Flower exports drop by 7.5pc on market lockdown

A worker from the Naivasha-based Maridadi flower farm works on roses for export. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Kenya’s flower exports dropped by about 7.5 per cent in the last one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, high freight charges and soaring cost of farm inputs.

And as the world gears for Valentine’s Day, the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) is projecting growth in the floriculture sector if the government moves in to support farmers.

KFC Chief Executive Clement Tulezi said farmers exported 160,000 tonnes of flowers last year compared to 173,000 tonnes in 2020.

He attributed the drop to the effects of the pandemic and the new health regulations that put several European countries in lockdown.

“We recorded a slight decline in flower exports last year but we hope this will change once we get support from the government,” the CEO said.

The council raised concerns over the rising cost of freight and failure by the government to release a Sh1.5 billion stimulus fund promised in May last year.

Mr Tulezi said President Uhuru Kenyatta promised the farmers Sh1.5 billion to deal with the high shipping costs in an address to the nation last year.

“Months after the promise, we are yet to hear from the Treasury, and high freight and fertiliser charges continue to be the biggest challenges for the sector,” he said.

Demand for flowers is up as Valentine’s Day nears but Tulezi said farmers could not hit their targets due to lack of capacity and high charges.

He said flower demand stood at 5,000 tonnes per week but farmers could only export 3,000 tonnes.