Gitonga | August 5th 2020

Labour CS Simon Chelugui (L) joins in a tour of Naivasha based Ol Njorowa flower farm to access effects of Covid-19 on the sector. (PHOTO; Antony Gitonga)

The Kenya Flower Council has called for increased cargo planes to meet rising demand of flowers in the European Union (EU) market.

According to the council, the floriculture sector was on the recovery path, following Covid-19 that saw collapse of the market leading to losses running to over Sh10 billion.

This came as it emerged that the country was exporting over 80 per cent of floriculture products, a rise from 30 per cent at the height of the pandemic.

According to the council Chief Executive Clement Tulezi, freight charges remained a major hindrance to the sector that employs over 150,000 people directly.

He said farmers were exporting over 500 tonnes daily despite the high freight charges.

Tulezi said farmers were paying Sh237 ($2.2) a kilo - a rise from Sh160 ($1.5) before the pandemic hit the nation, terming it a major challenge to farmers.

“Currently, we are exporting up to 80 per cent of our produce and we can increase this to near 100 per cent if we get more cargo planes and lower freight charges,” he said. “We were losing Sh30 million daily in the last three months but there is improvement in the sector with the majority of the workforce resuming duty,” he said.

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On the Collective Bargaining Agreements, Tulezi admitted that it would be impossible to review the workers’ salaries this year.

Agricultural Employers Association Chief Executive Wesley Siele said they were in negotiations with the State and Cotu on the need to postpone the pay negotiations.

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