Flower sector rebounds after Coronavirus storm
The flower sector has fully recovered from Covid-19 impacts although lack of cargo flights and high prices of fertiliser continue to be a major challenge.
Kenya Flower Council (KFC) says transportation of flowers across the European Union (EU) is now easier unlike a year ago. This came as the farmers identified the escalating prices of fuel and fertiliser as the major challenges currently facing the sector that employs thousands directly and indirectly.
Clement Tulezi, KFC chief executive said the sector had fully recovered from the averse effects of the pandemic with transportation of cargo generally back to had eased though availability of freights continued to be a challenge.
“Currently, the emerging challenges in the sector are the new stringent rules by the EU which include reducing use of chemicals, fertiliser and water by the farmers,” he said. Speaking to Journalists following Covid-19 outbreak in the country two years ago, Tulezi described the situation as pathetic, saying flower farms were sending home workers due to the economic effects of the pandemic.
Destroying the flowers
“We have been hit very hard, unlike other industries… say manufacturing that can wait to see impacts in a week or a month. Ours is immediate,” he said.
The flower farms are harvesting and destroying the flowers “because we cannot ship them anywhere,” said Tulezi in late March 2020, adding that there is very little going to Germany, the UK and Japan, but the rest of the markets are closed.
Speaking to Business Hub on the current situation, Tulezi said though the situation has returned to pre-Covid levels, fertiliser is still a challenge to the farmers with the current stock set to last for three months, raising fears of a shortage in the coming weeks.
“The current crisis has been brought about by the war between Russia and Ukraine and we hope that the government can assist the farmers import cheaper materials to produce fertilizer,” he said. On production, he said that currently farmers were exporting 3,500 tonnes per week, adding that this was expected to rise in the coming week during International Mother’s Day. “We are projecting that production of flowers will rise to 4,500 tonnes per week from next week when demand will be high as the world marks Mother’s Day,” he said.
Tulezi at the same time said that they were keenly monitoring the political situation, warning that any signs of chaos could completely disrupt the industry.
He termed the sector as critical, noting that cases of violence in the past had paralysed the sector and sent home hundreds of workers.
“We are calling for peaceful elections and transition as any chaos would lead to workers fleeing and transport of flowers paralysed,” he said in an interview. He at the same time expressed the farmers’ concern over the rising cost of fuel, terming it as a major challenge to the farmers.