SHRINKING MARKETS

Export of fresh produce down 46 percent

EU lockdown hurts Kenya's fresh produce exports

In Summary

•Kenya has seven confirmed cases of Coronavirus

•Government has banned flights from affected countries

•Many EU countries affected by the pandemic

•Naivasha has over 50 flower farms

The empty grading hall in Naivasha based Maridadi flower farm in Naivasha which has sent home 150 workers as it’s no longer exporting their roses to EU. The farm is dumping over 230,000 roses everyday due to the Corona crisis which has seen supermarkets in Europe close shop and the Dutch auction collapse.
Flower crisis The empty grading hall in Naivasha based Maridadi flower farm in Naivasha which has sent home 150 workers as it’s no longer exporting their roses to EU. The farm is dumping over 230,000 roses everyday due to the Corona crisis which has seen supermarkets in Europe close shop and the Dutch auction collapse.
Image: George Murage

Kenya's fresh produce exports to the European Union have dropped by 46 percent in the last two weeks following the global spread of the coronavirus.

This has led to complete or partial lockdowns forcing key markets to cancel or reduce orders though the impact is still average unlike that in the flower industry 

The Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) said the drop in the exports had been attributed to the limited movement of consumers in Europe.

 

According to the association chief executive officer Wesley Siele, the fresh produce sector was stable, unlike the floriculture one which was currently facing one of its darkest moments.

Siele said that supermarkets mainly in the UK, Sweden, and Russia were still ordering fresh produce from the country.

“People have to eat despite the pandemic and though the exports have dropped to 46 percent the fresh produce exporters are doing better unlike the flower farmers,” he said.

He said that the lockdown had seen consumer movement limited leading to the cancellation of fresh produce orders.

“We, however, expect the demand for the fresh produce like vegetables and fruits to stabilise in the coming days as the affected countries contain the pandemic,” he said.

On flowers, Siele termed the situation as bad following the total collapse of the Dutch auction which is the main market for the country’s flowers.

“The information we are getting is that only flowers meant for supermarkets are being shipped out while exports to Holland have been suspended,” he said.

 

In Naivasha anxiety gripped thousands of flower farm workers as more farmers continued to dispose of their daily harvests and send staff home.

Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union (KEFHAU) secretary-general David Omulama said a majority of the farms had sent a third of their workforce home.

He said that farmers involved in the production of fresh produce were still operational. 

Omulama warned that the numbers of those sent home could rise by next week if the situation mainly in Europe does not improve.

“The farmers have confirmed that they have salaries for this month but in case the crisis prolongs to next month they won’t have any cash to pay their workers,” he said.