Tough times pushing out flower farmers from Kenya - official

Others have scaled down their operations

In Summary

• Kenya is among the top leading flower producers

• Demand in the EU which is the main market has dropped   

Jack Kneppers the MD Maridadi flower farm examines roses in the green houses in the Naivasha based firm. Flower farmers are crying foul over rising cost of production.
Flower production Jack Kneppers the MD Maridadi flower farm examines roses in the green houses in the Naivasha based firm. Flower farmers are crying foul over rising cost of production.
Image: George Murage

The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) says a difficult business environment in the country has forced some of its members to close shop.

According to the council, the tough operating times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic coupled by rising taxes and lack of support from the government has negatively affected the multi-billion sector.

Flower produces are currently taxed at the county and national levels a matter which the council feels is unfair as it amounts to double taxation.

The council said the economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic saw flower prices in the EU market fall and imports banned leading to major losses.

The council's chief executive  Clement Tulezi said that in the last one year, at least four flower farms have closed down while others have shifted their focus to other businesses.

He attributed this to rising taxes, high prices of farm inputs and unpredictable prices in the EU markets after the pandemic.

“The market is stabilising after one year of turbulence caused by the pandemic but we still have challenges that have seen some farms close shop,” he said.

Kenya's flower exports hit Sh108.7 billion shillings  in 2020 compared to Sh951 million in 2019. The country was able to ship approximately 142,000 tons of flowers despite the international travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The farms that have closed shop according to Tulezi include Magana (Kiambu) and Kericho based Finlay while Naivasha's Oserian farm has scale downed in flower business.

“For years we have called on support from the government but unfortunately this is not forth-coming leading to the current crisis,” he said.

Tulezi said the high fuel prices have also affected operations at a time when  farmers are yet to fully recover from the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses.

“This is a difficult moment for farmers as prices of farm chemicals, fertilisers, fuel and even electricity are on an upward trajectory,” he said.

The new concerns come a couple of weeks after the council warned that the planned move to increase water tariffs from 50 cents to Sh5 would lead to closure of some farms.

Tulezi said that the move to increase the tariffs would see the cost of production rise at a time when the prices of flowers globally had stagnated for months.

“We were not involved in this process of reviewing the water tariffs and our members are going through the proposals before we issue the way forward,” he said.

Earlier, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, who is also the Council of Governors' water, forestry, and natural resources management committee chairperson said they were in the dark about the changes.

“I wish to categorically state that the Council of Governors will not support these increments as doing so would be tantamount to denying the provision of accessible water and sanitation to Wanjiku,” he said.