RULES

Flower farmers concerned over new regulations by EU

It wants farmers to reduce on amount of fertilizer and pesticides used

In Summary
  • The floriculture sector is the second foreign earner after tea
  • Naivasha has over 60 flower farms
Jack Kneppers the MD Maridadi flower farm examines roses in the green houses in the Naivasha based firm.
Flower production Jack Kneppers the MD Maridadi flower farm examines roses in the green houses in the Naivasha based firm.
Image: George Murage

The European Union has introduced new stringent measures that require farmers to reduce the number of fertilizers, pesticides, and water used in their line of production.

The new regulations have been termed as a threat to production with stakeholders warning that this would have adverse effects on quality and quantity.

According to the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), the new regulations posed a major challenge in dealing with pests and addressing the issue of the quality of flowers originating from the continent.

The council CEO Clement Tulezi noted that soil fertility in the region had dropped sharply and thus the requirement for fertilizers whose prices had shot up by three times.

He noted that the region had a high number of pests that would only be addressed through chemicals, adding that the regulations posed a major challenge to the farmers.

Tulezi noted that implementing all those directives would lead to a drop in the quality of the flowers and see a rise in the number of pests affecting flowers.

“We are concerned by the new regulations from the EU which direct farmers to reduce the amount of water, fertilizer, and chemicals that they are using,” he said.

In an interview, Tulezi said that the sector had fully recovered from Covid-19 challenges which had brought flower farming to its knees.

“The pandemic is no longer a challenge and we are now able to navigate through various countries unlike in the past when the movement for cargo was a major challenge,” he said.

He at the same time put the treasury on the spot for failing to pay tax refunds noting that this was adversely affecting small-scale farmers.

“Since December last year the government has not paid the tax refunds and this has negatively impacted the sector at a time when the cost of production has tripled,” he said.

Tulezi added that they were keenly studying the Finance bill which proposed to increase tax on some of the farm inputs.

“The government does not offer support to the flower sector as it does to other sectors like tea and coffee and this is affecting production,” he said.

One of the leading farmers in Naivasha Jack Kneppers admitted that high fuel and electricity charges coupled with rising freight prices remained a major challenge.

Kneppers, who is the owner of the Maridadi flower farm, noted that prices in the EU market had stagnated for years despite the rising cost of production.

“Many of the farmers are yet to fully recover from the pandemic and the situation has been worsened by the rising prices of fertilizer and other farm inputs,” he said.