- Naivasha has over 60 flower and vegetable farms
- Only cargo freights by some airways are operating
The ministry of labour has received notices from various firms seeking to send 300,000 workers on unpaid leave due to the impact of Covid-19 on businesses.
Speaking in Naivasha, Cabinet secretary Simon Chelugui said at the height of the pandemic the flower sector sent a large percentage of its 339,000 workers on forced leave.
He said it is encouraging that the floriculture sector is on a recovery path with exports rising to 80 percent from 30 percent.
“We are happy that many countries in Europe are easing their lockdown regulations and this has seen the export of flowers increase to 80 percent,” he said on Wednesday
The CS singled out Van-Den Berg as the only flower farm that had not sacked any of its employees despite the crisis.
“The government has introduced various stimulus packages and released VAT refunds to cushion flower farms affected by the pandemic,” he said.
Chelugui said the labour ministry is in talks with Kenya Airways on reducing the cost of cargo flights to boost the export of flowers and other fresh produce.
“This pandemic has affected many sectors and we have received notices from various institutions who want to put over 300,000 workers on unpaid leave or declare them redundant,” he said.
Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) chief executive officer Wesley Siele urged flower farmers not to uproot their crop saying there is hope for the sector.
He cited the VAT refunds and the stimulus packages as some of the measures the government has introduced to support flower farmers.
“We held a meeting with various stakeholders and the issue of redundancy has been suspended in the sector and now struggling farms can be able to pay salaries,” he said.
Van-Den Berg farm Human resources manager George Onyango said that despite the pandemic they did not sack any employee adding that exports have picked up and they are currently exporting 80 percent of their flowers.
“The only challenge that affected us was the flooding of our greenhouses due to a rise in water levels in Lake Naivasha and this might force us to send home some of our workers,” he said.
Nakuru Deputy Governor Dr Eric Korir called on the government to support flower farms whose structures had been submerged in water.
“The mainstay of Naivasha town is the flower farms which employs thousands of workers and thus the need to cushion the farmers,” he said.