- There are over 100 flower farms in the country
- The sector directly employs over 200,000 workers
- Naivasha has the highest number of flower farms
The floriculture sector in Naivasha faces imminent closure due to the impact of the coronavirus on exports with thousands of workers staring at job losses.
A day after some farmers completely stopped shipping their production to various destinations in Europe, close to 1,000 workers were sent home.
This came amid fears that the numbers could rise in the coming weeks with seasonal workers being the most affected.
Currently, flights to some EU countries affected by the virus have been suspended while the Dutch auction which is the main market for the country’s flower exports has collapsed with exports dropping by 50 percent.
Some farmers had been dumping flowers ready for export in their compost yard in the last five days due to the cancellation of their orders.
Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) Naivasha branch secretary-general Ferdinand Juma said the situation is fluid.
He said so far, eight farms have been affected by the numbers set to rise in the coming days.
“Since Monday around 1,000 workers have been sent on paid leave while those on contract have been sent home for two weeks as their employers monitor the situation,” he said.
Juma admitted that the crisis had raised anxiety among thousands of workers in Naivasha as their jobs were in jeopardy.
“We have over 30,000 workers in various flower farms in Naivasha and currently the situation is worrying as very few flowers are been exported due to the Coronavirus crisis,” he said.
Kenya Flower Council chief executive officer Clement Tulezi, said currently only 50 percent of the country’s flower production is accessing the EU market.
“The exports are fluctuating from day to day but the average export is 50 percent with the Dutch auction yesterday operating at 35 percent,” he said.
He put the loss at Sh10m per day saying several farms had totally suspended the shipping of their flowers following the crisis caused by the coronavirus in several EU countries.
“Farmers have had their orders canceled and many have opted to reduce their shipping or totally cancel it due to the uncertainty in the market,”