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Flower farmers want extra cargo planes as production picks

Flower exports now stand at 80 percent - council

In Summary

•There are over 100 flower farms in the country

•The sector employs over 150,000 workers

Labour CS Simon Chelugui and CEO of AEA Wesley Siele tours Ol Njorowa flower farm in Naivasha
Flowers BUSINESS: Labour CS Simon Chelugui and CEO of AEA Wesley Siele tours Ol Njorowa flower farm in Naivasha
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

Flower production in the country is expected to hit 100 percent in the coming months following the reopening of the skies.

With exports currently at 80 percent from thirty percent, the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) has called for an increase in the number of cargo planes and reduction of freight charges.

The council's chief executive officer Clement Tulezi said freight charges is currently the major challenge facing the sector that employs over 150,000 people directly.

 

He said flower farmers are currently exporting more than 500 tonnes per day despite the high freight charges.

Tulezi said that farmers were paying $2.2 per kilo up from $1.5 before the pandemic hit the nation a hurdle that is posing a major challenge to farmers.

“Currently we are exporting up to 80 percent of our produce and we can increase this to near 100 percent if we get more cargo planes and lower freight charges,” he said on Wednesday.

The CEO said the sector had lost over Sh10 billion in the last four months following the collapse of the Dutch auction market and the strict lockdown regulations in the European Union.

“We were losing Sh30 million per day in the last three months but there is tremendous improvement in the sector with the majority of the workforce resuming duty,” he said.

On the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA), Tulezi admitted that it would be impossible to review the workers’ salaries this year.

He said that they were engaged in talks with the Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) on the need to postpone the salary negotiations to next year.

 

“Farmers have incurred major losses due to the pandemic and we are calling for an extension of one year before we embark on fresh negotiations,” he said.

Separately, the AEA chief executive Wesley Siele said that they were in negotiations with the state and the Central Organisation of  Trade Unions on the need to postpone the salary negotiations.

He said that some farms are currently struggling to pay their workers as the EU market started to reopen after the total collapse four months ago.

“At the moment the employers cannot afford to review workers salaries due to the current challenges and we are in talks with unions on how CBA negotiations can be postponed,” he said.