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Flower farms in Naivasha resume production

Cargo flights resume and Dutch Auction reopened

In Summary

-          There are over 100 flower farms in the country

-          The sector employs over 150,000 workers

-          Holland is the main market for flowers

-          Naivasha has the highest number of flower farms

A worker from Maridadi flower farm dumps mature roses which were ready for export in their compost yard due to lack of market. 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 A worker from Maridadi flower farm dumps mature roses which were ready for export in their compost yard due to lack of market. 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

Flower farms in Naivasha have resumed production after a month of losses and job losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This has been attributed to the increase in cargo flights and the partial reopening of supermarkets in some European countries and the Dutch auction.

With an increase in production, some of the workers who had been sent on unpaid leave have been recalled with hopes that demand for the exports will increase in the coming weeks.

 

With production on the rise, the farmers have however been forced to introduce stringent measures including screening of temperatures and provision of masks for their workers.

According to Jack Kneppers the owner of the Maridadi flower farm, they were shipping out flower four times a week unlike in the past daily production went to waste.

He attributed this to the reopening of the Dutch auction and some supermarkets in Europe where they shipped majority of their flowers.

“At the moment we are shipping out over 50 percent to the European market and disposing around 20 percent on the days that demand is low,” he said.

Speaking on his farm, the seasoned farmer said that they had been forced to uproot 15 percent of their crop due to the crisis caused by the pandemic.

“The situation is improving by the day and we are still waiting for the VAT refunds as promised by the government,” he said.

On safety measures, Kneppers said that workers had been provided with face masks and were observing social distancing as per the government directives.

 

“We are making sure that every morning and afternoon the workers' temperatures are recorded and they wash their hands every now and then,” he said.

The supervisor in charge of grading Ruth Oyack said that the company had retained all its workers despite the current crisis.

“Since Kenya Airways reintroduced cargo flights we are shipping out flowers four times in a week based on demand from our clients,” she said.

She added that they were keenly following up on the laid out regulations by providing their workers with masks and sanitizers.

This was echoed by the workers' welfare officer Joseph Wanyonyi who noted that the pandemic had affected many in the sector.

“We were worried about our fate but we are glad that production has resumed though low and we are observing safety rules like hand washing and the wearing of masks,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the CEO Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) Wesley Siele noted that the drop in the exports had contributed to the limited movement of consumers in Europe.

Siele said that supermarkets mainly in the UK, Sweden and Russia were still ordering the fresh produce from the country although high flight charge was the main challenge.